Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vocal Warmups... How Long Should They Be?

Warming up your voice before any performance, or indeed before any significant vocal rehearsal or practice, is very wise, protective and enabling of good singing or speaking. In the same way you shouldn't do strenuous physical activity before doing muscle warmups and stretching, your vocal cords also need to be prepared, made flexible and coordinated for strong use with vocal exercises.

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... 
Warm up for 20-30 minutes, gradually stretching your range, re-remembering your 'pull path' muscle memory of applying power to expand your chest and throat. I like to start with bubbles, do some of my exercises and then end with sirens.
  • If you've been singing full voice almost every day... 
A 10 minute vocal warm up may do just fine to get you limbered up for full voice singing. The most important thing is that you do them... it will make a difference and will protect your voice from strain.
  • If you've had swollen vocal cords from laryngitis or misuse
Start with some easy vocal exercises in the middle of your range, then continue to warmup until either you start feeling vocal stressing or you feel warmed up. You may need to warm up very gradually to pump interstitial fluid out of your vocal cords, for an average of 20 or 30 minutes or even longer.

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...
Rest your voice (especially limit talking), drink some water and then warmup for 5 or 10 minutes before your next set to pump any vocal cord swelling down.

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?

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  • At May 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM , Anonymous Miguel said...

    One of our female vocalists used to go in the bathroom before practice and give out a big yell before starting our sessions. She said it was effective, but I have never tried it. I do know that warm ups are very important because I notice that if I do not, then my voice doesn't "fall into place" until about the 5th or 6th song.

    Also, I noticed that I can sing a lot better than I used to and want to take lessons, but can't afford it. People who I know are objective have noticed that I sing better.

  • At May 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Cool Miguel. As to training... there are ways to do it economically when you're ready. Thx for the comment!


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