Some Tips on Vocal Warm Ups
Having a strong and healthy voice is essential as an actor. Your voice is one of your strongest assets and it is absolutely trainable. You can improve your range, dynamic, volume, lung capacity, articulation and resonance. I have listed below a great vocal warm up to do either as part of your morning routine or before performing.
You don’t always have to do the full warm up and you can vary the warm up and interchange different exercises, but this is a great base. I have split the vocal warm up into four main sections: alignment and body work, breath support, resonance and freeing the sound and articulation. I have done this as each section leads naturally onto the next; each section is a useful warm up for what follows.
Alignment is very important for voice. If your body is aligned and grounded it means that the sound can be released without impingement. When you are aligned you are forced to let go of any personal habits and tensions which in turn helps free your voice.
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and a book under your head. The position is known as semi-supine and is fabulous for allowing your spine to completely rest. If you lie like this whilst warming up in can be very useful. Alternatively doing 10 mins a day will drastically improve your posture/alignment.
- Now come to standing, and imagine a helium balloon is attached to the top of your head. Lightly lifting you up.
- Stretching is great to free up the muscles and let go of tensions. Yoga is fantastic.
- Spinal Rolls: standing up roll down through the spine a vertebrae at a time, then roll back up again. Hum as you rise. (if you aren’t familiar with spinal rolls, do not try without having been shown the proper technique)
- Roll shoulders. Gently rolling your shoulders is a great way to release that all too common neck tension.
- Massage your jaw to release any tensions. Many of us hold a lot of tension in our Jaw. Massage the jaw muscles gently, feeling the release.
Tip: throughout all these exercises humming is a great gentle warm up you can do simultaneously.
- Fricatives: fricatives are unvoiced sounds like th, ff, sh, and ss. You can do these in all positions: supine, semi-supine, standing and some yoga positions.
- Sigh out on open vowel sounds: uh, ah, oh, oo, ee (adding an ‘h’ sound can really help)
- Counting as far as you can, then releasing and trying again. Repeat 3 times.
Resonance and freeing the voice
- Resonance scan: hum and feel the resonance in various spots around your body. Try to feel vibration on your head, throat, chest, back, crown and face.
- Lip Trills or horse lips: blow on a p or b sound through soft lips. You can go through your range like this also.
- Hum and yawn.
- Singing scales can also be great for increasing your range.
- Get your hands inside your mouth and massage the inside of your cheeks, your tongue and underneath your tongue. This hands on massage really helps to relieve tensions and frees the articulators.
- Protrude tongue for 30 seconds, then release.
- Try to speak d, g, p, t, k in the rhythm: bbbb, bb-bb-bb-bb, bbb-bbb-bbb-bbb.
- Check out other tongue twisters and exercises on our Articulation Exercises page.
Remember that doing something small on a regular basis is more beneficial than doing a big, comprehensive warm up every now and again. If you are suffering from a sore throat or any vocal issues, always warm up very carefully. For some tips on how to help a deal with a sore throat check out our natural sore throat remedy page.
An actor’s voice is so important. I hear all the time how crucial a good voice is for an actor to be successful. The voice is one of the most trainable elements of an actors skill set, therefore warmup as much as possible. Take singing lessons or voice lessons, work on your voice regularly, and really try to improve this invaluable asset you have as an actor.