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.
You know how you gravitate towards the same stretches that feel really good pre or post workout? This my favorite “stretch” exercise for singing. It’s simple, you can do it in a car without having people stare at you or in my case have my children say: “You’re too loud!”, it’s helpful when you are tired or you just woke up or you when you are stressed.
Note pattern(s): 5432171234321
Solfege: sol fa mi re do ti do re mi fa mi re do
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
For Sopranos or Tenors, start in D Major, starting note is A. For Mezzos and Basses, start in the key of C Major, starting note is G.
Or…. if you’re in the car – pick any note that feels good!
WHAT SKILL(S) DOES IT TEACH?
- Humming is an easy way to begin making sounds.
- Humming is AWESOME for people who struggle to match pitch to either the piano or the radio or guitar or whatever. The sympathetic vibrations help a singer find the center of the pitch.
- This particular note pattern is a great ear-training exercise.
- Use this exercise as a way to learn how to transition from one register to another. For example, middle to chest voice or head to middle voice in women or falsetto to chest in men.
- The best humming is done with lips together, tongue in resting position, jaw relaxed, teeth slightly apart (to help keep the jaw relaxed) and the sound focused towards the ‘mask’ or front of the face.
- Remind your student that humming must be ACTIVE. It’s easy to be lazy when humming.
- The front of the face should feel very buzzy.
- Work on getting more sound, less air. In other words, no breathy humming, okay?
So simple. So effective.
You can hum on any number of pitches and patterns so go crazy and share in the comments what you are humming today!