If you’ve been here before you can skip these beginning paragraphs and jump to the warm-up. If it’s your first time, read on! Every Wednesday I will share a vocal tip or warm-up. After 17 years of teaching people how to sing I have so many things to share with you every week!
As a voice teacher I am frequently approached and asked for a vocal warm-up for use in a choir or as a soloist. I LOVE warm-ups and think it’s really crucial to use them whenever you are going to sing. It’s an easy step to skip when you are practicing (because who doesn’t want to get to the fun stuff like songs?), but it can also be THE tool that takes you or your choir from average to AHHHMAZING! The trick is knowing which warm-ups you or your choir needs, when to use it and why it works.
That’s A LOT of variables! It’s also the main reason why I don’t like giving a warm-up on the fly. They are most effective when used under the correct circumstances. It’s really difficult for me to explain all these crucial elements in a short amount of time. Hence, the Vocal Wednesdays! Woo-hoo!
Great warm-ups are passed down from teachers to students or teacher to teacher. It’s a lot like story-telling in that way. Teaching voice is both an art and science. Having exercises is one thing, but knowing how to use them is a whole other matter. You will get the most out of your warm-ups if you understand what sorts of techniques or skills it teaches and then use them accordingly. My hope is that Vocal Wednesdays can help you not only find warm-ups you like, but that you learn what skill each warm-up can teach and then be able to use it at the appropriate time.
IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet and is used by singers and teachers of singers to have a standardized guide to pronunciation. For future reference, I will always put IPA in brackets [ ]. I will also include a pronunciation guide of what it sounds like in non-word syllables.
Solfege: sol fa me re do ti do re mi fa me re do
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
Start in the key of C Major, which means your starting note is G.
WHEN CAN I USE THIS?
I primarily use this for men in their chest voice.
WHAT SKILL(S) DOES IT TEACH?
- it teaches legato vs. staccato singing
- The staccato helps add weight and depth to the chest register.
- the [f] and [h] consonants promote air flow.
- make sure your singer(s) are creating a noticeable difference between the legato and staccato.
- the shortness of the staccato should be achieved with the abdominal muscles, NOT the throat. Tell your singer you want to see a “santa” belly, in a slightly more subtle way.
- Make sure your singer(s) are using the [h] consonant in the the staccato section. I have noticed a tendency for singers to sing it with a glottal onset. If this is the case, you may have to have them overdo the [h] at first and then as they grow accustomed to singing without a glottal, you can ask them to make a baby [h] and then none at all. Listen to the audio below to understand the difference between the onsets.
This audio demonstrates onset. 1: Breathy 2: Glottal 3: Balanced (this is the one we want 99% of the time)
Was this warm-up helpful to you? Did you enjoy it? Please share in the comments!