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How To Warm Up Your Singing Voice

In the previous blog we learned the importance of good posture for singing.  Now we are going to get down to the root of singing and that is the voice. The typical popular singer has a little idea of how to warm up for singing, but it is usually not that good.  So, let’s look at how to warm up your singing voice correctly.

 

Should I warm up before singing?

That seems like a silly question, but it is an important question.  The simple answer is “Yes”. Another question comes to mind, “why should I warm up before singing?”  Let us do a little comparison to what a person who engages in running a track event.

Does the mile runner go out to the starting line just before they line up to run?  Of course not! The runner will be up and stretching and doing calisthenics and working from jogging to a full run.  He or she will be warming up his muscles for up to an hour before he or she actually runs the race.

So, it is with the singer.  We must warm up our muscle, in this case our voice muscle.  For runners to come out and run the race without warming up properly, might cause damage to their body.  For the singer it might cause damage to the voice, depending on the song that is sung.

What are some good warm up exercises before singing?

To begin your warm up you should refresh your body’s memory of what good posture is.  You can do your lying down exercise or standing against a wall. Just take a few minutes to alert your body that you are getting ready to sing.

Go ahead and do a couple of breathing exercises.  You can “yawn” to get the feeling of expanse in the rib cage.  Do this several times until you can keep the feeling of that openness at will.  To help get control of the exhaling phase do the exhale through the “sssss”. Do that until you can exhale to a count of 10.   

Relax a few minutes and then begin some phonation exercises.

Important Note

I am of the persuasion that the tension that we seek to avoid in our singing is not caused by the throat.  Rather, I believe that the tension in the throat, and other muscles, is because the voice is not strong. Some like to emphasize little tricks like lip trills and other similar applications to displace tension.  These may work to some degree, but they do not address the root of the problem.

I believe that a strong voice is a free voice.  To build a strong voice takes time. Just as it takes a baby about 20 years to achieve adulthood, so is singing.  It is not that it will take you 20 years to begin to sing beautifully or artistically. But just as you learn to walk by the age of three you can walk even better at twenty.  You can speak quite well at age five but you are much more fluent and articulate at twenty.

If you learn singing correctly, you will sing for your whole life.  I want you to enjoy singing your whole life long.

Back to warm up your singing voice

My recommendation for a beginning warm up is a simple “Humm”.  Begin by inhaling through a “yawn”. Then, leaving the teeth one or two fingers apart, bring your lips together.  You can begin the “Humm” and hold it for four or five seconds. After several of these “Humms” we shall add a little movement.

For the next part we shall do the exercise that you see printed below, still “Humming” to the notes and rhythm.

How to warm up your singing voice

Initial Warmup

You will do the vocalese up for five half-steps and then back down to the beginning pitch.  The whole exercise should be “hummed” lightly with the feeling of a yawn. You should be able to do each step on one breath.  The tempo is 80 bpm. You should do the whole exercise at least three times. Take a few minutes to relax when you finish.

We are learning how to warm up your singing voice

For the next step in our warm up we shall use the “Ah” vowel.  The reason we use this vowel is because of its openness. Some people like to turn the sound toward the “Awe”.  That does produce a little more openness in some voices but not in all. What we are looking for is a consistency in vocal production.

To get the rich and ringing sound we desire in a good solo voice we need consistent full sound.  This is where the “yawn” comes into play. We have already warmed up with a “yawn” so let’s incorporate it now in our phonation.  If you recall the feeling we get with a “yawn”, it gives the feeling of openness from belly to nose. As we shall learn as we continue, this is what gives a voice its richness.

We shall use the same exercise as above.  You should have the feeling of “yawning” your way through the exercise.  Do the exercise twice. The idea is still not to be loud but light. You should not “feel” and weight in the voice.  For men you should feel as if you are singing “falsetto”. This is, after all, a warm up.

Continue to warm up your singing voice

So far, we have come about fifteen minutes into our preparation for singing.  We still have about twenty to thirty minutes more before we shall be ready to perform.

