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Vocal Fundamentals Week 3: Vocal Warmups

Today, we're talking about our next vocal fundamental: VOCAL WARMUPS


If you've taken vocal coaching with me, been on a vocal team with me, or have been following me on social media at all, you know I talk about vocal warmups a lot.


And for good reason.


Quick Story Time.


I used to launch into leading a Sunday morning church service or a Friday night coffee shop gig without even thinking about warming up my voice. Warmups just weren't on my radar, and my voice seemed to do fine with the small amount of singing I did in rehearsal or sound check before the service or performance, so I didn't think much about it.


Until one day, as I was speaking in a meeting, it occurred to me that my voice had been feeling tired for a few weeks. And I couldn't seem to get the same power and tone behind some of my notes that I was used to.


I made an appointment with my ENT that week, and he diagnosed me with vocal cord paresis in my left vocal cord. This is partial paralysis of the vocal cords.


Talk about a wake up call!!


Thankfully, it was a temporary condition, and overtime with voice therapy and the right techniques put in place, my vocal cord was able to heal.


But one of the most important things I had to start doing once I was able to start singing regularly again was making sure I had an effective vocal warmup routine to use before I sang, every. single. time. This gave my voice the on ramp it needed to go from complete silence or even just speaking to singing high, low, and everywhere in between.


An effective vocal warmup is one of the most basic and most powerful tools in your vocal toolkit. Nearly all additional vocal skills and tools can be developed, grown, expanded, and dialed in on the back of the right vocal warmup.


In fact, if you can only focus and commit to ONE THING over the next few months to improve your voice, vocal warmups is what I'd suggest.


And here's why:


An effective vocal warmup not only allows your voice to warmup, but it helps to coordinate your breathing, can be used to stretch your range, teaches you vocal control, and helps you get to know your own voice, among other things.


Never used a vocal warmup before? Not even sure what exercises to do?


I've got you.


I start all of my vocal coaching clients with the humble "hum". If you know how to do scales, start your warmup by humming single notes up and down the scale.


If you're not sure what a scale is, no worries! Just start singing single notes on a hum in an EASY part of your vocal range. Then go higher with your notes, and then go lower with your notes.


This is a great way to introduce yourself to vocal warmups, and to start getting used to using your voice this way. Plus, it doesn't take much time. You can do 5 minutes of humming in the shower, while you get dressed or make breakfast, or on your drive to work. Just remember to go EASY at first.


Your assignment this week: do a 5 minute vocal warmup using "humms" every day for the next 7 days.


Once you feel comfortable with singing hums and want more warmup exercises to try, you can check out my Super Quick Vocal Warmup.


Another thing that is so useful about vocal warmups is that there are certain warmup exercises you can do to tackle specific and unique vocal challenges you are having. Here are some examples:


  1. VOCAL SLIDES These are GREAT for dealing with phlegm and gunk on your vocal cords or if you're finding yourself constantly clearing your throat. Side note - try to STOP clearing your throat. It's so hard on your voice. Worship Leaders, this is an excellent exercise to use for those early Sunday morning warmups.

  2. VOCAL FRY While this one should be used very sparingly, it can be a relaxing vocal exercise. If you're feeling or hearing a lot of tension, strain, or thinness in your vocal sound, this exercise is one that, when done correctly, may benefit you. *We'll talk more about vocal fry in week 8 of this Vocal Fundamentals series.

  3. SINGING A, E, I, O, U This exercise is helpful in loosening up tight singing muscles. Your tongue, jaw, and other facial muscles can benefit from singing the vowels either on scales or single notes.


These are just a few of the many great vocal warmup exercises out there!


So, again, your assignment this week is to do 5 minutes of a hum warmup every day. Pay attention to how your voice feels and sounds before, during, and after you warmup. And let me know if you're having any trouble with this exercise. I'm here to help, and I don't want you to go one more day feeling like you can't put your best voice forward!


Next week, we'll talk about one of my favorite vocal exercises, LIP TRILLS! These are so fun and are challenging for a lot of people, but they are oh so effective.


Until then, I hope your week is a great one. Talk soon!

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