I have worked with thousands of singers and have never yet heard a singer who didn’t sound better after they had warmed up – says Rachel Bennett.
Warm ups increase confidence; knowing that you have already hit the notes you have to reach, your circulation will be pumping, giving you that ‘feel good’ factor!
Sometimes we don’t have a lot of time – we may be rushed to a gig late, or we may have unexpected demands made on us during the day when we wanted to prepare.
For these occasions, I have outlined a short and effective warm up.
1. The ‘jjjhhh’ breath
In a warm up we should begin with breath as it governs everything else that happens vocally.
Our connection to our support muscles for breathing is vital before a performance, steadying nerves, allowing for total support and confidence.
The ‘jjjhhh’ shape is blown out with curly lips – like when you were 10 and pretending to be a car. This engages the torso with the breath for ongoing support.
This shape and sound create a wonderful opening in the breath apparatus.
2. Intervals with your tongue out
Intonation (tunefulness) is the second most important aspect of singing in public. You can be many styles and have many vocal qualities, but you absolutely have to be ‘in tune’.
You also need to loosen up the muscles of the face as these can become tense with nerves, or from waiting around at gigs for your sound check.
The next exercise is a ‘two in one’ for both of these aspects.
Sing on intervals of 1-5 and raise the tonic by semitones and at the same time stretch your tongue straight out on an ‘ah’ shape.
You will find that you feel more open and that your jaw and tongue root (under the chin) feel softer.
3. Rhythmic arpeggios
Singing rhythmic arpeggios of ‘aeiou-u uoiea-a’ (the vowels forward and back) is a fun energizer, especially if you can make up a simple melody.
You can have some fun playing with the beat and moving around, so building up your adrenalin rush!
There are many ways to warm up breath, intonation (ear work), and to loosen up and energise your body. If you decide to get passionate about it, you will have a wonderful time discovering the magic of warming up!
Warming up is so easy to do once you have a routine, and if you visit your singing teacher regularly, you can always ask for new and interesting ways to warm up.
Rachel Bennett is a London-based vocal coach and singer songwriter. She is the lead singer / songwriter of RAIE and a Musical Director for theatre, television & recording studios across London. She has associations at WAC Performing Arts and Media College and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. You can learn more about Rachel on her Website or Facebook. You can see more of Rachel’s writing here.