Whether you keep your singing in the shower or want to give Mariah Carey a run for her money, over the next few weeks I will be giving you some essential tips that will help you get the most from your voice. What better way to prepare for your Songmaker experience?!
This post is all about the importance of warming up and cooling down. I am a fellow singer such as yourself and I have dedicated years of time, trial and error and endless research into vocal development. Below I have listed a few exercises that I personally find really effective. I hope you find them as helpful as I do!
Your vocal cords are muscles not much thicker than your finger nail
This means they are delicate and need looking after! It is important to warm up and cool down before and after singing. You wouldn’t run a marathon without warming up first, right? Singing with cold cords is like blowing up a balloon without stretching it out first, only you put your voice at risk too. This results in reduced range, strain, lack of stamina and if continued it can lead to more severe health issues such as nodules (trust me, I learnt the hard way!)
Here are some ways to warm up:
Guideline time: 15 minutes
This completely depends on your ability to listen to your body and your voice. How long do you need to sing for? How demanding is it? What qualities do you need from your voice? Have you been ill recently? How long do YOU feel you need to warm up to get the best from your voice?
**Personally I like to take my time warming up during the day of a performance and then take 5 minutes to myself in the ladies room at the venue to prep my voice just before show time**
– Just keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’…
Lip rolls over a 5 note scale and sirens from low to high are great for stretching those cords out so they are ready for action. Just take a deep low breath (keep those shoulders relaxed!) and start from as low as you can comfortably go (remember it’s all about comfort and ease!) and slide up and back down repeatedly, gradually getting higher and higher (as high as you can go without straining, go on, squeak!)
– Hold the last part of the word sing – “ng”
Repeat the exercise above using this sound rather than lip rolls
– French “ons” pronounced like the O in the name Oli – only with a bit of nasality!
Sing this on a 5 note scale and sustain the top note and apply vibrato. This is a great way to add resonance and relax your voice into the note (and therefore developing that part of your range, woohoo!)
– “Nay” on an arpeggio (if done correctly this WILL sound naaasty!)
Start somewhere comfortable in your range and sing the arpeggios with good speed. This prevents your voice from straining with anticipation when going high! Pretend to be the most nasal, evil, annoying wicked witch you can be when doing this exercise. Put all the weight on the “n” as if you are using it to flick off the “ay”. This should help you get higher easier. As you go higher, do not increase volume, do not strain and do not raise your voice into a shout. Instead just get even witchier and engage with your lower abdominal muscles. Do not confuse this with pushing.
Great ways to cool down:
Guideline time: 5-10 minutes (just until you feel relaxed)
– Lip roll sirens low to high and back down again. Keep repeating and gradually decrease your range so you end up in a comfortable place – usually speaking level. To find your speaking level say “uh oh” as if you just did something wrong. Then just sing it 🙂
– Whimper like a dog
If people don’t already think you’re nuts this should do the trick! This exercise gently stretches out your vocal cords and relaxes them. It helps relieve any tension you may have built up and prevent health issues.
– Vocal fry (the noise the Grudge makes…unfamiliar? Pretend you are just lying your head down to go to sleep and you let out a low creeky yawn) This is super important because this noise is the result of your vocal cords vibrating at a VERY slow pace. After all that singing it’s the closest you will get to giving them a well-deserved massage! Use this exercise whenever, wherever you like, not just for cool downs. It’s awesome.
Future topics include:
– Vocal Health (How food, drink and everyday life can affect your voice and what you can do to combat it)
– Stage freight (How to develop your mind set and take control of your nerves)
– Finding your USP (What are your real strengths and how do they set you apart from others?)
If you would like to request a topic or have a question answered personally then don’t hesitate to leave a comment
If you found this blog helpful please share with your family and friends online!