Singing Practise Tips

When & Why Do I Have To Warm Up My Voice?

Just like any other part of your body, the vocal apparatus needs a gentle warm up before a lesson, practice session or performance. These sessions can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes depending on the singers level of training, experience and potential activity. A teacher will usually provide students with a set of warm up exercises which students will be expected to do prior to their lessons and practicing at home. Warming up the voice in the car on the way to a lesson or a live performance is pretty common practice for many singers as it is so easy to do once you know a few basic warm up exercises! There are plenty of general scales and exercises available online that are suitable for warming up the voice plus vocal warm up books listed on this page suitable for students, teachers, groups, choirs and choral directors.

Why do I need to practise scales?

A singer is like an athlete who gradually trains their body until it reaches the peak of its operating ability. Like any other muscle in body, the vocal chords need to be warmed up with exercises before asking them to perform. Although you may have been singing since you were small, it is important that you learn to sing in a healthy manner that builds up the muscles slowly and prevents damage to the voice.

The vocal chords (also known as vocal folds) are small thin muscles that vibrate when air passes through them. The vibration ranges from fast to slow and the more ‘elastic’ they become, the easier it is for the notes to be produced. The singer learns how to control their breathing and uses vocal exercises, scales and vocalise which help to develop flexibility in the vocal chords.

How long should I practise for?

That depends on the level of experience and amount of training that the singer has. For a complete beginner no more than 20 minutes a day including warm up, rests, vocalisation and cool down. The amount of practise time should be gradually increased over a period of months according to your singing teachers instructions.

Advanced singers can practise for a lot longer with practice sessions broken down into 15 – 20 minute slots of warm up, vocalisation, rest, repertoire, rest, advanced repertoire and cool down.

I’ve heard you can practise for hours?

It is not advisable to sing for long periods of time without a lot of training! You would not expect to run a marathon without training slowly and regularly over a long period of time. The vocal mechanism is like any other group of muscles and requires the same type of gradual development. It should also be noted that even professional singers use their practice periods to do other types of training! As well as vocalising, a singer should use their rehearsals to learn lyrics, learn music, study techniques, observe recorded performances and utilise their time between singing rather than sing continuously for long periods of time which may strain their precious voices!

Do you have any tips?

  • Never sing or vocalise if you are ill or suffering with a sore throat. If your voice starts to feel hoarse or sore during your practise session STOP singing immediately and completely rest the voice. When your voice has fully recuperated, review your vocal technique, start with gentle humming and cut down the length of practise time until you can consult your teacher. If the problem persists, do not sing – visit your doctor.
  • Vocal strain can be caused by speaking, whispering or yelling too much or by trying to ‘over reach’ the voice.
  • Eat a light meal at least 2 – 3 hours before you start, allow plenty of time for the food to digest.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol or acidic drinks like orange before you sing as these can cause drying or excess phlegm in some people. Drink between 8 – 9 pints water a day and keep a supply of water to hand during your practise period.
  • Limber up the body by using gentle exercises first.
  • Warm up the voice with a few scales or other vocal exercises throughout your range to help slowly develop the muscles.
  • Take a break, drink some water and rest the voice completely.
  • Choose an easy song to start your repertoire practise and gradually increase the difficulty. Click Here to practice to songs online.
  • Take another break, more water & rest the voice before working on the most demanding songs
  • Repeat the vocalisation exercises to cool down.
  • Repeat the relaxation exercises and spend five minutes relaxing completely to end the practise session.
  • In all cases the practise sessions need to be modified if you have a performance and at least one day a week should be spent resting the voice – NO Singing!

Further reading:

Vocal Warm Up Books

The following are a small selection from the collection from the Vocal Warm Up Book Section part of our Books for Singers which includes eductional, instructional, repertoire, diction, language and marketing books for singers and musicians.

