Your voice is a flexible system that is capable of extraordinary things. Although you use your voice every day you can still benefit from these vocal warm ups. Warming up the voice helps you improve muscle control, stamina and helps you target specific areas of your technique in isolation to combat negative vocal habits. Think of practicing like a dancer doing gentle stretches at the bar to loosen up muscles and ligaments before a full routine.
Here are 3 of my go to exercises for warming up the voice safely. It’s worth learning to do them whilst keeping a lengthened posture of the body and neck.
1.) Finding your body/voice connection -
breathing out on strong consonants:
Stand tall and think of sending your head away from your feet. Put one hand over your abdomen to monitor movement there. Now breath out using a strong “SS”. Send the “SS” across the room and keep it strong until the end. Keep lengthening between your head and feet throughout. Keep the abdominal wall free and allow it to move in; you may notice the lower abdominal muscles engage strongly which can be felt below the belly button.
Once you comfortably reach the end of the outbreath allow the breath to drop back in and notice your hand gently move outwards again as the ribs spring back open. Repeat 3 times as a sequence. The deep muscles around the abdomen that engage are the muscles that power the voice when singing. Remember to always keep the tummy wall free as this needs to move in and out as you breath.
2.) Opening your larynx:
Throat clearing and vocal fatigue are often signs of constriction in the larynx. In order to achieve a rich and more open sound we need to create an open larynx which is free from obstruction. We have two sets of folds in the larynx; the true vocal folds which vibrate when we speak and sing and the false vocal folds which help with swallowing and act as a secondary cover to protect our airway. The latter can become more engaged when we are stressed in situations such as performances or auditions. This exercise will help you disengage your false vocal folds.
Sigh out on a whispered “ah” sound.
Tighten that sound in your throat to make it more constricted. This is your false folds moving inwards causing the constriction.
Now make a silent “ah” sound whilst breathing out. There should be no excess turbulent noise in the airflow. Now your false folds are retracted and out of the way.
Move between step 2 and 3 and notice the difference in sensation of both positions.
Breath out whilst holding the silent “ah” shape and sing a couple of lines from any song you know well.
3.) “NG” glides – I've saved the best till last!
This is probably my favourite and most used warm ups in the voice studio; it can be used by any singer for warming up and stretching the entire range of the voice.
Say the word “sing” and extend the “ng” at the end. Sustain the “ng” sound on a comfortable pitch, the back of your tongue should be raised so that the sides of your tongue are touching the upper molars and the tip should rest behind the front bottom teeth.
Whilst maintaining a quiet to medium volume, glide up and down on the “ng” between any pitches that sit comfortably in your range. Keep the gliding slow and gentle and monitor the sensations you feel as you glide effortlessly – it should feel easy and you shouldn’t have to push or force breath.
Now glide from middle C to the G above and back down again (interval of 5th) using the “ng”. Now move up a semitone and do the same again. Say the whole word “sing” for each interval of the sequence but only glide on the actual “ng” sound. Keeping going up as far as feels comfortable and then back down again by sequence to where you started.
Keep your lower jaw gently open but be careful not to over open as you go through all the previous steps.
Thanks for reading my top 3 vocal tips for warming up your voice safely. If you want extra one to one help with your voice or you’re interested in online Zoom lessons or in person lessons in Brighton UK then contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep singing and have a great day! Adrian.
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