I’d like to share with you a vocal warm up exercise that will quickly get your voice working at it’s best.
With any type of physical motion, there are muscles that need to be warmed up to work at their best. Singing is no different.
One your singing muscles are warm, they will begin to function at their best. Only then will you be ready to hit the stage and deliver a stunning vocal performance!
Ok, this vocal warm up exercise does the following things.
As you can see, this exercise is highly effective!
In fact, if you were to practice this exercise daily for a month, you would notice enormous improvements in your voice.
To watch a video demonstration of this exercise, click here.
This vocal warm up exercise is called the lip-roll or lip trill. In my 30 years as a vocal coach it's one of the most effective vocal warm ups I've come across.
It’s done like this.
Place a hand either side of your mouth and use the tips of your fingers to hold up the weight of your cheeks.
When you push your fingertips in, you should feel where your teeth meet.
Now keep your lips very loose and floppy. Right?
Now blow like you would at the end of a long day. Really let out a good breath.
This will make a sound similar to a horse!
Now, while holding this pose, make a very dopey MMMMMM sound.
As you do this just allow your lips to flap freely with the sound. As you do this keep your tongue nice and relaxed.
The reason you need to keep it dopey is because this sound will gently pull your larynx down, which will disengage the muscles that cause you vocal tension.
With these muscles disengaged, it makes it far easier to sing through your bridges and into your upper vocal registers.
When you make this dopey “MMMMM” sound while holding up your cheeks, the sound becomes…
Sounds strange, I know!
But this sound is what will teach your voice how to discover your upper range.
On a side note, here's some more tips about how to discover your higher notes.
Now, back to the exercise...
Let’s just forget how ridiculous it sounds for a moment, and see how it helps us!
The next step is to go to your CD collection and pull out a song that you love to sing.
But instead of actually singing the song with words, you are going to replace the words this the “BRRRRRRR” sound. (The dopey “MMMMM” while holding your cheeks back)
Let me tell you something important.
If you do this vocal warm up exercise a few times (singing your favorite song with the “BRRRRR” sound) and then go back to singing the song with words, you will notice something amazing.
Everything feels easy. The higher notes are much easier to hit. Your tone is sweeter…
As a singer there's always the chance that at an event or friends party, you'll be asked to jump and and perform.
Which is why it's a very good idea to have an exercise up your sleeve to get ready to perform fast.
Watch this video and I'll show you the exact warm up exercise you should use in this situation to quickly warm your vocal cords (otherwise known as vocal folds).
The key thing you want to do when you are warming up your voice, is get more "presence".
This means that your sound is coming forward into your mask and not getting stuck in your throat.
Getting presence in your voice is going to give it a crisp edge to your tone, whereas if your voice isn't warm it will sound dull and uninteresting.
So to get this presence, the first step is to put your thumb under your jaw so you can feel when your swallowing muscles are tensing up.
If they are tensing up they are going to block your voice and your sound isn't going to come out the way you would like.
Then with your thumb under your jaw, begin to hum on a scale or melody.
What you're trying to do is hum as high as you can without your swallowing muscles tensing up and preventing your vocal cords from vibrating freely.
Keep going over it again and again until you feel these muscles start to relax. This will help your vocal folds begin working as they should.
Here's the part of the video where I demonstrate the exercise. (The video will begin at the correct time 1:33)
And here is the audio exercise I used in the video so you can practice:
What this is going to do is gently wake up your vocal chords and prepare them so they are ready to sing.
And it's also going to give your voice that presence that we talked about.
The beauty of this exercise is it works really quickly, and you can also do it with very little sound.
So it's something you can do in the car on the way to a venue... or you can even duck into the restroom if you need to quickly step away and get your voice ready.
Once again, it's a very good idea to have a vocal warm up exercise like this at your disposal.
Because the last thing you want is to have to go in front of a crowd when you know your voice is not going to sound it's best!
Once you're voice is starting to wake it up a good next step is to use songs to warm up your voice.
So what makes a good voice warm up song?
Ideally you should use something that won't stretch you too much. Until you're fully warmed up, it's a good idea to begin with songs that fit comfortably within your vocal range.
So good warm up songs for singing fit the following criteria:
Another vocal warm up exercise you can do is take a song you enjoy singing and substitute the lyrics for a warm up exercise.
For example, instead of singing the lyrics use the lip roll exercise that we discussed earlier. And sing the melody with the lip roll sound. This is an excellent way to gently warm up your vocal cords and get your voice sounding great.
Ok, let's now look at the third in this series of vocal warm ups.
Let's look at one final exercise for warming up your voice. This one is simple, but very effective. I use it all the time!
Watch the video below to see how it's done.
As I mention in the video, it can take a little while for your voice to start working smoothly!
It's kind of like getting up in the morning. It takes a little while to get everything moving.
The exercise I like to use with my clients to warm up the voice is a simple "AHHHH" vowel sound on an easy scale.
This is a perfect way to start warming up those muscles that are involved in the singing process.
When you watch me demonstrate the exercise in the video you'll notice that I'm exaggerating the "Ahhhh" sound, giving it an almost nasal quality.
I'm doing this by making a funny face that looks like this:
The reason it's a good idea to do this is it keeps your sound out of your throat, so your swallowing muscles don't get in the way of your voice.
Another way you can do this is to visualise that your sound is being projected into the middle of your forehead.
These little tricks are very useful because they keep your sound positioned in your "mask", which is going to give you your purest tone.
So practise this exercise next time you need to warm up your voice for singing!
It's easy and fun. And it gets those muscles warmed up, so your voice will begin to function smoothly and sound it's best.
All you need is to do this vocal warm up exercise for a few minutes and then you'll be ready to sing!
Breath control exercises while sometimes useful is not the place I will start when teaching vocal warmups. If you'd like a singing lesson about how breathing affects your voice, you can check out this page.
The short answer is that when your vocal cords are functioning correctly, your breathing will happen automatically. Sometimes focussing too much on breath techniques (particularly deep breath exercises) you can actually create more vocal strain.
So stick with the exercises on this page and you will be just fine.
I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial on how to warm up your voice. It's so important as a singer to know how to use Lip trills, tongue trills, and vowel sounds on songs and scales to prepare your voice for singing.
Enjoy the vocal exercises. I certainly did when I first discovered them.
And also, if you think your voice improved when you practiced this vocal exercise, you haven’t seen anything yet! There are many more vocal warm ups and exercises that make dramatic improvements with your singing
You can get a free series of voice-changing exercises just like this one by going to this page.
This series contains hundreds of the best vocal exercises and vocal warmups that will have a dramatic impact on your voice.