Basic Vocal Warm-Ups for Actors and Singers
Just like athletes stretching out their body and muscles before a big game, vocalists and actors alike must make vocal warm-ups a habit before a performance or rehearsal. Stretching can prevent the athlete from unnecessary damage and pain. Stretching the voice is just as critical. The voice is one of the main tools of an actor, it being the instrument that carries key elements of the playwright’s work: the character and the story. On the other hand, the voice is the main tool of a singer, through which the message and the central emotion of a song are projected.
To ensure that a performance entertains the audience effectively, the voice has to be both controlled and projected clearly so that the audience can hear them well. To achieve this, vocal warm-ups are used to condition singers and actors’ vocal muscles, preparing them for the intense vibrations of the upcoming performance.
Ideally, vocal warm-ups should be done every day. Do some simple exercises for 20 minutes every morning. Remember, vocal warm-ups help grow the skills that you already have and unlock your potential capabilities.
Basic Mechanics of the Voice
Before we jump in to the actual vocal warm-ups, here are important mechanics to remember.
Practice proper breathing.
All vocal sounds start with a breath, so good breathing habits are the base of a good voice. Breathe in through your nose. Feel your lungs fill up and your rib cage expand. Hold for four counts, then exhale through your mouth.
Mind your posture.
The best voice is produced when body posture is erect yet relaxed. Don’t allow your shoulders to hunch. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Imagine there’s a string that winds all along your spine and comes out the top of your head. Imagine yourself pulling that string and straightening out your spine, your neck, and lastly, your head. Your chin should not dip or rise but be level with the floor.
Relax your muscles.
Actors should remain relaxed throughout breathing and speaking, seeking to reduce tension in the neck, shoulders, jaw, back, and stomach. The quickest way to damage your voice is to sing with tension.
Vocal Warm-Ups Exercises
Vocal warm-ups should be challenging the same way that going to the gym is challenging. You should leave feeling better than when you came. One crucial difference, though, is that vocal warm-ups should not leave you feeling sore. A good exercise will have you feeling ready to sing anything!
1. Lip buzz
Vibrate your lips together without pitch at first. This will help build up your breath support and stamina while singing. Next, try adding a pitch to your lip buzz, and hold it anywhere from 3 to 5 seconds. Pitch can go up, down, or stay on one note. There should be a funny, tickling sensation in your nose and other resonators (the forehead, cheeks, etc.). If you do not feel this, try more.
A loose, gentle modulating hum is a nice way to ease in your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound. It gets your resonators going, which in turn will help restore your vocal tone quality after sleeping for several hours. Hum on a note, and slowly go up then down in pitch.
In this Time Magazine interview, Morgan Freeman reveals that yawning is part of the secret behind his very successful voice. “If you’re looking to improve the sound of your voice, yawn a lot,” he says. “It relaxes your throat muscles. It relaxes your vocal cords. And as soon as they relax, the tone drops. The lower your voice is, the better you sound.”
Yawning naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen, while extending your soft palate. Try yawning widely to stretch the jaw. Smile while you are yawning. Make a sighing sound for as long as you can.
4. Squeaky doors
This is an exercise that works to improve the coordination that is required to hold the correct cord closure. Start by making a sound that is a little edgy like a squeaking or creaky door. Using this sound, go through a scale whilst using as little air as possible, the point of the exercise is to not sound too breathy or forced.
5. Siren wailing
This is perhaps the easiest vocal exercise of all the vocal warm-ups on this list. Think of the sound of a fire engine passing by, and imitate it with your voice. Start at the lowest note in your range, and slide through every note to the top of your range. If you can sing the low notes and high notes, then you know you are in good vocal shape.
6. Tongue twisters
Articulate, articulate, articulate. Work on articulation with fun tongue twisters. Check this whole page out for some. Recite the tongue twister aloud, focusing on your breath and voice. Change the exercise by overenunciating the words, whispering, and speaking loudly.
Regular vocal warm-ups are paramount for actors to fully connect their voice and body. Use these exercises to get started. If you need more guidance and are ready to take your singing to the next level, look for voice training classes and workshops. If you’re ready to take the stage, look for the many opportunities waiting for you at Explore Talent!Basic Vocal Warm-Ups for Actors and Singers by Holly Bissonnette