Training your voice is like going to the gym for your weekly workout. If you want to strengthen your voice, increase range and have flexibility dedicating time to focus on vocal exercises is essential . We asked our vocal teachers what their favourite vocal warm up is and why they do it.
Here are two vocal warm ups that keep your voice strong and fit. First, is humming which is when your voice is resonating through gently closed lips. This technique helps you realize your facial muscles, stretch your vocal cords and improves your breathing. It also does not put any strain on your vocal cords. Humming is a great “feeling” exercise because you feel the vibration sensations on your face, whether it is on your cheek or nose. If you feel those sensations while doing the exercises you are doing it correctly. You can hum triads going up and down, going one note higher each time.
Another great vocal warm up is lip trills, which is a vibration technique. It develops consistent breath control so no air can escapes and it can increase your breath support. An example of a simple lip trill exercises is making siren noises going up and down each time, which helps make a smooth legato line and promotes resistance and stretching of your vocal folds.
As a singer , it is important not to forget to warm up with some neck rolls and shoulder shrugs in order to release tension in the vocal area. Follow that up with sirens/slides from your lowest register to your highest: from bottom to top. then top back down to bottom. Think of it s “ironing out the wrinkles” in your voice before you start with your scale work. Including exercises that work basic intervals ( 3rds. 5ths and 8ves) gives you a good warm up before starting work on your pieces.
I like students to challenge themselves in their warm ups. Adding some scat work is great for that. A “Scat” is a vocal improvisation with wordless , vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. It is turning your voice into an instrument like a sax or trumpet. I like to start with a 12 Bar Blues Scale. Begin with a slow tempo and use syllables like a “bob” , “Beep” or “Do” and keep repeating the scale. You then can add different notes in and play around. As you practice these it will develop your rhythm, ear and improvisation skills. Also it is just “Fun” . Sometimes my students just start laughing!! Add them to your daily warm ups and yes…it will take you out of your comfort zone:)
I like to use the following exercise to develop an awareness of the lower movement of the breath. Start by bringing your attention to your breath and follow it as it moves in and out. Scan your body and notice any places of tension or holding as you breathe. Next, place your hands on your stomach below the belly button. Take a relaxed inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth. Keep exhaling until you feel you are at the end of the breath and then breathe out a little more. When you feel you have exhaled all your breath, release your belly and let the air drop in. With each repetition of this exercise , you will feel your breath deepen a little more.
Naomi Oommen, Juliet Martin, Angie Money and Jennifer O’Donnell : Edmonton Academy’s Vocal Coach Team