September 01, 2021
Every musician worth their salt knows how to take care of their instrument. Guitar players know how to change and care for strings. Trumpeters know how to clean their horn. And pianists know when to wipe the keys and call a tuner.
Some vocalists may not think of the voice as an instrument, but it most definitely is, and it needs care like any other instrument. Number one on the list of things to do to keep your voice healthy for a long time are warm-ups. Sadly, many vocalists neglect this – especially in rock and pop. But vocal warm-ups aren’t just for opera stars. They’re for rock belters, heavy metal screamers, rappers, poets, actors, even voiceover artists. We’ll look at a few of the benefits of vocal warm-ups, especially for singers.
Singing involves a variety of muscles, and like any other muscular activity – dance, running, basketball, ice hockey – those muscles need proper preparation before working hard, as well as proper ongoing training. For this reason, vocal warm-ups and drills are important daily activities for singers.
Warm-up drills before a rehearsal or performance stretch vocal folds, warm up the larynx, diaphragm, and other breathing related muscles, and help the body relax and let go of tension. Doing warm-up drills regularly helps train those muscles and to give them strength, elasticity, and endurance. This means a wider range on stage and less chance of injury or losing your voice.
Obviously singing songs improves singing. But no song challenges the voice in every way, and most singers gravitate toward material they’re already well able to sing. Warm-ups not only prepare you for the work of practice, they also serve as skill builders, letting you improve in areas your current song repertoire might gloss over.
Over time, training with well-designed warm-up drills can increase your vocal range, giving you more song options and creative freedom.
After only a short time of regularly doing drills, you’ll start to feel the difference in your vocal strength, and this will increase confidence. By the same token, a solid pre-show warm up routine works wonders for stage fright, because it provides a predictable ritual in an otherwise chaotic space. Not to mention the confidence of knowing you’re not going to blow your voice out on stage.
Vocal drilling also gives you a chance to tune your ears and pitch control. This kind of solid pitching is often what sets the pros apart, especially when things get difficult on stage.
Finally, warming up before rehearsals and shows and regularly training your voice will increase your longevity. In fact, vocalists who train properly can look forward to a solid singing career perhaps for their entire life.
Anyone who’s had to cancel a month’s worth of shows or go in go in for vocal surgery knows the downside of not warming up. On the other hand, there’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a six-month tour of daily shows and feeling fresh and ready for anything. The difference is as simple as a few minutes a day keeping the chops in shape.
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5