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9 Best Vocal Warm Ups to Improve Your Singing

9 Best Vocal Warm Ups to Improve Your Singing
August 9, 2022
Singers are a kind of musical athlete. And what does every athlete need to do before a big performance? Warm up those muscles of course!

If you’re a singer, warming up your voice with vocal exercises is an essential part of making your performance the best it can sound, and also maintaining your own vocal health too. Once you know what exercises you can do, you can incorporate them into your current singing practice routine with very little time or effort involved!

9 vocal warm ups every singer can practice

So why should singers warm-up their vocals? What’s the big deal? Well..

- It improves the quality of your voice

- Reduces muscle and vocal tension

- Helps develop your vocal range in a safe way

- Reduces the chance of vocal strain or injury

- Improves articulation and pronunciation of lyrics<

Even if you're using the best vocal microphone or have the best studio sound, it's vital you still warm up properly to get the best out of your voice.

So whether you’re a rapper, soul artist, the lead singer of your band or something else - here’s the 10 best vocal warm-ups you can do to prep your vocals for an a-list performance.

1. Yawning techniques

The movement of yawning relieves tension in your face, relaxes your voice and helps improve its range.

By loosening up your jaw, throat, tongue and facial muscles, you’ll be much less likely to strain your voice. Plus the motion also increases the amount of oxygen to your brain, making you more alert and on your singing a-game.

How to practice this exercise:

- Open your jaw widley and inhale slowly, just as if you were naturally yawning. Keep your chin and shoulders relaxed.

- Exhale slowly as you close your mouth, bringing your lips together but your teeth apart.

- Once you’ve taken 2-3 breaths, you can try making a humming sound or pitch while you breathe out. Try extending the duration of this pitch or shifting the pitch up or down everytime you exhale.

2. Humming warm ups

Humming is one of the best all-round exercises, specifically for stretching your vocal chords without straining them.

It can also help to develop and improve your vocal resonance and tone quality, making your overall vocal performance a higher quality.

How to practice this exercise:

- Relax your body and face.

- Place the tip of your tongue behind the bottom of your front teeth and make a “hmmm” sound with your jaw open and lips closed.

- Hum notes up and down your range, increasing the intensity of the hum each time while keeping your mouth closed.

How does it work?

Well there’s a natural science to it. The vibrations produced by the humming sound actually relaxes your facial muscles and relieves tension that can affect your voice.

3. Lip buzzing

Lip buzzing, sometimes known as ‘lip trilling’, is a very easy, fun & effective way to get your diaphragm moving and improve your breathing control.

This technique involves creating a motorboat sound with your lips, making them vibrate rapidly.

How to practice this exercise:

- Make sure your lips and face are relaxed. Tight lips aren’t made for trilling!

- Press your lips together as if you were getting ready to pucker up, while at the same time using your fingers to push your cheeks upwards at the corner of your mouth.

- Breathe in through your nose and quickly out through your mouth to cause your lips to vibrate and produce a “brrr” sound.

Once you’ve got the hang of the initial technique, you can ramp it up to the next level by adding sound to your buzz by singing short and long notes while trilling - or if you’re feeling like a challenge - fully-fledged melodies.

4. Tongue trilling

This one’s similar to lip buzzing, but focuses on tongue movement instead.

It basically involves curling your tongue and rolling your “R’s” as you shift your range from low to high.

How to practice this exercise:

- Relax your tongue and place it behind the front of your top teeth.

- Take a breath in through your nose and then breath out through your mouth.

- As you breath out, roll your tongue so you’re making an “R” sound or mimicking the sound of a cat purr.

- Hold the sound as you warm up your vocals and strengthen your breathing, extending the duration of the rolling sound as you improve.

5. Jaw loosening techniques

A tight jaw is no friend to any singer.

In fact loosening your jaw releases jaw and mouth tension, helping you to pronounce your words and lyrics more clearly when singing.

9 Best Vocal Warm Ups to Improve Your Singing

How to practice this exercise:

- Drop your jaw to a level that feels comfortable but lower than when you’re just normally speaking - focussing specifically on the curved space between your jaw and your ear.

- Use your hands and fingers to massage this area in circular motions. This will stimulate blood flow to the region, loosening it up.

