There are a lot of expensive ‘how to sing’ programs out there. I’ve tried many of them, including some well known ones that I’m sure you’ve heard of such as Singing Success by Brett Manning and The Superior singing method. Even as an opera singer, it’s useful as a practitioner to play around with these kinds of things to see if anything works. Here’s the thing though; I’ve found a lot of channels out there who basically do the same stuff for free and with less rhetoric!
I’ve recently received a lot of questions around the best ways to warm up. I am still in the process of putting together my own youtube series to cover everything I do. Until then, I have a great recommendation for you. This is a free spotify clip from Jacob’s Vocal Academy (I have included its interface further down). Jacob’s Vocal Academy is also a youtube channel you can get to here. One of my own favourites is the following:
These intervals allow the voice to caress easily from note to note, relaxing the cords slightly during the descending intervals, and increasing the intensity a little on the ascending intervals.
Here’s a short set of hints about how warming up should be thought about:
Firstly; what is ‘warming up’? I think people have the tendency to over complicate this process. Warming up is simply this:
- Warming up the small muscles in and around the voice mechanism so that they are holding the vocal cords tort and phonating them evenly.
- Allowing a bit more blood to fill the mucous membrane around the surface of the vocal cords for more protection during phonation.
- Waking up your breathing mechanism, which is simply a full contraction of your diaphragm and a natural opening of the lower ribs (not forced).
- Waking up your ‘small twitch’ posture muscles so that you are comfortably standing in an upright position with your neck tall (but not over extended), your lower spine curved inwards (tucking your pelvis in rather than poking your bum out) and your sternum (middle chest) held a little bit out (think of an army general stopping midway through puffing up his chest).
Warm-ups 3 and 4 can be achieved with various exercizes I have mentioned in the following – pay particular attention to Pavarotti’s diaphragm exercize, the backwards ‘ssss’, the ‘hot potato’ and ‘hugging a tree’:
What does ‘singing from the diaphragm’ feel like?
Celine Dion shows us an amazing exercize for lifting the soft palate.
The second common ‘myth’ of singing: “Sing from the diaphragm.”
The first common myth of singing: “Support more”
As for steps 1 and 2, here is Jacob’s spotify link:
These are the types of warm-ups that myself and many of my colleagues in the professional opera and musical theatre industry will do on a daily basis. These are not the full on ‘vocal weightlifting’ exercizes (of which songs are often better anyway), these are the easy, smooth, conditioning exercizes that will keep your voice lubricated and in a constant state of readiness. Pull them out in the morning when you have little time to prepare for the day, then bring them out again towards your night-time rehearsal or even prior to a show just to keep the vocal mechanism moving.
Beyond this is Jacob’s youtube channel that I mentioned previously. It has a lot of exercizes that you can quickly use at any point in the day. These are no-nonsense exercizes that you will find scattered all over expensive how to sing programs.
The best exercizes for warming up are not complicated, they are simple, normally require a very easy consonant and vowel combination and they are fairly quick. They are designed to keep your vocal cords fresh – challenging enough to ready them for a big sing, but easy enough for your voice to remain free of strain.
I would like to thank Jacob for having such a large, free source of information. I would recommend my dear readers to have a look at his channel and his spotify as these are the types of exercizes you should be doing. Simplicity is the soul of sufficiency!
Happy singing everyone