What kind of warm-up do you do before your personal rehearsal time or general choral warm-up? Of course, warm-ups vary depending on the time of day you begin singing, your gender and age and what kind of singing you are about to do.
What are your default “must-do-no-matter what” warm-ups?
Here’s what our top vocal pedagogues, performers, & educators said ~
clarifications: Lip buzzes are lip trills. Penta-scales are five note scales. All of our vocal pedagogues had two exercises in common: 1) Use of lip buzzes or lip trills and slides (penta-scale to an octave + 1) and 2) slides or glissando as a semi-occluded vocal tract exercise for breathe motion, ease of use of vocal folds, and the thinning of them.
1. Jamea Sale: Vocal Coach, Singer, Private Instructor. http://www.jameasale.com/
- Yawn-sighs and puppy dog whines into descending slides on the penta-scale with neutral vowel.
- Ascending flex lip trills high to low [V15 exercise].
- Yoo-ah flexibility using skips and leaps [V14 exercise].
2. Anonymous, Professional Baritone/ Private Instructor.
As a vocal warm up, I’m more interested in stretching other muscles, relaxing and resting my voice, and eating a meal with protein about two hours before performing. Singing with regularity doesn’t require that much time to warm up. That being said . . .
- I use coffee stirrers, often two at a time, one if I’m feeling bold. Singing through straws emphasizes feeling your voice rather than listening to yourself helps avoid pushing too much air. Quick scales that span an octave and a half or two octaves.
- Continue with the semi-occluded vocal tract idea singing voiced consonants in the mid-range. “Th” is great as in “the” because it naturally fronts the tongue. It’s important to maintain an open pharynx/stable larynx while your mouth is closed.
- Classic coloratura warm ups on [i-e-a-o-u] moving quickly through penta-scales and nine scales. Low range to high, aiming to sing three half-steps below and above the range I’ll need to sing during that day’s performance.
3. Anonymous, Professional Lyric Soprano / Private Instructor.
- Lip trills using the penta-scale ascending and descending.
- Repeat scales on 16th notes ascending and descending on one breath for at least 10 counts with the last note being a half note to prep air for the next repetition.
- Range scales with full extensions as high and as low as one can sing with agility.
4. Andrew Schmidt, Choral Conductor, Tenor. https://www.andrewphillipschmidt.com/
- Falsetto slides, up or down using do-sol-do, or sol-do-sol to engage the crico-thyroid while making sure to move plenty of air through the instrument.
- Lip Buzzes descending in chain succession: Sol-Fa-Mi-Re-Do, followed by an immediate ascent by a semi-tone and then repeated. Sing 2 or 3 sets before taking a breath.
- [u]-scales to the 9th: While maintaining placement, breath motion, and thin vocal folds, start lower in the range (usually low G) and sing a scale that extends to the upper 9th and descends again. Move through the scale quickly working to maintain placement, flexibility via a thin/light mechanism, and resonance with a vibrato spin.
5. Christine Freeman, Choral Conductor, Sopranohttps://www.festivalsingers.org/staff/
- Descending lip trills slides on [u].
- [Ma Me Mi Mo Mu] 12312342345345645 4 3 2 1 for flexibility
- “Zip-Zip-Zip-Za” using do-mi-so-li-ti-do-so-mi-do for range
Jennifer Berroth, Choral Conductor, Alto. http://www.festivalsingers.org/staff/
- Lip trills on descending penta-scale.
- Ascending glissando penta-scale on a warm [i] vowel. Use a K or G consonant at the beginning to ensure strong closer (adduction) with vocal folds.
- As a vocal strengthener, use [V] to sing 1-3-5-8-5-3-1. Rest the top teeth lightly on the lower lip as you sing [V] continuously.
Lynn Swanson, Choral Conductor, Mezzo. https://www.festivalsingers.org/staff/
- [Fu] descending penta-scale slides mid to low range for a gentle activation and to focus and streamline the air.
- Lip trills – ascending and descending penta-scales to full scales lip trills from mid to high range to ensure support of diaphragm.
- [Nyu] to [Nya] or “Zing-Zing-Zing-Za” ascending and descending skips mixed with semi-tone movement for intonation and agility. It’s called The Mel after Melissa Shallberg who uses it very effectively. 1-3-5-dim.7-7-8-5-3-1.
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