14 Oct How to Sing Better: 9 Tips to Get You Warmed Up
So, you want to improve your singing ability but don’t know where to start, right? The first place to start—other than having good posture—is going to be a well-planned warm-up routine which comes down to vocal technique and exercise.
Whether a seasoned professional or brand-new to the scene, voice exercises, and warm-ups are an integral part of the singer’s lifestyle. Warming up needs to take place in order to keep the throat muscles, lungs, and mind from straining to hit those tough notes. These same notes with a properly conditioned body, require considerably less effort, yet you’ll find you will still achieve the same results or most likely even much better.
Ideally, you should shoot for a 15-minute warm-up (including breathing exercises) before you start doing any real singing, but this is real life and, let’s face it, we may not all have the spare time. Over time, you will begin to determine which activities work best for you as it will, of course, vary from person to person. Whether you do it a little or a lot, running through some or all of these exercises prior to kicking off showtime will benefit you greatly.
Have a Daily Routine
A daily routine is extremely important for anyone considering a serious singing career. By maintaining a steady schedule with dedicated vocal workouts and exercises, you will always be moving forward and in constant “ready-mode.”
As with any fine-tuned machine, the less you use it the less valuable it will become and you will have to start again all the way from the beginning—so don’t let those seemingly never-ending practices go to waste.
Body warm-ups and practicing your breathing on a regular basis are just as important a part of any vocalist’s routine as the voice itself. While it may seem odd to do these types of undertakings at first, considering your vocal cords are so small and located in the throat, it is incredibly important to get the rest of the body ready and to relieve all of that stress that you have built up inside those muscles. If you like to sing songs, a good thing to do is to try recording your voice to hear how much you improve.
The benefits of a body routine added to a meticulous voice regimen include less vocal fatigue, reduces strain while hitting tougher notes, and also promotes strength throughout your upper vocal register.
Yes, yawn. Of course, a good yawn can either wake us up or make us feel sleepier. However, yawning allows your entire airway to open up, and slightly relaxes the diaphragm. What you are attempting to do is not stretch the airway, but just to engage the nerves “waking” up your pipes a bit.
Focus on allowing all of the muscles in your throat, neck, and under your jaw to completely relax, and let the tension melt away like hot butter.
Allow your shoulders to drop just slightly, letting the stress disappear.
2) Light, Puffy, Coughing
Lightly cough. You should have felt the diaphragm in your chest flex. If you didn’t, try coughing a little harder this time. A quiet, sort of “puff, puff” cough should be enough to get your diaphragm moving enough for you to notice.
When singing, this is the area you want to have to handle the heavy work—all the while, maintaining relaxation in your jaw, throat, and neck.
Similar in a way to yawning, what you are doing is sending signals to your diaphragm that it’s almost time for the show. Preliminary signals sent to nerves will activate them, making them more responsive when you need them.
3) Shake It Out
Moving the body around helps to remove any built-up tension being stored within the body.
Whenever you feel the tension building in your neck or jaw while warming up, simply shrug your shoulders up really tight, and then let them drop down suddenly. This will help to alleviate some of that stress and you can start over from a more relaxed demeanor.
4) Get Lazy (Sort Of)
The jaw, in any given person, is quite prone to storing lots of tension. By massaging your face and jaw with your fingertips, you can help to relieve some of the tension, which will allow you to better focus on other areas of your singing.
Also, simply saying “blah-blah-blah” a few times over will slacken the tongue, which has similar benefits.
Just as you have body warm-ups, you obviously have your vocal tasks as well. Vocal warm-ups help relieve stress, but this time the stress is being removed from the sound of your voice, rather than the mass of your body.
The lip roll, or “lip bubbling” as some people call it, is basically humming through pursed lips, allowing them to babble a bit like a blowing a raspberry.
While doing this, in three steps go from a low range to mid-range, to high. With the humming and babbling, run up and down a scale in each of the three ranges, and then back again. Do this a few times, then repeat—only this time, do the entire range rather than three separate ones.
This increases the flexibility in your mouth and jaw and prepares it for more taxing endeavors to come.
6) Vocal Slides
Vocal slides are a great way to wake up your vocal range. Start by going down a scale from up in your head voice, down into your chest voice. Then, go back up the scale. You can add a lip roll to this if you wish, and you can also shake it out simultaneously. Repeat as many times as you feel necessary.
The purpose of vocal slides is basically to “clean” your sound and get rid of any catches, crackles, or weaknesses in your voice prior to your big appearance, almost like clearing your throat before a big speech.
Make sure when running up and down the register to only go up so high. Don’t overshoot your range during warm-ups because you could cause a vocal injury and be out for the evening before you even got started.
7) Make Weird Noises
This part of the routine helps to encourage fullness in your tone and allows your high notes to ring out more clearly.
With your tongue sticking all the way out of your mouth, go up and down scales sort of like this:“ya-ya-ya.”Make sure you control this sound with the very back of your tongue.
This helps your palate and rear of your tongue engage, which allows you to close notes more effectively. The base of the tongue can actually tend to push downward into the throat if the muscles aren’t properly trained causing undue stress throughout the singing process—so making sure it is well trained to stay forward is key.
In kind of the same way, relax the jaw and create an “uh” noise—again, a bit like a cough but even lighter than previously mentioned—and run your scale again. You should do this in a staccato style, just barely touching on each note.
Don’t increase volume and don’t let the notes run together.This is an exercise further engaging the diaphragm; however, rather than using it powerfully, you are actually getting your body used to the thought that it only takes a tiny bit of effort to produce a great voice, and you won’t be overly taxing your vocals.
Being able to do these warm-ups efficiently separates sounds clearly and prevents a running, indistinct, series of notes.
8) Vocal Fry
Vocal fry is a guttural sounding noise which comes from the back of the throat, almost like how someone would sound if they had a bad chest cold and sounded “froggy.”
Rather than attempting to produce this noise with pressure, you are actually really relaxing the throat to produce and easy, crackling sound.
Example of Vocal Fry
The use of the vocal fry method helps to boost strength throughout the entire singing range, as well as increasing over ease of singing and clarity.
9) Stay Lubricated
It may sound like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised how many would-be singers have poor hydration habits or, even worse, are smokers.
How much sense does it to avoid drinking liquids all day and then expect to have a nice, lubricated passageway for your beautiful voice to come sliding out of like the finest silk? About none.
Singers must make an effort to drink plenty of water and fluids on a consistent basis or else risk a dried-out throat and mouth and a very scratchy listening experience.
A healthy balanced diet is just as important. What you are trying to do, in essence, by training yourself to be an incredible singer is to turn your body into a highly skilled and finely-honed piece of equipment.
Just like you wouldn’t expect a stock car to be taking the flag at Daytona unless it had an amazing pit crew and all the best fluids and maintenance, you shouldn’t expect your singing career to hit the heavens unless you take care of its home.
We hope our list has opened up a look at some of the most popular voice warm-ups for you and also helped to explain the purpose behind all of them.
By learning how to relax certain muscles where and when, and how to utilize the muscles you need to produce power with minimum effort, you will be at the top of your class quicker than you ever thought you could be.
By trying out all of these different professional voice warm-ups methods, you are sure to find a few that you really enjoy and make the most noticeable difference for you.
As we mentioned earlier, it may not be that every single exercise listed is going to feel like a big winner for everyone, but these are a great baseline to start with and as you work through the routine and start to learn your body better, you will be able to add or remove from your repertoire—you will most likely even invent some new ones on your own!