Vaccai

The next phase of our warm up routine is taken from a book entitled “Practical Method of Italian Singing”.  It is a compilation of vocalese songs composed by the early 19th century composer Nicola Vaccai.  He was a successful Italian composer as well as teacher of voice.  He had many students who did not desire to be professional performers but desired to sing well.  Rather than composing monotonous exercises addressing areas of the vocal training, he composed songs addressing certain vocal techniques.

This approach proved so successful that they are common in many vocal training schools.  Though there are several other vocalese compilations that work very well in developing specific areas, these are fine for foundations.

La Scala

Vaccai partitions his vocalese by beginning with intervals.  The simplest interval being the second. So, our first singing warm up vocalese will be his “La Scala” which emphasizes the second.

These are the words:

Manca solecita

Più dell usato

Ancorche s’agiti

Conlieve fiato

Face che palpita Presso al morir

Face che palpita Presso al morir

How to warm up your singing voice

La Scala

This particular recording is done in the key of B flat instead of C that is printed.

Sing through this exercise at least twice.  Emphasize good breaths through a “yawn”. Then maintain a good feeling of “yawn” as you sing a legato line.  Sing each phrase on one breath. The higher you go in pitch, seek to maintain the “yawn”.

For now, we are emphasizing the “yawn” as we warm up.  When we get to singing the song, we shall let it be a secondary motivation.  As we advance, we shall focus on it again from time to time.

Salti di Terza

Our next warm up exercise is the Salti di Terza, an exercise in thirds.

The words are:

Semplicetta tortorella

Che nonvede il suo periglio

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Strive to make the vowels pure as you practice this warm up.  Go through the exercise twice. Take a short break and take in some fluid.  Then move on to the next exercise.

Singing warm up

La Terza

Salti di Quarta

As we continue we exercise the interval of the fourth in Salti di Quarta.

The words are as follows:

Lascia il lido, E il mare infido

A solcar torna il nochiero

E pur sa che mensognero

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Sing through this exercise a couple of times and take a short break.

warm up your singing voice

Quarta

Salta di Quinta

Our next warm up exercise is the interval of the fifth, Salta di Quinta.

The words are:

Avvezzo a vivere

Senza con forto

Ancor nel porto

Paventi il mar

Avvezzo a vivere

Senza con forto

Ancor nel porto

Paventi il mar

Sing this exercise a couple of times and move on to the next.

How to warm up for singing

Quinta

Salti di Sesta

Our next warm up exercise is the interval of the sixth.

The words are:

Bella prova s’alma forte

L’esser placida e serena

Nel soffrir l’ingiusta pena

D’una colpa che non ha

Bella prova s’alma forte

L’esser placida e serena

Nel soffrir l’ingiusta pena

D’una colpa che non ha

warm up for singing

Sesta

 

Salti di Settima

As we move on, we warm up with the interval of the seventh.

These are the words:

Fra lombre un lampo solo

Basta al nochier sagace

Che gia ritrova il polo

Gia riconosce il mar

How to warm up your singing voice

Settima

We are almost through with our warm up.  Move on to the last exercise.

 

 

Salti di Ottava

Our final warm up is the interval of an octave.  By the time we finish this exercise we shall have sufficiently warmed up our vocal mechanism to sing.

The words are:

Quell’ onda che ruina

Balza si frange e mormora

Ma limpida si fa

Balza, balza, balza balza,

Ma limpi da si fa.

Sing through this exercise a couple of times and then relax.

How to warm up your singing voice

Ottavo

 

Conclusion

By the end of this exercise you should be well warmed up to sing. Depending on how advanced you are and the songs you are singing you may need to do additional warm up.  But, for normal singing and practice you should be ready to go.

This should be a typical warm up session for every time you will be singing or practicing. You should warm up your voice for singing every time you sing.

You should be able to use this post to warm up if you have a smartphone and can access this site.  I shall include a couple of ranges for each exercise as possible. The mid-range exercise will be used if only one is included.  More shall be added as we continue to develop the site.

You should warm up your voice for singing even on days you do not plan to officially sing.

Contact us at tom@tomharveybaritone.com

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