All voice users can benefit from daily vocal exercises. These exercises not only stretch and unpress the vocal folds, but they also help condition the voice.

Speaking and singing requires the use of multiple muscle groups. Like all other motor skills, coordination and stamina in your voice is built through daily exercise.

An example of a vocal warm-up is given below. There are many ways to efficiently warm-up the voice! Work with a voice teacher or speech language pathologist specializing in voice to find the exercises that are of most benefit to you!

Example Warm-Up Routine:

  1. Choose a "semi-occluded vocal tract" exercise - such as straw phonation, a lip trill, tongue trill, or voiced consonant [v]/[z] - on a 5-note scale, a triad, an arpeggio, or a glissando/glide.

  2. Tongue and jaw release exercises.

  3. Staccati exercises on triads and arpeggios (13531 or 1358531)

  4. Messa di voce exercises: slow and even, soft-loud-soft series on one note.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Warm-up the middle and low register first.

  • Take your time. Give your body and brain time to process between repetitions.

  • A warm-up should take about 10-15 minutes max. If you find that you consistently need 20-30 minutes to feel ready to sing, investigate this with your teacher or another trusted voice professional.

  • Your warm-up sets the stage for other exercises that you may be working on to train vocal coordination or specific vocal skills. Work to understand the differences between your vocal "warm up" and vocal "conditioning" exercises. (Though they may overlap.)

  • Warm-up and practice in a calm, acoustically friendly, distraction-free environment, when possible.

Check out this short video for more information on the science behind straw phonation!

Banner photo credit: By Horia Varlan from Bucharest, Romania - Eight drinking straws in rainbow colors, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45899088