The Foundations of Singing: Why Are Vocal Warm Ups So Important? : Singing is a physical activity and as with all physical activities, it’s essential to warm up the muscles and the elements of your body that you will be using.
Carrying out vocal warm ups is no different in principle, to an athlete warming up their muscles before competing or training. As a singer, you are heavily relying on both technique and muscle support to assist you in getting the very best from your voice and if you do not train and maintain those muscles, (especially your diaphragm), then you cannot expect them to function to their full capacity. You need to give them the necessary care and attention, not only to enhance your performance, but to avoid short-term or long-term injury.
So here is a brief overview of some of the things that you can do to warm your voice up effectively before a performance.
Tip 1 – Breathing is best!
One of the most simple and yet most effective things that you can do as a singer are breathing exercises. By repeatedly inhaling, holding and releasing your breath, in intervals, you are opening up and warming up your diaphragm, which is one of the most important muscles used when singing. Breathing and breathing exercises are certainly one of the key techniques to master and in all honesty, without mastering them first, then no matter how many other vocal techniques you have learnt and excelled in, it is unlikely that they will be fully effective, as they will have no support system behind them.
Tip 2 – Rest and relaxation
Another essential part to ensuring that all of your vocal ‘cogs’ are working in motion, is to make sure that your facial muscles and jaw are warmed up and nicely relaxed, as any tension that you carry in your jaw area, can effect and restrict your throat and vocal chords. You can achieve this by chewing gum throughout the day of the performance, which will naturally and gradually warm up your jaw or you can do facial exercises, such as over exaggerated simulated chewing, but you’d need to do this quite intensely and over a shorter period of time.
Tip 3 – Hum, Hum, Hum!
In the run up to your performance you will need to warm up your vocal chords themselves, but you should try to avoid singing actual words, as they can be harsh on your vocal chords when they are not warm. The way to do this, is to either hum the melody of the songs that you wish to sing or carry out straight forward vocal scales. This way you can ensure that your voice is nice and warm, without creating any negative impact or damage on it.
Tip 4 – Create a Buzz!
The final area to ensure that you have warmed up on your face are your lips. You can do this by carrying out a simple exercise that involves vibrating your lips to make a sound that is not unlike the sound that a horse makes after neighing. It will feel a little strange and will probably tickle to begin with, but it is amazing for getting your lips to work in sync and harmony with the rest of your face.
To conclude. If you don’t warm up your voice/vocal chords properly then you are never truly going to get the best that you can from your voice, but, even more importantly, you could cause long-term and even permanent damage to your vocal chords. Unlike many other musical instruments, such as the drums, if you ‘break’ or damage your voice you cannot replace it!
I hope you find these tips and techniques helpful to assist you in trying to always get the very best from your voice, by knowing how.