If you enjoy singing you have experienced times that your voice just quit working. Or at least it did not perform the way it should. If you were not ill or just fatigued, it was probably that you overextended the ability of your voice. With a little patience and the right direction, you can strengthen your singing voice. With a stronger and more controlled voice, you can sing longer and better.
If you plan to be singing for more than just a few minutes you should do some vocal warm up exercises. Warm up exercises for singing can vary from simple to medium. Good warm up exercises will help strengthen your singing voice.
To begin any vocal warm up you need to establish a good breathing technique. You can start by working up a good “yawn”. Do several good “yawns” and feel what your abdomen feels like.
Here are a few more “yawns” to help you get it going.
This will show you how your abdomen should feel like as you inhale in preparation to sing. It will also give you some idea of the openness that your throat should feel when singing correctly. Once you have established the feeling of breathing deeply and having an open throat you can move on to phonation, making a sound.
A simple “hmm”(that stands for humming) would be a good beginning to wake the singing instrument. After taking a good “yawning” breath, bring your lips together but keep your teeth apart. The tongue should lie relaxed on the floor of the mouth the tip touching the back of the bottom teeth.
Now, “hmm” on any pitch. Hold the pitch for three or four counts. Relax, and do the exercise to or three more times. Then extend the amount of time that you hold the pitch. You may also wish to move the pitch up an interval or two as you continue.
If you are humming correctly you will feel a little tingle around the lips and nose. If you do not, concentrate on relaxing the facial muscles as you hum.
Add flexibility exercises
After performing the initial exercise for two or three minutes, you can move on to some flexibility exercises.
The first of these exercises is a diatonic exercise which moves stepwise. Depending on your vocal ability it can be done as eighth note rhythms or sixteenth note rhythms. See the example below. You can click on the player and use the embedded recording as your accompaniment.
The exercise will move up by half-steps for four exercises and then back down. You may choose the eighth-note version or the sixteenth note version. Begin with the eighth note version and the advance to the sixteenth as you are able.(thirds)
As we continue to warm up our voice we shall extend our range slightly. This is not to add range to the voice but to wake up the range we have.
This next exercise can be done as eighth notes or sixteenth notes as the previous. It is a diatonic stepwise moving up four steps and then back down and repeat. You can choose whichever is best for your warm up ability. You may wish to do both. The exercise will then move up in pitch by five half steps and then back down.(fifths)
The first leaping warm up exercise is the arpeggio. In this exercise, we trace a major chord. Beginning with “tonic” to “third” to “fifth” back to “third” and then repeat the exercise three more times. Once again you may use the eighth note version or the sixteenth note version. Each is embedded below.
We will move up by half steps five times and then back down to the original. Each section should be done with one breath.
The exercises that we have been doing to warm up our singing voice is also strengthening our voice. Flexibility exercises help by programming our vocal muscles to react more quickly. This exercises the full range of the muscle in a way that normal speaking or singing does not. What we desire is a muscle that performs in any situation or range.
As we continue to use these warm up exercises and add to them, we shall hear the voice blossom. Flexibility exercises build strength without the pressure or damages that come with pushing for range. These exercises build durability and control without bringing fatigue to the vocal mechanism.
Flexibility exercises do not need to be practiced to the point of tiredness. But they should be practiced regularly. Strength and control will come in due time. We shall continue to add exercises as we develop this program.
Our next flexibility warm up exercise is a leap/step configuration. Beginning with the tonic we leap a third up and then a step down. This is repeated three times. Then it reverses and does a third down then a step up four times. See the notated version below. You can modulate the exercise up four half steps and then back down to the original. You can play the embedded mp3 to accompany your practice.
To conclude your warm up just do some sighing. By sighing, I mean to lightly “sigh” an “ooh” as high as you can. Then let your pitch slide to the lowest pitch you can. Hear the demonstration embedded here.
After “sighing” several times just relax. Breathe comfortably but seek to keep good posture.
If you do these simple exercises each time you practice you will begin to see improvement in your singing voice. The voice is a result of many muscles working together. Just like any muscle, the muscles of the voice must be worked to build strength.
I am of the persuasion that a flexible muscle is a strong muscle. So, if we strengthen our singing voice by exercising flexibility we will produce beautiful singing also. It will take time. But anything of beauty is worth any amount of time that is invested in it. With patience and perseverance, you can develop a strong and beautiful singing voice.
We shall be here to help you along your journey. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God bless you.
To learn more about finding a good vocal teacher go to the NATS website to find a teacher in your area.