The more I talk to students, the more I realize how few singers out there warm up on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean vocalizing EVERY DAY. You may not realize it, but singing on your “off days” is actually a practical way to rest your voice properly. And even fewer students consider a warm down after a hearty vocal workout. It’s vital for helping you keep from straining once you move from singing to speaking for the rest of the day.
I was singing at a conference this past weekend, and a singer friend of mine was telling me about how she had developed nodes a few years ago and had to get surgery. In her recovery process, she went through speech therapy, but wasn’t fully recovered until she started vocalizing every day. It’s interesting because so often we think that vocal rest is what we need after getting sick, losing our voice, straining, or singing hard. So we just don’t make sound for days, or even worse, we whisper harshly and feel strained. Bad idea. What we need is vocal therapy. We need to recondition our voices back to speech level ease and health. Your chords rehabilitate themselves through proper chord closure. If you tore a muscle and had to go through physical therapy, you don’t just lay off completely, you relearn how to use the muscle and you move it the right way. When my friend I mentioned started vocalizing on her “off days” she noticed a significant strength increase in stamina and the quickness or her warm up routine.
We need to note that while vocal breaks for certain reasons are healthy, they aren’t always the most efficient. If you warm up on days you intend to take off from singing, guess what? It helps you on days that you ARE singing. Your chords remain pliable and strong. It doesn’t have to be a work out, just a bit of vocalizing.
The more commonly overlooked portion is a good warm down. Often during a lesson, I’ve had students say right after singing a heavy hitting exercise for a few minutes that they feel tight and stressed in their speaking voice. Note: this is AFTER an exercise, returning to a speaking voice coordination, not DURING the exercise, because that’s a whole other issue! The reason for this is that your muscles were just involved in some heavy lifting activity. To just turn around and start talking, which uses way less musculature, is a big switch and chances are your muscles haven’t fully relaxed back down. This is why a healthy warm down is really important to loosen you up and keep you from feeling tense, fatigued, and even swollen.
Try exercises with G’s like an “Ng” slide, or a “Goh, Goo, or Gee” with a heady or hooty sound. Even some vocal fry is great! Give it a shot. What’s your favorite warm down exercise to relax you? Do you vocalize every day? Have you noticed improvement in your voice overall?
To book a lesson with professional Brett Manning Associate Vocal Coach Shelby Rollins, please email Keith at [email protected] or call (888)269-7758