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  • Writer's pictureDana Musil - Co-Creator of Audition Vocal Toolbox

What is the best vocal warm up routine?

Answer: There are many fantastic ways to prep your voice for your vocal session. The key ingredient to getting the best out of your vocal warm up is understanding the difference between "warm ups" and "exercises".


Let us give you inspiration to make the most of your vocal warm up routine.


A warm up should be just that…a warm up. So, just like you would stretch before going to the gym or a dance class, you should warm up before singing or any voice work. Start gentle and work your way up to something a bit more advanced. Making any sound requires the coordination of around 100+ muscles in your body, so you can imagine how exhausting it would be if pushed too hard from the start. The most important thing is to begin with something gentle.

1. Hydrate - drink water (and steam if you wish). Steaming hydrates your vocal folds directly, so be mindful to minimise voice use for around 30 mins after steaming. Avoid adding any oils as they can irritate your voice.

2. Check in with your mind and where you’re at emotionally.

3. Stretch, move and relax your body.

4. Breathe.

5. Start with small pitch intervals, slower tempo and an SOVT sound (lip or tongue trills, raspberries, fricatives, straw phonation, puffy cheeks and more).

If you take singing lessons, your teacher will cater a warm up that suits you and where you are at with your singing experience. If you don’t currently have a teacher, we encourage you to check out AVT: The App for some warm up ideas that gently pace you into your singing session.


WARMING UP VS EXERCISES:

Think of a WARM UP as increasing the muscle temperature and blood flow to the vocal mechanism. Ultimately, singing is a physical activity and should be treated as such. When you “WARM UP” you’re warming your vocal mechanism and muscles to prep for optimum use. Warming up also helps to prevent the risk of injury, so it's a really important step before performances and singing practice even if you think you can go without!

SINGING EXERCISES are more technical and focus on developing specific areas of your vocal technique.


TO WRAP UP:

Vocal Warm Up = To warm, increase blood flow and prep for healthy and efficient use.

Singing Exercises = To build skill and develop areas of your vocal technique.


HERE IS A VOCAL WARM UP+EXERCISE ROUTINE IDEA FROM AVT:


WARM UP


1. Stretch your body, massage and breathe

Check in with your body, breath flow and alignment. Stretch the muscles of the body and get the blood flow active. This will be very beneficial when it comes to healthy and efficient voice work. Try a spinal roll and then follow with a gentle breathing exercise. We have both in the AVT app that you can use.


2. SOVTs on sustained note

Starting gently with any Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract (SOVT) sound on a sustained, comfortable pitch for you. This is like a vocal massage. It will help with coordinating airflow and efficient vocal fold vibration. Sounds you could use – lip trill, tongue trill, puffy cheeks, humm, voiced fricatives etc).


3. Glide down the slide

Exactly how it sounds. Sing a slow descending glide first with a range of a fifth with any SOVT sound (lip trills, raspberries, fricatives and more). Then graduate into vowels using a range of an octave.


EXERCISES


4. Flexibility begins with ...

Scales! Now is the time to start experimenting with scales. Perhaps start with a 5 note major scale ascending and descending. Then have fun using other scales like minor, pentatonic, blues and more.


5. Range expansion time

Use a larger vocal range with your warm ups. Try arpeggios, scales and sirens throughout your range.


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WARM UP?

This will vary from person to person but most research suggests the optimum warm up duration is around 10-20 mins. Also, the ideal duration can change based on a number of factors (reflux, food, asthma, hydration, medications, etc.). With time, you'll learn what suits you the best!

Remember: If a vocal warm up feels effortful, take a step back. Your voice shouldn't hurt during a warm up or when you're singing.


Every voice is unique so if you feel something isn’t right, please consult a medical and voice professional.


ENJOY your new vocal warm up regime and check out the Audition Vocal Toolbox App for more warm up and exercise ideas!




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