VoiceCouncil will no longer be updated. Articles will still be available for some time.

The 3 Best Vocal Warm Ups Before a Show

Rock band in action. Singing and recording in the studio

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.


  • Warming up is essential. Anyone that suggests that it is not, is a fool and/or doesn’t know what they are talking about. At TVS we do a series of semi-occluded phonations ( buzzing ) on nasal consonants and then transition to several different varieties of onsets + sirens. One are for coordination and tuning to work on connecting the bridges and the other is to build muscular strength for building a chest voice above the vocal break and stability.

    In the TVS program, The Four Pillars of Singing, we offer several training work flows that show students exactly where to go and what to do inside the training program for a very effective warm up routine. Below is one of several such routines. Click the link:

    https://thevocaliststudio.box.com/s/75139elaz00n0eufjgjah5pflf0ujn4p

    If anyone has any questions about this, feel free to contact me personally at the web site or on the customer service chat system at the bottom of the web site. http://www.TheVocalistStudio.com.

    Also, here is a screen capture tour of the TVS training web site. Thought I would toss this in here, since I just shared it with another vocal forum. Have a great day!

    https://youtu.be/QhQyfVxaPbc

  • All of the above are great and work. I personally have always used these below and found them to be extremely effective.

    I find vibrating your lips over a major scale to be the best warm up for the throat and engaging the proper muscles.

    “3-Octave slurs” from falsetto down are best for opening your range and truly controlling the transition between your 3 voice types.

    And quick, staccato, major scales, up and down while alternating between consonants are best for warming up your coordination, speed and accuracy for lyrical and rhythmic delivery.