You wouldn’t lift weights without first warming up and you wouldn’t do an aerobics class without first warming up, so why would you sing without first warming up? When we sing we are using our vocal cords (soft tissue) and the larynx muscles and if we don’t stretch and warm them up before starting to sing ‘properly’ then we risk injuring ourselves and losing our voices. Not good right?
Start carefully, quietly humming or blowing air through your lips. This is a good opportunity to practise good breathing technique too. And we should then gradually build up until we are ready to sing normally - i.e. the song you are learning. It’s a good idea to think about what kind of technique you will need for the particular song you’re working on. For example, do you have some notes which are held for a long time or do you have lots of quick runs, or perhaps you need to get really, really low… Your warm up should help you get ready for that kind of singing.
Inhale and fill your tummy, then feel the expansion in your sides and back (without lifting your shoulders or holding tension). Hum gently with your lips just touching and with plenty space in your mouth while counting to ten. Repeat a few times.
Inhale as above and then slowly let out the air to a shhhh sound. Keep going as long as you can. Take a few breaths before continuing. Try the exercise for a variety of different sounds, ffff, ssss, maaa, meee…
Try a tongue twister. To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle...Which wrist watch is a Swiss wrist watch, which wrist watch is a Swiss wrist watch. Which wrist watch etc… Or...Shut up the shutters and sit in the shop, shut up the shutters and sit in the shop. Shut up the etc… Repeat a few times, gradually building up the speed at which you sing these.
Hop up and down some octaves to mmmm (bottom note) ahhhhh (top note) mmmm (bottom note again). Then move up a step and repeat. Keep going until too high but don’t let it get uncomfortable. You might notice that you eventually manage to get a bit higher.
Choose your favourite song and turn a piece of the melody into an exercise, this could also be a tricky part of the song you’re learning, e.g. a difficult run or a melody which is hard to remember. For example, the opening instrumental part of Clocks by Coldplay. Try singing this to ‘tee’ and then ‘toe’ and then ‘ta’ etc.
Sometimes, when we’re short on time it is tempting to skip warming up properly, but try and see it as an important part of your practise and it actually can be fun and challenging if you choose the right exercises!