Unlike other musicians, a singer can not quickly fix or mend their instrument if broken…because their instrument is their voice! That’s why it’s extremely important for singers to take good care of their voices in order to prevent injury. After all, we’re only born with one set of vocal cords and they’re irreplaceable!
Luckily, there are many things vocalists can do to help keep their voices in the best shape possible. One of the simplest and easiest ways singers can protect their voices is by performing vocal exercises before a concert or show. Vocal warm ups before a performance help to ensure the voice is primed and ready to function at its very best. Unfortunately, our vocal cords are easily susceptible to cracking, raspiness, and strain, especially if used often like singers do. Vocal warm ups are the key to preventing all that. As an added bonus, warming up your voice before a show will also improve the quality of your singing and ready your voice for intense use, ensuring that it’s at its peak from the very start.
New to vocal warm ups? Here are some vocal exercises that the team here at Scottsdale Music Academy uses before any performances or intense vocal use, including voice lessons.
- Lip Trills
One of the most basic vocal warm ups you can do is something called a lip trill. The purpose of a lip trill is to reduce vocal tension so that your vocal folds can expand more freely when singing. To perform a lip trill, simply place your lips loosely together, making sure your jaw, tongue, and lips are relaxed. Next, release a controlled, but steady stream of air. This will cause your lips to vibrate slightly. It’s important that you release your breath of air gently and not with too much force. Your lips will vibrate naturally if your mouth and lips are relaxed enough.
If you’re having difficulty with the warm up, it’s good to relax the muscles in your face by first rubbing your cheeks and jaw with your fingertips to loosen them up. Once you get the technique down, you can begin to practice this exercise with a variety of notes and pitches. This vocal warm up is good for loosening the lips to ensure good diction, reducing pressure on the vocal cords, and opening up the diaphragm.
- Octave Jumps
Don’t worry, this singing exercise doesn’t involve any physical jumping, only the musical kind. Although you won’t work up a sweat performing octave jumps, they are definitely a workout for your voice. Octave jumps involve singing short and quick notes (a style of singing known as staccato) starting from the lowest note in your vocal range then jumping to the same note three octaves above that one. Do this with different notes, moving up on the scale from one note to the next. This exercise helps you to be more attune to your pitch and is a great way to practice controlling your accuracy.
You might be thinking we’re trying to prank you right now, but humming is actually a very effective vocal warm up! Believe it or not, but humming allows the vocal cords to resonante freely, enabling them to stretch naturally without risk of injury. Like the name suggests, a humming warm up revolves around making a “hmmm” sound with your voice while keeping your mouth closed. This “hmm” sound will create a buzzing effect and the ease (or difficulty) of producing this sound is one of the best indicators of how the voice is functioning. As with the other vocal warm ups mentioned, this exercise is a great way to relax tight facial muscles and loosen stiff vocal cords.
To summarize, vocal warm ups are necessary to keep your voice healthy and in singing shape. Serious singers should make vocal warm ups a part of their singing routine, incorporating them into their pre-performance checklist and even their vocal lessons. For more vocal exercises and tips on all things singing related, be sure to contact us at Scottsdale Music Academy!