Brett Manning takes a holistic approach with his method for helping you achieve your singing success. So, just as itâ€™s important for you to warm up your voice, itâ€™s also important to warm up physically, especially before a live performance. Remember the body, mind, and spirit are all interconnected. Each must be fully functional and relaxed in order to achieve your full potential as a singer, performer, or singer-songwriter.
As a singer you are a storyteller, communicator, and actor. As you move from story to story with each song you create a variety of settings and evoke feelings through your interpretive skills that often require you to subtly shift perspectives and even sometimes become a different character. Each song you sing requires a physical energy that heightens your vocal performance as well as delivery and interpretation of the lyrics.
To help you achieve your maximum potential as a singer and performer, you need to be physically prepared and warmed up. This will help you tap into the energy you need and channel it effectively throughout your performance with natural gestures, movement on stage, working the mic, and developing a rapport with your audience.
Fine-Tuned To Channel
You need to be relaxed both in mind and body in order to channel and direct appropriate emotion and energy so that you create the dynamic of the story you are telling through song. The following warm up exercises are commonly used by many singers and actors and will help you to become more physically relaxed, flexible, and primed to perform.
To allow for better facial expression during your performance, you can do whatâ€™s often called the facial stretch. This allows expression to come with greater ease. You begin by opening your mouth as wide as you can, stretching your mouth as wide as possible, with your eyes wide. You then begin to clench and scrunch up your face, frowning and grimacing as tightly as you can. Think of it as your face making a fist. Itâ€™s like youâ€™re a little kid whoâ€™s tasted something horrible or is fighting to not taste something thatâ€™s pretty nasty.
As you scrunch up your face you can also include your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and as much of your body as you like. Once youâ€™re sufficiently scrunched up, hold onto that pose for a ten count. And then, quickly let go as you completely release the tension in your body. Do this three or four times, as you exaggerate the scrunching for a variety of reasons.
Imagine tasting or resisting something that is extreme bitter, or is sickeningly sweet, or is medicine that you hated taking as a kid, or is your least favorite food that you were always told was good for you. Or you may think of it as making a horrible face to annoy or amuse someone. Focus on the stretching. After completing the facial stretching, youâ€™ll notice a very relaxed sense and feeling begin to work its way throughout your entire body.
Cat Got Your Tongue
If your song set is full of alliteration, spins of complex phrasing and tricky word play, or if itâ€™s naturally simple and conversational, you want to be able to clearly and effortlessly articulate. This requires your tongue to be primed, supple, pliable, and relaxed. For this simple exercise, stick out your tongue and try to touch the bottom of your chin. Do this for a slow count of ten. Then, stretch your tongue upward as you try to touch the tip of your nose. Do this for a slow count of ten. Then, stretch your tongue to the left to try to touch your left ear for a slow ten count and then stretch toward the right ear for another slow ten-count. One complete round of four stretches to a slow ten count should be sufficient.
The snow angel exercise can bring out the kid in you. It is literally a slow motion engagement of the childhood (or young at heart) practice of making snow angels in the snow – or for the adventurous on a tropical vacation – making sand angels on the beach.
To begin this exercise, get on the floor and stretch out, flat on your back, with your feet together and arms tightly clutching your sides. Next, take a slow deep breath as you spread your legs and feet apart as far as you can stretch them while you move your arms and hands along the floor until they are straight up above your head on the floor. Then pause, take another deep breath as you move back to your original position.
Repeat this process with five slow breaths as you move your hands and arms to their position on the floor above your head, with your legs and feet spread as far as comfortably possible, and five slow breaths back to the original position.
This exercise provides stretch with back support. You can also do variations on the breaths such as rhythmic vowel sound sounds like â€œho-ho-hoâ€ as you slowly repeat your moves. In other words, say â€œhey-hey-heyâ€¦he-he-heâ€¦.etc.â€ The point is to stretch, relax, and enjoy feeling a little bit like a kid again.
Shake It Up
The shake up will help to relax your entire body and free up tension from self-consciousness, inhibitions, or the daily stress of a busy lifestyle. You’ve probably seen athletes such as swimmers, gymnasts, or figure skaters shake their arms wildly at their sides just before beginning a performance or race. These gyrations will get your muscles warmed up, loosen up the nerves, and stimulate circulation. Youâ€™ll notice that you begin to feel invigorated almost immediately once you start shaking.
Begin the shake up by standing quietly with your arms hanging at your sides. Then start first by repeatedly shaking your hands. Then, let the shaking slowly move its way up your arms and then to your shoulders. You can then shake up as much of your body as you like, or simply concentrate on hands, arms, and shoulders. Whatever the route you choose for the shak up, reverse its order as it leaves your body so that the shake up ends with your hands shaking.
The shake up releases any tension in the body, relaxes the muscles, gets blood flowing, and helps you with focus and concentration.
Ready To Move The Masses
Now that youâ€™re physically relaxed and warmed up, you can apply the appropriate body posture, facial expression, and physical energy needed to tell the story of each song in character as necessary. You also have more flexibility and control once you are physically warmed up.
We recommend that you get The Pro Singerâ€™s Vocal Warm Up, offered through SSTV, so you can be warmed up vocally as well. Then, you will be ready to give that total performance that engages your full potential to move your audience song by song.
We also encourage you to check out live performance guru and coach, Tom Jackson, for effective programs on how to consistently manage and master the many physical demands of giving an effective, dynamic live performance.
Whether youâ€™re a singer, actor, speaker, teacher, truck driver, office worker, or whatever – using this set of simple exercises can help you prepare for any potentially stressful situation so that any challenges you face can be met with greater ease and confidence.
We encourage you to order The Pro Singerâ€™s Vocal Warm Up by James R. Wigginton. Click on the SSTV products tab for this downloadable program that will help you maximize your vocal potential on a daily basis. Use these exercises to help manage the physical demands of life and live performance.