My thoughts...Wisdom from over the years

Warm-up VS Work-out Part 1

Posted in: Blog, tip of the week ♦ Monday, October 15th, 2012, 10:26 am ♦ No Comments on Warm-up VS Work-out Part 1


Anybody out there ever work out? I do. Although I don’t particularly enjoy the working out process, once I get going I’m usually okay. Why do I work out? You know the answer already, but I’ll tell you just the same: I want to stay in shape! In fact there have times in my life when I needed to get in shape, or get back into shape.  Working out was the only way to get there.

As anyone who works out regularly knows, it’s important to warm-up before getting into a vigorous work-out. Why? It helps to prime the muscles for optimum performance and to avoid injury. We can apply the same concept to a vocal warm-up and work-out.

Your vocal cords are essentially muscles. When we remember this and treat them as such, we do better in terms of taking the proper care of them. It’s important to take the time to warm up the vocal cords each and every time you sing. By gently stretching and working the muscles, we can get the peak performance out of them. This includes a better range, agility, control, better intonation and less vocal stress.  Even a little warm-up can go a long way, but the more you warm up, the better your cords will function for you.


Your warm-up routine should start with the essential “relax and loosen up” moves.  I always suggest that students do any vocalizing, including warming-up, in front of a mirror. In the same way that a vocal coach can give you instant feedback, a mirror can act as your coach in the absence of a real one.

First of all, always check your posture. You can start by raising your arms far over head and reaching as far as you can. Get the feeling of your ribcage being lifted off the diaphragm. As you bring your arms down to your sides, keep the rib cage high but relax your shoulders. This is important for maintaining proper breath control. When the rib cage sets on top of the diaphragm, movement is limited.

Make sure that every possible muscle in your face, neck and shoulders is completely relaxed. Roll your shoulders forward and back. Drop your head gently forward and roll from left to right. Place your hands on your cheeks and move them around until there’s no tension anywhere. Blow air through your “loose” lips like a horse and make sure your lips are relaxed. Take a few deep breaths and slowly let them out. Remember to always breathe in through your nose whenever possible. This will warm, moisten and clean the air that flows over your vocal cords. Once you are tension free you are ready to start the vocal part of your warm-up.


Start slowly when warming up the vocal cords. This is important because anything stressful to the cords, i.e. too much too quickly, can cause an abrasion to the cords. This  will most likely result in phlegm settling on the cords. Phlegm’s job is to act like a band-aid to cover, coat and protect the cords until they heal. If you find that you often have phlegm after singing awhile this very well could be the reason.

I like to suggest starting with a hum. Now if you’re getting ready for church on a Sunday morning the bathroom is the perfect place to warm-up! You have a mirror and it’s usually nice and steamy in there (especially after a shower!). Start by gently humming a five note scale downward. Always use caution to not go too high or too low when first warming up.  After a couple of minutes of gentle humming, try some gentle kicks from the diaphragm—still on a hum—on a five note scale up and back down. You may progress a little farther into your range with this exercise. As you do this, watch your posture in the mirror and make sure you are still relaxed and using the proper muscles allocated for breathing.

You can continue on from here to include your favorite warm-up exercises as long as you don’t stretch too far too fast. Once you’ve spent 10-15min warming up you can then move to the work-out phase. … next week


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