How To Sing Better Using Vocal Warm Ups, Singing Tips and Exercises
It is a common misconception that to be a good singer you must be born with a great voice. Many believe that training might help a good singer become great, but no one else should bother with it. While it is true that natural talent is an incredibly valuable asset it is not always required. Some people are born great at math and go on to become the next Isaac Newton but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t benefit from a proficiency in math. Don’t forget that Albert Einstein was terrible at math when compared to the great mathematicians of his day so raw talent is not necessarily required to make someone great at what they do. Singing is a skill that can be learned just like any other musical instrument.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while a student may want to become great over time, they should focus on how to sing better in the short term. This is an incremental shift as opposed to a great leap and can prevent burn out or even injury. Instead of trying to sound like your favorite singer immediately, focus on what might appear to be simple, unrelated singing exercises or vocal warm ups that over time will get you ready to tackle a harder vocal challenge. No violin player sounds like Paganini their first week, or month, or decade so remember to grow incrementally every day.
Vocal Warm Ups
Vocal warm ups are boring and at best can be described as silly looking and sounding. They are also absolutely required if a student wants to progress as a singer. The greatest athletes in the world would never dream of stepping on a practice field without first stretching out and becoming both physically and mentally prepared for what they are about to do. This is a process that will become natural over time but in the short term may be a struggle. Vocal warm ups can:
- Increase a singer’s vocal range
- Allow movement between chest and head voice
- Develop a falsetto
- Increase clarity and endurance
Let’s watch Celine Dion warm up:
Sound silly? That’s because it is, and it also works.
Clearly warm ups are a huge help as you strive to become a better singer. These exercises also go a long way to prevent injury while practicing. If you’ve ever gone to a concert and spent hours screaming like a crazy person you probably found that your voice became raspy fairly quickly. This type of untrained, uncontrolled use of the voice causes injury and can lead to serious issues. Please always warm up and be careful.
Although there is no replacement for professional training programs, there are a few tips that can get you started. Don’t expect these tips along to make you a winner on stage but for a beginner they can make a substantial difference.
- Always warm up. Although we talked about this in the section above it is worth repeating. Think of yourself as an athlete and stretch out your vocal muscles. Many experienced singers will warm up for around 15 minutes before serious practice or performance. Beginners may need to take things a bit slower and spend more time warming up. Time spent here will make your voice sound clearer, your vocal range be easier to meet, and help you sing for longer periods of time without resting.
- Have confidence. Confidence brings with it many advantages. You will find that your voice is projecting out stronger a further. Notes will be held longer and easier and have a new clarity to them. Early in a singers training this is difficult. Confidence comes in time but the phrase, “fake it till you make it” can apply here. This means sounding as well as looking confident. Stand up straight and tall when you perform during practice. This will help both physically and psychologically.
- Use your mouth. Your voice is an instrument like any other. Your body is a resonance chamber and your mouth is the focal point where the sound comes out. Imagine a saxophone with a tiny bell or a violin without holes. You want a wide round exit for the music you are going to make so open your mouth when you sing. If you think you already do check it out, you will be surprised.
- Dairy is your enemy. Ice cream, milk, cheese and other milk products causes your body to produce more phlegm than you normally would. This isn’t a big deal until you are singing your heart out and end up in a coughing fit. Phlegm can cause your voice to crack even if you don’t cough uncontrollably so simply stay clear of dairy before practicing or performing.
Here are few singing exercises to get you started. A more complete course is coming soon!