The most common reason for skipping a vocal warm-up is TIME or lack thereof. This is especially true during this time of year. You may be preparing for Christmas concerts, recitals, caroling or a holiday show. It’s SUPER EASY to skip a warm-up when you’re in a rush. I get it. I’ve done it. And I will tell you that every time I’ve skipped a warm-up, I’ve regretted it. If you’ve never warmed up your voice before singing you may not know what you’re missing. Let me share my own experience with vocal warm-ups and how it changed my singing.
When I was in grad school I was cast as the Governess in Benjamin Britten’s opera “Turn of the Screw”. Because of its 20th century tonality, I spent hours in the practice room learning notes. I was pressed for time and I only had a couple of weeks to learn the music before we started rehearsing. I was overwhelmed with the amount of time it was taking to learn just the notes. To streamline my practicing, I started to skip my warm-up. Not long after this change, I noticed I was feeling vocally tired and my throat would tighten up after just 15 minutes of singing. I knew it was related to the skipped warm-up so I ‘forced’ myself to take the time to do it.
I grabbed a vocal method book I owned, but never used called “24 Vocalises for Soprano or Mezzo Soprano” by Mathilde Marchesi. The vocalises in that book combined with a new vocal warm-up from my teacher changed my practicing, but it changed my singing in a way I never could have imagined. My top notes soared, I had more resonance throughout my range than I ever had before. My voice teacher started asking me what I was doing differently. My vocal coach said it was the most open-throated singing he’d ever heard from me. It opened up my voice in a way I could never have done on my own at that point. It was life changing for me. It altered my approach to singing and teaching from that point on.
My vocal transformation may seem like it happened in a short amount of time, but at that point I was in my third year of grad school and had been studying voice for 10 years. Vocal warm-ups had been a mainstay in my lessons and practicing. The combination of the new vocal warm-up from my teacher and the Marchesi book simply released what I had been working towards for the last 10 years. Nonetheless, it is a powerful lesson for all of us that vocal warm-ups can transform your singing, sometimes beyond what you ever imagined.
Why is that?
What is this POWER that vocal warm-ups have?
Vocal warm-ups can isolate new concepts and techniques to simplify and ensure success.
What concepts and techniques can Vocal Warm-ups do for you?
- Improve vocal freedom
- Learn how to trill
- Learn how to sing intervals
- Release tension
- Focus the mind
- Encourage body awareness
- Help a choir have a balanced sound
- Help choir members to have matching vowels
- Help choir members to tune with each other
- Allow a sustained breath flow
- Strengthen support muscles and coordination
- Tune the vowel resonances
- Increase agility/flexibility
- Recover from vocal misuse or damage
- Improve rhythm
- Extend vocal range
- Improve tone
- Coordinate the muscles of singing with the muscles of breathing
- Make the register transitions smooth
- Improve vowels
- Improve range of dynamics
This is not an exhaustive list, but many of these techniques are the foundation of singing. There is no ONE vocal warm-up that will change your voice or the sound of your choir. It is the combination of warm-ups for your unique voice or choir that can make significant changes. The best way to find the warm-ups that are best for you is by working with a trusted and skilled voice teacher. You can read my blog post about finding a great voice teacher HERE.
My prayer is that the warm-ups that I offer on this blog will inspire you not only to use warm-ups regularly, but to find the warm-ups that target the specific skill or technique you are trying to learn or teach.
Do you have a favorite vocal warm-up? Is there a vocal warm-up that changed your singing? Share in the comments. I would love t hear from you!