April 2015

Techniques: Vocal Warmups

Caring for your vocal cords as muscles with a set of vowel- and technique-oriented warmups.

National Standards: 5

Prepare: Have the class read Techniques: Vocal Warmups (page 23 of the student edition). The article outlines six vocal warmups that include lip-buzzing, humming, and vowel techniques to better prepare student voices for practice or performance.

NotionappClick here to download the files for audio playback on the Notion app.

Key points in the article:

  • Your vocal cords are a muscle. Just like instrumentalists play scales and exercises to warm up, there are a variety of warmups you can use as a vocalist to relax your vocal cords for singing.
  • Examples 1 and 2 share exercises on trilling with the lips and tongue. The key is to perform these exercises gently to relax your face. Never force notes and stop if you feel tension.
  • The humming and siren techniques used in examples 3 and 4 together improve pitch and reduce tension through simple positioning of the lips, mouth, and jaw.
  • Examples 5, and 6 use vowel sounds arppeggiated/triad patterns that help to improve range, tone quality, and breathing control.

Begin: Try some of the techniques with the class, noting the tips described in each example. Lessons might include:

  • The importance of warming up the voice as you would your body in sports, through gentle repetition.
  • How these techniques can help achieve this, and improve other vocal qualities like tone, pitch, and range.
  • How using certain vowel sounds stretch and prepare the voice for further practice and performance (Ex. 5 stretches vocal cords, Ex. 6 uses your diaphragm to control airflow)

Develop: Play the following video lesson for the class, while asking them to keep the examples and points from the article in mind:

How does Arceneaux’s tips relate to those from the article?

  • Stretching the mouth and jaw
  • Using vowel sounds
  • Avoid sounding nasally

Expand: Share this video with the class on an additional vocal technique not covered in the examples: