Reap huge benefits for your performance energy with a little commitment -says Daniel Zangger Borch.
One of the quickest and most efficient ways a pop singer can “up their game” is to commit to a vocal warm up routine.
Why? You might be interested to know that voice researchers actually have difficulties with answering this question – no one can point a sure finger at all of the specific benefits of warm ups and how they should be done.
However, there is one thing that most researchers agree upon: vocal warm ups lower your PTP (Phonation Threshold Pressure).
This means that it is easier to get the vocal folds into vibrations after a warm up.
This, in turn, makes it easier to sing; thus, you probably don’t press and push so hard when you start to sing and – voila – your voice is less stressed.
Your Own Warm Up Strategy
It is important that you find your personal strategy for your warm up routine: the exercises you prefer, the time of day in relation to your gig and the environment that works best for you.
I’ve seen the following warm up preferences:
- Some singers prefer to be alone backstage humming and eating apples
- Others like to have a chewing gum and sing a bit louder with company of the band members
- Some just warm up at home and keep the voice warm until gig time by random vocalising
Here is what I would recommend:
Start your warm up with a massage, using your hands to message the muscles around the neck, jaw and tongue root.
Then, do some stretching to increase the blood flow. This will help you to establish a good connection between your body and voice. After this, I start to vocalize.
Now, focus on exercises that create positive oral pressures: ‘W’s and ‘B’s. This will lead to large vocal fold movement with minimum collision forces. In other words, “a lot of heat – no wear”.
A Warm Up is Not a Sound Check
Most importantly, I separate the idea of a warm up from a vocal sound check.
I define a vocal sound check as the rehearsing of your form and technique before you go on stage.
This is when you sing something from your set list or move into exercises with different vowel combinations.
Singers who sing every day (e.g. in a show, a band as artists, or entertainers) are often so familiar with their voice that they only need to warm up and not the “vocal sound check”.
Singers new to a situation, or who are not singing regularly, probably need to check in on their technique before going on stage.
Warming Up For a Show
As singing has become more “visual”, choreography has entered the lives of many singers.
If you are going to do a 3 minute high intense TV appearance or audition I recommend a warm up routine that leads up to a bit higher heart rate than a singer who’s going to perform sitting still with a guitar.
By that I mean not only starting you warm up routine with of bodily activity but also ending it with a light pulse raising bodily activity.
The idea is that having a higher heart rate gets the blood into the muscles in good time, possibly avoiding lactate and fatigue that can come from sudden high energy performances.
Most singers who do a light pulse raising activity for this kind of report huge benefits in terms of their energy for performance.
My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids
mia22ayleen – “Ronan” by Taylor Swift (Cover)
Hi! You have a good presence in your performance but I think you should try this song in different keys, just to check out where it suits you the best. Also, try to make some of the notes less breathy.
John Kirk – “Soul Searchin'” (Original)
Cool to listen to an original song. Transpose it down a whole step and try to not slide around on so many of the phrases, even though it gives a nice bluesy touch. I would like to hear you go straight into the right pitch of the phrase, now and then.
Briana Brooks – “Human Nature” (Cover)
Very nice version and you’re a lovely singer. I think that the piano gets in the way of your vocal ability. I want you to focus solely on refining your singing even more before you implement the piano – then bring in the piano when you are stronger on that instrument.
Ayan Rafique – “Human Nature” (Cover)
Yeah! You would benefit from practicing details like exact pitch, onsets/offsets, vocal riffing and so on. But cool that you sing this very vocally ”rangy” song – keep it up!
Daniel Zangger Borch is one of Sweden’s most recognised vocal coaches. He has been a regular on adjudicating panels for popular TV shows such as ‘Idol’, ‘True Talent’ and ‘X-Factor’. He is also a professional singer, recording artist (with seven albums) and songwriter. Daniel holds a PhD in Music performance and is Head of the Voice Centre, Stockholm and Zangger Vocal Art. His new book, book “The Ultimate Vocal Voyage” has been released internationally. Stay tuned for his Vocal Work Out Of The Day training program for singers in popular music.