But how long should vocal warmups be? It depends. Here are some guidelines I find helpful:
- If you've not been singing for a few days...
- If you've been singing full voice almost every day...
- If you've had swollen vocal cords from laryngitis or misuse
How do you tell? When it hurts AT ALL to make a vocal sound, stop. When you can hit all the notes in your range with no discomfort and your passagio (vocal register change) area is smoothed out, you are warmed up and can confidently apply full voice. Important... unless your voice does feel warmed up, don't sing full voice. Wait till the next day, then warmup and try again. If it still feels stressful to use your voice, you might try vocal rest for a few days and/or go to a good voice specialist ENT for an evaluation.
- If you are in-between sets on your gig...
Important... at the end of your practice or gig, warm down your voice as well.
This is just like a warmup but is shorter and more focused on head voice vocalizations to pump out interstitial fluid and relax your cords.
FYI... I have incredibly effective vocal warmups included in both my training courses, Power, Path and Performance, and Singing In The Studio.
Anybody out there with a warmup story?