What a good singing warm up is designed to do
What is a singing warm up? What does it do? It might seem an obvious question, but it’s important that you understand what your warm ups are designed to do, in order for you to make the transition from beginner, through to intermediate, through to advanced.
1. Improve your muscle coordination
First and foremost, your warm ups enable you to improve and coordinate your muscles. It’s just like training for dance or athletics. If you can’t coordinate your singing muscles, you’ll find yourself using tension or incorrect muscles, or too little or too much breath pressure.
When you are practising I want you to think about how you’re coordinating your muscles. Where are you not coordinated? Where is it breaking in the middle? Are you getting into the top stretch of the voice? Where are you off pitch? Are you lifting your chin to the ceiling?
2. Teach you how to tune into pitch
A good warm up practice teaches you how to tune into pitch. Learning how to listen to your inner ear is what warming up is about.
So what is pitch? Pitch is when you say, “I can’t hit the notes”. But where is the note? And where are you going to hit it? We don’t even realise that the language we use is telling us that we are seeing this from an outside-in perspective, when really it should be seen from an inside-out perspective.
You’re not going to find a really exceptional singer with a major pitch problem. Why? Because they know how to listen. They’ve been paying attention. They’ve been doing it consistently. They know what they’re aiming for and they’re developing their oral skill.
Your outer ear is the one that you’re trying to look up to see – looking for notes that live on the ceiling! But of course they don’t live on the ceiling, they’re only ever vibrating and resonating, and living in your own head. It’s just that when you get to hear the sound, it’s already bounced back off the walls around you. That’s the speed of sound in physics. You’re never listening to sound that you’re making. You’re only ever listening to sound that you have created. So let that one sink in as a bit of physics in action for you.
Close your eyes and hum a few notes. Can you hear the sound in your inner ear?
Watch the video for exercises you can use [it will start playing at 03:43] >>>>
3. Help you focus on the sound and the feel of your voice
You learn to sing by feel first, and then develop the understanding to back that up. As a singer you start to know where you feel different sounds. You grow to understand the movements, the feelings and sensations in your body. You’re doing that based on pitch, and feel, and balance. It’s a little like being on a bike: you just know which movements to make (and there’s no way of doing that unless you are actually on a bike). Your warm ups will help you get to a point where you can really feel your voice.
Your aim is to be able to use your voice as a tool – to understand the mechanism and the movement of that mechanism. If you warm up and practice in the right way, if you ever lose your voice, if you understand the mechanism and the movement of your voice, will understand how to get it back.
4. Help you focus and prepare mentally and physically
An effective warm up routine helps you to really get to know your voice, tune into it and focus on what you need to do to improve. It’s a space to remove all your negative thinking and prepare mentally for your practise session.
Your warm up should be working your breathing, working your posture, working your body. It’s bringing your voice into balance. You have to listen, feel and coordinate. That’s the whole point of warm up exercises. The process that you have to do is fall in love with it, so it becomes a joy not a chore. You want to get to a place where that whole thing starts to work into balance.
5. Improve your tone, range and stamina
Effective warms up will help to improve the quality of your tone, your stamina, your range and your strength – over time.
The problem is when you want that in a heartbeat, when you want it handed on a plate and when you want someone to wave a magic wand. This is a process, and there is no fast track to get you there. Regular practise, beginning with an effective warm up, is the foundation you need to build a strong singing voice.
Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.