How to Warm Up your Voice: Simple and Essential Tips
Warming up the voice is critical to the health and longevity of a singer's voice. Discover some simple and essential techniques for keeping your voice strong and healthy, and take it to the next level!
Singing is an art that so many of us indulge in on a day-to-day basis, despite if you have the voice of an angel or can’t hit a note to save your life, singing can connect people of all ages, cultures, and languages.
Whether you are a professional or amateur singer, you must recognize that your entire body is your instrument, and understanding how it operates can affect your performance. Because of this, we will explore how to warm up your voice, and why it is so important.
What is a Vocal Warm Up Exercise?
A vocal warm up is defined as “a series of exercises meant to prepare the voice for singing, acting, or other use”.
“What do you do to build any muscle? You do exercises! Vocal warm ups are great and I want to push doing warm-ups and scales because that is very important for your voice. It’s stretching your voice higher and lower than you normally would. Your voice requires exercise.” - Stevie Mackey (vocal coach to singers such as Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and more.)
Most times it is usually a few systematic vocal warm up exercises that get your physical voice, mind, and ear all on the same page. Ideally, it will help you get comfortable with your full range before performing so that you are able to hit the extreme notes in your piece.
What is the Importance of Vocal Warm Ups?
You may be asking yourself why vocal warm ups are necessary to begin with. It’s quite simple really, the same way you wouldn’t expect a marathon runner to go straight into a marathon, a dancer to go straight into their performance, or a professional athlete to go straight into a game after they all just rolled out of bed, so too should a singer not go straight into singing without the proper steps.
Your vocal cords are made up of muscles, and just like an athlete you need to prepare your muscles for the workout and strain they will receive during a practice, event, or gig. Warming up allows the muscles to loosen up and relax, and they can actually train you to become a better singer. The more you practice your warm up techniques, the better you will become.
Not only that, but it can help prolong the time you will spend singing by decreasing the chance that you strain your vocal cords. If you don’t warm your voice before singing, chances are you have more trouble pushing for the high or low notes, or tire out your vocal cords prematurely.
By preparing your voice, you’re also better prepared to sing in different styles or registers.
How to Warm up your Voice
Now you understand why, let’s talk about how to warm up your voice! There are many techniques that several professionals recommend, a few of the most common and best vocal warm-ups are things like vowel shapes, humming, lip trills, vocal sirens, or slides.
Many focus on vowel shapes, learning to sing each vowel clearly at different pitches to improve their resonance. Techniques like this are great for enabling you to easily sing in higher or lower pitches than you might normally be comfortable doing.
Humming is one of the best vocal warm-ups because it doesn't put a lot of strain on your vocal cords. Place the tip of your tongue behind your bottom front teeth and hum up and down the major scale while keeping your mouth closed.
Very simply, make a motorboat sound by making your lips vibrate as you blow air through your nose and mouth.
The vocal siren technique makes an ‘ooo’ sound while sliding from the lowest note in your range to the highest and back down again. This is very similar to the vocal slide, only in a vocal slide you aim to only sing the low and high note in the register, not every note in between.
Here is an example of a vocal slide:
There are a few other helpful things to note when it comes to taking care of your voice. If you have a gig, event, or show coming up, try some of these tips to optimize your voice and get the best result possible.
Lay off dairy! Dairy causes phlegm and inflammation in the body and interferes with singing.
Skip the caffeine! Any kind of caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, soda) is dehydrating, and you want your vocal cords to be as hydrated as possible.
Avoid alcohol, foods that are spicy, or cause acid reflux! Anything that can irritate your throat, you definitely want to leave at the door a few days before your performance.
If you are a singer, you know that the best way to improve your ability is through daily practice, and one of the easiest ways to do that is using the Moises app (available on the App Store and Play Store).
It has an amazing feature for vocalists - Track Separation - where you can effortlessly isolate the vocals of any song you upload, and Pitch Shifter, a sound technique that is used to raise or lower the pitch of the selected song.
Singing in the right key is vital for any singer. Practicing or performing in the wrong key not only sounds displeasing, but it can also lead to permanent damage.
“Those who chronically overuse or misuse their voices run the risk of doing permanent damage” says voice care specialist Claudio Milstein, PhD.
That is why the Pitch Shifter is so useful, once you determine a comfortable key to sing in, you can use this feature to easily shift the key to the one you have chosen. If you would like more tips on how to find the right key for you, check out this article!
Moises makes it incredibly simple to individualize vocal tracks so you can practice the key, pitch, runs, or any other vocal technique within the song you might want.
Hopefully, after today, you will see the crucial role that a warmup can play for your vocals. Not only for the best result during your potential upcoming performance but also for the health and longevity of your voice! With the use of these tips and exercises, you will be well on your way to preserving and enhancing the beauty that is your unique sound.