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Best Vocal Warm Ups that Work Wonders


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

January 23, 2007

Comments (14)

How can you get your voice moving early in the morning? Read our run-down of the best vocal warm-ups that work wonders in the morning - or any time of day for matter.

Coming from a classical singing background and years of 7 a.m. choir rehearsals, I find it really helps if you are up at least one hour before you are expected to perform.

Vocal warm upsIf you've ever had a recording session early in the morning (many of you who are on-air talent will identify with this), you've really got to warm up those pipes to sound professional and alert.

If you're awake 60 minutes before you hit the mic, you'll be alert (hopefully!) and also may have already spoken to someone, using your voice a wee bit to prepare for your warm up. During that interval, you may have possibly eaten breakfast, had a drink, showered, and dressed for the day.

Waking up earlier for an 'early' session does more than stabilize your vocal folds, it gets you in form mentally as well.

OK, so that's getting up an hour before. How about these ones?

Have you ever tried humming?

A loose, gentle modulating hum is a nice way to ease in your facial muscles as well as 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.

One of the favorites at the Don Wright Faculty of Music was The Hum closely followed by lip trills.

On one occasion, a classmate of mine had to run from her residence at the main gates on Richmond Street over the bridge at UWO (if you're from London, you know what I'm talking about) doing lip trills in the dead of winter as she scrambled to get to her lesson in the Music Building near Talbot College. She sounded great! Now, that's a feat.

Also, another good trick to open up the passages is to descend on a nasal consonant sound. If you are a fan or student of IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet), you know that there are a number of ways you can warm up your sinuses and nasal passages.

Take the English word onion for example. It's quite nasal, particularly the second syllable. The gn sound, as in the Italian gnocchi is precisely what I'm thinking about.

Take that 'gn' sound and lovingly stretch it, slide it, and descend glissando style. Go from the fifth down to the root of a scale on that with an 'ah' sound.

Another fave is anything that ends in a Z, like buzz or fuzz. Linger on the Z to get resonating as well.

If there was an audio component here in this post, I'd demonstrate, but that's for another day :)

Back to some more ideas.

Articulate, articulate, articulate. In your business, this is one of the most important aspects of your performance. If you don't articulate or enunciate clearly, no one is going to understand a word of what you are saying.

Here are five tongue twisters that are old hat for some but may be new to your repertory:

1. Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York.... (repeat and speed up as necessary)
2. A big black bug bit a big black bear
3. She sells sea shells by the sea shore
4. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
5. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

One trick to see if your diction is clear is to ask someone who doesn't know you to listen to you speak. If they have trouble deciphering your message, it's time to go back to the drawing board and really start spitting out those consonants.

Well, that may be good for resonators and articulators, but what about range?

Yawning is a good thing. Yawning naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate. With more oxygen flowing up to your brain, you'll also find that you are more alert. Yawning is one of those involuntary responses produced by your autonomic nerve system.

Have you ever heard of the 'yawn-sigh'?

You open your mouth as if to yawn and slide all the way down from the top of your vocal range to the lowest grumble you can muster. You'll know when you bottom out. Only do this a few times tops per warm up and never start with this one - leave it until the end when you have already exercised your voice.

Now, those are just a number of things you can do to get going with your voice.

It may go without saying, but a good sleep the night before, about eight hours if you can swing it, and a well conditioned, lubricated voice is the best preparation for warming up at the crack of dawn.

If you're a multi-tasker, you could probably fit your warm ups into your morning shower routine. The acoustics will be great and warm water is also a plus.

Just so that we're all aware, these warm ups are not solely reserved for early risers but for any vocal activity at any time.

Do you have any warm ups to add? What works for you?



Disclaimer: The sillier you sound and the better a warm up makes you feel, the more elastic, agile and comfortable your voice will become. Have fun with it!

Related Topics: dictionary, New York, Warm Ups


    Yes... I believe that all of these tips and suggestions have been good.

    I have been singing since I was 6 years old and I am now 17. It has really hard for me because I have a really beautiful voice but sometimes under pressure it's hard to let out and I have been suffering from this for years and I really need help!


    Posted by:
    • Mesha
    • June 20, 2007 1:30 PM

      I remember something about a cork... Hold on...

      Okay, found it. Here are some good warm-ups to add to the list!


      Posted by:
      • Newcomer
      • June 30, 2007 2:59 PM

        It's better to do your warm up exercises lying on the ground and bending your knees.

        If you hold your hand on your lower stomach you will be able to see if you are singing from the correct place.

        Posted by:
        • Maura
        • October 9, 2007 4:08 PM

          I'm 14 and recently discovered my passion for music and singing. I just started taking singing lessons and my next one is next week. I don't have that great of a voice and I want to make singing my career I want to go to Juilliard for college but I need to improve. I will improve but I wanted to know if you guys had any tips for me. Thank you I would greatly appreciate your comments and advice.

          Posted by:
          • Gabe
          • April 18, 2009 7:04 PM

            i go to a performing art school in Santa Ana called OCHSA and we've learned all these tips in singing class. They are especially helpful when i have to do a song in my first class.

            Posted by:
            • zayne
            • June 4, 2010 8:05 PM

              Great tips, Stephanie!
              Any athlete knows that stretches and warm-ups are essential to peak performance. Voice over might not be considered a sport but it definitely gives everything above the waist a workout. We have to warm up if we want to deliver our best.

              Posted by:

                Awesome information Stephanie. I also want to add that when your mouth is starting to feel dry, an apple usually helps me out and corrects the issue pretty quickly.

                All the best,


                Posted by:

                  Coffee and a decongestant.

                  Posted by:
                  • Vinnie Vinson
                  • December 1, 2011 2:29 PM

                    Cup of tea

                    Posted by:
                    • Martin ONeill
                    • December 1, 2011 2:29 PM

                      Pudda Dugga Gudda! X10

                      Posted by:
                      • Danny Danielson
                      • December 1, 2011 2:30 PM

                        I'm having this problem right now. Got to get into the studio and I sound like a frog!

                        Posted by:
                        • Zeke Elizondo
                        • December 1, 2011 2:30 PM

                          This is good. I've been doing research and this is the most thorough response to the question. Thanks Steph

                          Posted by:
                          • Justine
                          • July 24, 2012 12:53 PM

                            Before doing any or all of these wonderful exercises you should actually do a physical warm up first. A little cardio followed by light stretching (especially of the neck) will prepare and loosen both the abdominal support muscles and the neck/laryngeal structure.

                            Posted by:
                            • Ryan
                            • September 2, 2012 10:09 AM

                              The best exercise I know of, which revolutionized my voice is called the "Lip Roll" or "Lip Trill".
                              All you do is basically act like a baby and go "bbbbvvvvv" with enough air power to make your lips vibrate.

                              What this does is firstly relaxed your larynx(swallowing muscle) and teaches your voice to use the right technique while singing. The lyranx muscle is like just under your chin connected to your neck.
                              A new thing I starting doing is actually to massage my larynx, 'cause when you sing you should be so relaxed as if you just had a professional massage(STAY AWAKE OFCOURSE!!!)

                              Posted by:
                              • LionBlood
                              • May 11, 2013 2:58 PM

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