Isn’t it strange how on certain days your voice works and on others it doesn’t? On the latter days it usually leads singers to warm up for hours on end and provided that hasn’t worked a singer may convince themselves that its because they are getting sick that their voice is just ‘not happening.’ Usually this theory is accompanied by a ‘hot and toasty’ feeling in the throat and in part is due to the length of the warm up. What a singer has actually done is that they’ve warmed their voice up to wear it out AND they haven’t even began their performance yet. I always feel that in this situation the end scenario is going to be a disheartening one for the singer as they get on stage feeling anxious about their voice.
Overall, I feel this issue of the voice working well on some days and not on others has tended to make singers feel insecure about the reliability of their voice and incredibly frustrated. So… I want to scratch the surface of this issue and address whats really going on and dispell a few myths about the warm up and give some effective solutions!
Let’s ascertain one thing; the body is the singers instrument AND singing is muscular. Usually what goes hand in hand with those days that a singers voice is “not happening” is that they are tired, run down and possibly it may even be that “time of the month” (if they are a female). In a nutshell; the body is lethargic and if this is the case, the muscles will be slow to respond hence the voice will have difficulty ‘waking up.’ On the flipside, have you ever noticed how it is so much easier to sing when you are feeling happy, enthusiastic or physically energised? Or perhaps you have noticed that your voice sounds better later on in the day/evening- say compared to first thing in the morning? Many students complain to me that they can’t sing in the morning. Well I’d like to say that it needn’t be that way- that we can get our voices in the same mint condition they are in at night, as in the morning- or at ANY time (provided we’re in good vocal health). All we need to do is get the body feeling awake and invigorated and this is something we especially need to give ALOT MORE attention to when we’re NOT feeling energised.
As singing is muscular, then in conjunction with specific vocal exercises (that should not be overdone- remember the ole ; ‘warming -the -voice- up -to -wear -it -out’ scenario) our warm up must include something that warms the body up, or more specifically: WAKES the body up.
Some very effective body exercises, (which will wake the body up quickly) are listed below;
- Jump up and down on the spot for 2 minutes.
- Go for a 5 minute run.
- Do some silent shouting (keeping the vocal folds open so as to prevent constriction). Make sure to get your whole body in on the act, (so best to stand) -just as you do when you are shouting. Wave your hands in the air and think of winning the lotto and shouting out “YAY!!!” or alternatively pretend you are calling out to a loved one who is across the street who you haven’t seen in a long time.
- Another great body warm up I learnt (which is very effective to do with a whole band to get everyone psyched up before a show) is to vigorously shake the right arm for a count of 8 (count out aloud), then the left arm, then the right leg, then the left leg. Do this again but half this number to 4- starting with the right arm again and following the same sequence as before. The next time through halve the number to 2 and do as before and then halve the number again (1). Once you’ve finished this then jump up and shout “Yeah!!”.
Some of these suggestions may sound strange but it will make a big difference to the length of time it takes to warm your voice up. I would encourage you to try incorporating into your daily vocal warm up routine something that will also wake the body up and notice how much less time it takes to get the voice working.