There is more to a proper vocal warm up than simply warming up your voice. Be conscious of your entire body – this is extremely important to not just your vocal performance, but your long term vocal health.
Here are some tips for how to utilize full body tactics to properly warm up your vocals before a singing or speaking engagement:
In order to have the best air flow and therefore the best sound, you need to have good posture (even when sitting down). A good tip for maintaining good posture is to imagine a string connecting from the top of your head to the tip of your tailbone – like a puppet. Keep that string pulled tight and straight.
Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart and distribute your weight equally on both legs. Keep your head up and shoulders back – every part of your body should be in the same line.
If sitting, follow the same recommendations as you would for standing, but also keep your back off the chair, sitting toward the edge of your seat.
2. DEEP BREATHING
Most people don’t realize it, but they have developed the bad habit of only using the top of the lungs when breathing, which doesn’t utilize the diaphragm. Not employing the diaphragm also prohibits you from using the full power of your voice.
If you are tense at all while breathing, it will resound in the muscles of your vocal folds. Breathe normally, but be conscious of keeping your shoulders low and your chest relaxed. Concentrate on staying loose throughout your core.
Try placing a hand on your stomach to remind yourself that that’s the part that should be moving up and down and NOT your chest and shoulders. Hold an “s” sound (like a hiss) when you exhale to control the amount of air that you can expel.
3. RELEASE YOUR JAW
Tension held in your jaw will keep you from your best sound. Your jaw is the instrument your voice comes out of, so you have to take care of it.
Massage your checks with the heel of each hand. Push in and down right below your cheekbone and rotate in a clockwise motion. Your jaw should open without you even thinking about it and be forced to relax. Repeat this exercise several times.
4. DRINK WARM BEVERAGES
Hydrate with warm liquids, not cold. Ice cold water will adversely clam up your vocal folds.
5. NO CAFFEINE or CIGARETTES
Avoid caffeine and nicotine, which constrict your throat and keep you from sounding your best
6. SING YOUR SCALES
Doing scales warms up your voice slowly, extending it to its top and bottom ranges.
Be sure to maintain proper breathing techniques which will make it easier to hit notes on both ends of the register.
Go at a steady pace – you will hurt your voice if you start off too low or too high, forcing it to extremes it is not properly warmed up for.
Trills help relax the lips and tongue, engage your breathing, and eliminate tension.
For lip trills, simply create a raspberry sound by loosely placing your lips together.
Experiment with different consonant sounds, like “h” and “b.”
Go slowly up and down your range, but don’t do anything that’s uncomfortable or hard to maintain.
For tongue trills, think of the Spanish “r.” Place your tongue behind your upper teeth and exhale strongly. Hold the sound and air steady, varying the pitch while trilling.