I want to say a few things about these warm up exercises: they’re not super special.
There is nothing to this one in particular that is better than any other vocal warm-up. If you have another favorite one on YouTube – go ahead and work with that one. As long as it meets the principles below!
The three principles of a good vocal warm-up
Exercises of a good warm-up obey these principles:
- There is a bit of bodywork/breathing exercises to start with.
- The warm-up is gradual. So it will start with a hum, a trill or a vocal consonant and go slowly to more open vowels and a larger range.
- The exercises are easy to follow.
The order of my vocal warm-up
With these exercises, it’s best to stand. but if you must sit, have both feet on the floor and sit up straight. Make sure you’re not tense. If you sit, the torso should be straight but relaxed.
- Hold elbows with opposite hands, bring arms above head, arms aligned with torso, the ears between the arms.
- Move head and neck around freely, relax the neck. This exercise is to relax that area
- Relax arms back down, roll shoulders, either together or one after the other.
- Arms back up. Inhale, then exhale as you stretch to the side. Stay for a moment, feeling the stretch, and inhale. Then straighten up while exhaling. Repeat this, but tipping your upper body to the right. Finally, when straight again, do one more inhale, then on exhale, relax arms, roll shoulders sideways, then to the front and back, again either together or singly.
- Breathe in. Let shoulders and chest come up. Hold breath, then relax shoulders and chest muscles back down. Then exhale. Then repeat, but this time let the jaw relax with the shoulders at the same time. Finally exhale. The idea is to get used to having shoulders, neck and jaw relaxed while you have plenty of air in the lungs.
- Inhale, then again release jaw and shoulders while holding breath, then exhale on a “sss”. Hiss for as long as you can. This builds stamina and support.
Humming / singing exercises
For all sung exercises, ladies start on middle C (C4), gentlemen, one octave lower. These notes are referred to as simply “C” below.
- Lip trills (or rolled “r”, or plosive consonant like a “v”). Three times on same note with short silence in between each. Expand ribs on each trill. Repeat, going down by semitone, continuing for as long as comfortable. Then do the same (starting on C) but going up for as long as comfortable. Pay attention to keeping ribs expanding to the sides throughout. Use hand movements if it helps.
- Next, sing “ng” as in ‘tongue’. Pattern: 1-2-3-2-1 (where 1 is the lower note, 3 the higher). Put hand on chest. As you sing, feel like you are sighing. Same sequences as before (going down, then up, starting on C). Pay attention to relaxing jaw, neck and shoulders throughout.
- Now “woo” sound. Relax jaw with each and every “woo”. Pattern: 5-3-1. Go down from C.
- Same, but “woe” (as in “woe is me!”), and going up from C.
- Next: “see”. Say it first, in a lilting way: see-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee. Pattern 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1. Go down from C, then up from C.
- This one is good for high notes. “nyah”, a nasal sound. Pattern 1-3-5-3-1. Down from C, for as long as comfortable, then up for as long as comfortable.
- Same exercise (with “nyah”), but with pattern 1-3-5-8-5-3-1. This time, go up first.
If you don’t have a lot of time to practice…
If you have little time, my advice is to do the warm-up instead of the song! That’s how important a warm-up is.