I don’t know how many times I have seen Voice Science likened to Sport Science suggesting that singing is similar to sport. Interestingly, it actually is a good likeness and therefore, people need to sit up and take note:
We do not expect an athlete to perform well without warming up their muscles first, so why do some people expect the voice to perform well without warming up their muscles first?
- Some people? Let’s start by considering ourselves. When starting singing practice, do you dedicate time to a warm up every time? Every time? Really?
- What about the choral conductor? Does your MD encourage warm ups before rehearsal and before a concert? Choirs are filled with a cross section of singers from young voices to old voices, trained voices to amateur voices. Some of these singers may only sing once a week in choir and others may suffer vocal fatigue from working in a busy office, in a classroom or even just from
inefficient voice use. Others may be seasoned singers and may have even been singing all day already, but it’s not going to hurt to do some extra exercises. The point is, that all of the voices in the choir are important and each of them needs looking after and nurturing for a different reason, so why miss out the warm up?
Choral conductors please take note, as I have seen and heard instances of professional MD’s not warming up a choir properly before singing. It is bad practice. If you are a trained musician, rather than a vocalist, it is IMPERATIVE that you consider the vocal health needs of the chorus you’re working with, before making an informed choice whether to disregard vocal warm-ups.
I rehearsed with a UK based chorus during 2015 and without prior warm-ups, less than 4 lines into the music, the conductor stopped everybody to complain… because the chorale in question did not sound “warm”. Perhaps, a simple warm up would have generated the desired result?
- What about the genre you sing? Do warm-ups matter for a classical singer but not a rock star? Or for a public speaker, but not a broad room director? What about warming up for stage performances, but not for work in the recording studio or for film?
Let it be said right here and now – for absolute certain – that everybody can benefit from efficiently warming-up the voice.
Singing involves muscles. Lots of muscles. Probably more muscles than you even thinking of right now. Clever scientists prove that indeed, muscles perform at their best when they are warm. This provides a good explanation as to why our daft vocal exercises at the start of a lesson are called: “Warm-Ups”. Really original – but easy to remember, at least.
Have you ever been (rudely) awoken by the telephone, politely answered it and sounded like some kind of creaky alien? When you wake up first thing in the morning, your voice might sound a bit groggy or fluffy and it takes a little while to warm into speaking.
The same thing goes for warming up to use your voice ‘professionally’, rather than just for everyday conversation, whether that is for singing, speaking to a room of delegates or just chatting on the phone. You really should get your muscles warm so that they’re working well.
- 1. Vocal Health is key. If you’re using your voice professionally, you want to be able to use it as often as required, without hinderance. By warming up efficiently, you’re far less likely to do any lasting damage. Some damage may be easily repairable by changing bad vocal habits. Others may need vocal rest or reduced voice use. Many more serious vocal issues can be helped if you see a good ENT doctor. But some horrors can leave vocalists out of action for months, so why risk it? Let’s face it, your voice is the tool you use to earn your living and so, it is worth looking after it as best as you can.
- 2. You’ll sound better! Whether you improve your diction, the clarity of tone, the height and depth of pitch at which you can easily sing or just use them as a tool to reduce nervousness before a performance – there is something to help everyone during vocal warm-ups.
- 3. It takes approximately 3 minutes to do a quick, efficient vocal warm up.
Of course, you can spend longer, but for the purposes of NOT making excuses or missing them out, 3 minutes is all you need.
- 4. Singing should be enjoyable. Some singers might be a bit stressed or tired after a long day, some singers are shy, or some may have just got stuck in traffic on the way to the studio, a gig or rehearsal and feel a bit wired. Warm-ups are non-judgemental and almost always ridiculous, thus providing a convenient way of loosening up, de stressing and getting rid of any inhibitions or woes. Most people, not just singers, enjoy a bit of laughter, stretching and silliness to revitalise, loosen up and depending on the occasion, meet new people, before getting down to business.
For ideas on Warm-Ups, please see some of my other blog posts, search some of the amazing music teacher forums available online or book a lesson.
Love Kate x