Vocal Warm Ups

(from: http://vocalist.org.uk/singing_exercises.html)

The key to a good rehearsal is to ensure that you achieve the following before starting:
  • Abdominal breathing
  • Good posture
    • Keep your chin level
    • Keep your knees loose
    • Keep your head up
    • Keep your shoulders sloping and relaxed - Avoid holding your shoulders lifted and puffed out
  • Breath during natural pauses
  • Keep your toes pointed forward with your weight on heels and soles
  • Keep the front of your neck loose - don't stretch it
  • Keep abdominal muscles relaxed - Do NOT suck in your stomach!
  • Keep your back muscles relaxed
  • Relax and SMILE.
  • If your having a bad day or feel tense and stressed, this can affect your practices and performance. To help achieve consistancy do a few Relaxation Exercises before your rehearsal. If it all starts going horribly wrong, take a break, relax or do something else and try again later.
  • Stand with your shoulders relaxed, arms by your side.
  • Breath in slowly.
  • Sing one note, holding the note for as long as you can without becoming short of breath.
  • Repeat the exercise with different notes using doh, ray, me, far, so, la, te, doh.
  • Use different mouth shapes and vowels like "ooh", "ee", "a" and "aah"
  • Try singing up and down a scale (called an arpeggio).
  • Sing short notes (known as Staccato) as well as long ones.

Sing phrases to improve diction: Examples:-
  • 'I really love to sing' (going up the scale)
  • 'Do,re,me,fa,so,la,te,do'
  • 'La, Lo, Le, Lo'
  • 'Ma, Mo, Me, Mo'
  • 'Ta, To, Te, To'
  • 'Hi, He, Ha, Ho, Hu'
  • 'Qua, Quo, Que, Quo'
  • 'Fluffy Floppy Puppy'
  • 'Lolli, lolli, lolli, lolli pop'
  • 'Bring back the boys big brown blue baseball bats'
  • 'Sally saw silvester stacking silver saucers side by side'
  • (c-e-d-f-e-g-f-a-g-b-a-c--b-d-c up the scale then down the opposite way)



* stretch and yawn; hold the ending "ah" sound; relax your throat and jaws
  • chew the letter "N" on both sides of the mouth
  • shake out your face and lips, high and low
  • feel different parts of mouth and nasal passages vibrate with these different sounds:
Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum Mum
* open your mouth , eyes, and face as wide as you can on the last syllable of:
Mumula Mumula Mumula Mumula Mumula Mumula Mumula Mumula
* each phrase features different difficult consonant combinations. Start slow, over-articulating and then increase speed

Red letter, yellow letter
Good blood, bad blood
Eleven benevolent elephants
Teaching ghosts to sing
The big, black-backed bumblebee
A critical cricket critic
Selfish shellfish
Really rural
Unique New York
The tip of the tongue, the lips, the teeth
To titillate your tastebuds, we've got these tasty tidbits
Hemorrhoidal removal

* Feel a pulse in your diaphram with the following sounds
* This long tongue twister contains many buzz sounds and difficult consonant combinations. It is possible to say all in one breath if you use diaphramatic breathing and carefully control the volume of air expelled. Articulate every sound!
What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two,
a thing distinctly hard to say but harder still to do.
for they'll beat a tattoo at a quarter to two:
a rat-ta tat-tat ta tat-tat ta to-to.
and the dragon will come when he hears the drum
at a minute or two to two today, at a minute or two to two

from: http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG-caf/ActingSite/vocal.htm

The best way to get the most out of your voice is to learn to breathe properly. It's also the best way to start your warm-up.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees relaxed, arms hanging loosely. Theoretically and ideally, you've already gone through a physical warm-up. Take a deep, diaphragmatic breath and allow yourself to drop forward at the waist as you exhale. Roll back up and repeat, this time adding a sound as you inhale. Repeat several more times, getting louder each time.
  • Play motorcycle. Vibrate your lips, making engine sounds, taking the pitch up and down. Pretending to ride the road is optional, but makes it more fun.
  • Massage the sides of the jaw, releasing any tension you hold there. Cupping your hand in your chin, work your jaw up and down as fast as you can, making a sound. It'll come out something like "wawawawawawaw," but the faster the better.
  • Standing upright, breathing deeply, slowly and with control, start repeating "Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha." Think Eliza Doolittle with her paper and flame. Listen to hear if the sound is resonating in your chest. Feel the vibrations.
  • Sustain your breath on a hum. Play with the pitch, up and down the scale, feeling the vibrations resonate through your body. As you get more adapt at feeling the resonation, try and move it deliberately, through your chest, your jaw, your nose, your sinus cavities, your forehead, the top of your head, then back down again.
  • Moving on, we go from just open sound to a shaped one, working different syllables to loosen the tongue and jaw. Start with each set slowly, repeating it until you feel confident, then increase your speed until it is almost a hum.
    - La
    - Le
    - Te
    - Ta-Ka
    - O-E
    - mamalo papalo
  • Once you feel like you've loosened up, move on to the other vocal exercises.

Be sure and say these in only one breath!
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

A tutor who tooted the flute,
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it easier to toot,
Or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

Bobby Bibbit bought a bat.
Bobby Bibbit bought a ball.
With the bat, Bob banged the ball,
Banged the ball against the wall.

Amidst the mists and fiercest frosts,
With barest wrists and stoutest boasts,
He thrusts his fists against the post,
And still insists he sees the ghosts.

*The difference here is tutor and tooter. Tutor has a long "u" which is very different than the "oo" in tooter, but Americans tend to pronounce them the same way.
The difference between "st" and "sts" is almost a syllable. Make sure you aren't cutting that final "s" off or adding it where it doesn't belong.

The point of the exercise is to be able to say the entire piece in 1 breath. Work up to it by doing 1 breath per stanza, then 1 breath for 2 stanzas, etc. When you've mastered it, move on to "The Modern Major General"
Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe, and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must,
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

The point of the exercise is to be able to say the entire piece in 3 breaths. It can be done, but it takes practice. I would recommend starting with Fear No More, which is the same idea, but with shorter stanzas. When you have mastered that, move on to this one. Learn the pronunciations and remember to enunciate! It doesn't count if you slur your words.

"The Modern Major General"
from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance

I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral, I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical; I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical, I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical, About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news, With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.: I'm very good at integral and differential calculus; I know the scientific names of beings animalculous: In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's; I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox, I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus, In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous; I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies, I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes! Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore, And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore. Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform, And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform: In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin", When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin, When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at, And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat", When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery, When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery- - In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy, You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee. For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury, Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century; But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.