- Continue the massaging finger movement while lowering and raising your jaw

You might be surprised to know that your jawbone is actually one of the biggest contributing muscles to your vocal control. This means having more movement in your jaw will make singing more easy and comfortable.

6. Vocal sirens

Vocal sirening is another great method of stretching your vocals, by transitioning through different notes and ranges without cracking your voice.

Like a siren passing through every tone in and up and down scale, with this one you’ll mimic the rising and falling pattern using different vocal tones and “ooo” sounds.

How to practice this exercise:

- Practice making an “ooh” sound.

- Begin at the lowest note in your vocal range and gradually glide up to the highest note you can reach comfortably.

- Still holding the “ooh” sound, glide back down to the lowest note within comfortable reach.

- Repeat this process several times so you start to sound like an emergency vehicle on a 911 call!

Don’t do anything that doesn't feel comfortable. Extending your range beyond what feels controlled could end up causing strain and damage to your vocal chords. So listen to your body and work on improving your register over time, instead of right away.

7. Practice your breath

Getting your breathing right is an important part of giving your voice more power, control and expressive tone - the essential ingredients for a successful vocal performance!

Before unleashing your vocals on the live stage, practice this technique by both inhaling into your diaphragm and exhaling on a hiss.

9 Best Vocal Warm Ups to Improve Your Singing
How to practice this exercise:

- Maintain proper posture by standing up straight so you’re relaxing your body, shoulders and chest.

- Slowly breath in through your mouth for around five seconds. You should notice your belly expanding outward, controlling your breath as to not make your chest or shoulders rise.

- While you’re exhaling, begin to make a hiss-like “sss” sound, still keeping your chest and shoulders relaxed.

As you repeat this exercise multiple times, try inhaling and exhaling for longer durations to build more lung capacity and control.

8. Make vowel sounds

Creating vowel sounds with your voice can work to improve both your vocal clarity and articulation.


Well it makes sense that having an increased level of control over the shape of your mouth and tones of your voice, will naturally improve the quality of tone, pitch, vowel shape and breath control of your singing.

When you form vowel shapes with your face, such as “Ah, Eh, Ee, Oh, Ooh”, it’s essential you’re aware of the right lip, tongue and jaw position.

How to practice this exercise:

- Sing through the 5 vowel sounds all on the same pitch.

- Practice maintaining a consistent mouth shape to produce them naturally and clearly.

- Then start to move up a pitch a half step at a time by singing through the vowel sounds again.

- Repeat the exercise and the process by singing vowels up and down your vocal range, paying special attention to the shape your mouth makes and how each vowel opens or closes the muscles in your throat.

9. Tongue twisters

Everyone loves tongue twisters. They’re fun, challenging and they can do big things for improving your vocal articulation.

You never want to face a tongue-tied crisis when you’re on-stage performing. Reciting some tongue twisters right before your act will make sure you’re clearly pronouncing your words while you sing.

This is mainly because tongue twisters work by training your brain and mouth to handle transitions between different syllables.

How to practice this exercise:

- Recite a single phrase, saying it slowly at first.

- As you gain confidence, speed up the pace and recite the same phrase multiple times, getting quicker and quicker each time round.

- Try repeating the phrase at different pitches as you progress.

Some classic phrases you could play around with include:

- "She sells seashells by the seashore."

- "Sounds abound when the mouth is round."

- "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

- "A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym."

- "A proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot."

Sounds are articulated with your lips, tongue, teeth and jaw. So by reciting some different kinds of tongue twisters, you’ll naturally begin to stretch your muscles and reduce tension in your voice.

When to do vocal warm-ups

Just like singing and learning how to play an instrument requires regular practice, so too does training and warming up your voice.

You should aim to set aside at least 10 - 20 minutes everyday to practice these vocal techniques and tricks. Repetition and consistency are essential.

As you can probably guess, the best time to practice these vocal warm ups is right before you’re about to sing, either on stage or during a studio session.

Across all of these exercises, you should aim to start slowly and increase your intensity slowly as you improve. This will allow you to challenge yourself without risking damage to your vocal chords.

9 Best Vocal Warm Ups to Improve Your Singing

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