The Practice of Practice: How to Boost Your Music Skills
Talent means nothing when it comes to getting better. Practice is everything. But exactly what is good practice? How does good practice create talent? And what in the world does a pinwheel have to do with practice? The focus of this book is music practice, but these techniques and mindsets can be applied to any skill you want to improve. This book covers essential practice strategies and mindsets you won’t find in any other book. You’ll learn the What, Why, When, Where, Who, and especially the How of great music practice. You’ll learn what research tells us about practice, but more importantly, you’ll learn how great musicians in many genres of music think about practice, and you’ll learn the strategies and techniques they use to improve. This book will help you get better faster, whether you play rock, Bach, or any other kind of music. Whatever instrument you want to play, The Practice of Practice will help you get the most out of your practice. This book will help you become more savvy about getting better. It will also help you be a more informed teacher or a more effective parent of a young learner. Don’t practice longer, practice smarter. The book covers 6 aspects of practice: What: Definitions, and what music practice does to your brain. Why: Motivation is crucial. Learn ways of keeping the flame lit in this section. Who: A lot of people including yourself will impact your practice. Learn to use them to your advantage. When: This section covers how much, and what times of the day are best for practice. Also covers the development of practice over time. Where: Where you practice affects how well you practice. Learn to harness the place of your practice. How: The longest section of the book includes information about goals, structuring your practice, as well as specific techniques tested by researchers, and specific strategies pros use to get better. Get better faster. Don’t practice longer, practice smarter.
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Vocalize! Book/CD (SheetMusicPlus)
45 Accompanied Vocal Warm-Ups That Teach Technique. Each exercise in this invaluable resource is designed to reinforce fundamental vocal concepts for choral and solo singers of any age. Organized in 11 focused categories, the purpose of every warm-up is evident, and clearly-stated directions optimize growth. Supportive piano accompaniments, including progressive modulations, are lightly-orchestrated on the enclosed recording—perfect for ensemble rehearsals, studio lessons, or at-home practice. As an added bonus, PDF files on the enhanced CD provide extracted vocal lines on reproducible singer pages. An instructional book you will use again and again! Topics include: beginning warm-ups, posture, vowels, breath support, tone quality, diction, dynamics, articulations, diphthongs, blend, scales, intervals, harmony, and more. The comb binding creates a lay-flat book that is perfect for study and performance.

Notecracker Vocal Warm-Ups
These pocket-sized swatch-packs are great for quick reference at home or on the go. Each Notecracker contains 70 handy reference cards, printed on both sides for quick access to chord diagrams, general music theory, jokes, quotes and snippets of musical trivia. Notecracker Vocal Warm-Ups is a selection of easy Vocal warm-ups, for all Voices.
Read more at SheetMusicPlus

Quick and Easy Vocal Workouts From Head to Toe For Children (SheetMusicPlus)
Fun vocal warmups and workouts for children. Songs warm up the parts of the body used in singing – the head, neck, mouth, arms, diaphragm, legs, feet, etc. Includes melody line and piano accompaniment.

Sing! Vocal Warm-ups For All Styles (Book/Audio Download)
Sing! is a complete programme of effective and efficient Vocal Warm-ups suitable for all styles of singing. Also featuring a download card that gives you access to online audio and spoken instructions so that your voice will be in the best shape possible for any performance. Written by an accomplished, world-class vocal coach with around 30 years experience working with singers in a multitude of genres and styles, Sing! Vocal Warm-ups will explain the science behind the intricacies of the human voice while providing you with 39 exercises to help you warm up your voice as effectively as possible, reducing the risk of frustrating strain or injury. Whether you’re a smooth jazz singer, a powerful rock belter or a folk crooner, this book will allow you to refine various vocal techniques, encouraging you to learn how to protect your voice and prepare it for making the best possible performance. The convenient book will take you through different regimes, getting you to sing well, low, supported, long, freely and clearly, with each one focusing on a different aspect of your voice and your singing technique. You can use the exercises to plan your own warm-up routine, or just work your way though. Using the audio examples provided on the practical and useful download card, you will be encouraged to participate as you might in a live warm-up session. The spoken instructions will guide you through, while you’ll be able to sing along to the music or just familiarise yourself with each exercise before you try it out for yourself. The logical layout and authoritative exercises make Sing! an essential tool for singers of any style to learn how to properly warm-up.
Read More at SheetMusicPlus

Vocal Warm-Ups Book & CD (SheetMusicPlus)
Singing requires putting the rest of your busy life aside and focusing on both the physical and creative components of making art through sound. Just like athletes, musicians must warm up to be limber, relaxed and ready to perform, and to prevent strain or injury. These 25 warm-ups are designed to take your voice and body from their everyday habits and routines and to focus and prepare them to sing well. The exercises begin with broad, large-muscle relaxation techniques and breathing work, and move on to a gradual, relaxed warm-up of your voice and strengthening of your vocal skills. The CD contains demos for listening and separate backing tracks so you can sing along. Three songs are also included for practice.