learn to sing

Warm-up Exercises for Singers


If you thought warm-up exercises were just for athletes, you're mistaken. Warm-up exercises for singers provide many benefits too. It's just that warm-up exercises for singers focus primarily on getting your vocal cords and all associated muscles relaxed and free moving. These warm-up exercises are one of the keys to developing vocal endurance and for preventing damage to the vocal cords.



The idea is basically the same, whether you're warming up for an athletic event or singing. You might think the less you sing, the less likely you'll cause damage. But, the reality is that using your vocal cords more while in a relaxed, controlled repertoire helps you to prepare your vocal cords for more strenuous, performance efforts. In this way you'll be more prone to bending and less prone to breaking.


Good singers make use of a variety of muscles to support full sounds. So your warm-up exercises should include your entire body. Focus on getting everything to move freely. In other words, you want to move around until you are hanging loose. Gently shake everything. Make sure your whole body is relaxed.



Once you're loose, you can do some postural stretching. Start by standing flat footed. Raise up onto your toes and breath deeply as you raise your arms up across your body up above your head using a circular motion. Without letting your chest fall or your shoulders sag forward, lower yourself and your arms simultaneously while exhaling until you are again standing flat footed. You should be in a good singing position now.


An interesting warm-up exercise to begin with is the raspberry. It goes by a lot of other names as well, but basically it is when you let your breath out through pucker lips. The lips vibrate on each other and make some interesting sounds during the raspberry.


Next, do a buzz slide. This is where you start with a tone, move up by a fourth, and then return to your original tone. You may want to pronounce a long “eee” for your original tone and a “ooo” for your fourth. If you're working with C major, you would do C-F-C. Slide a half step over to a C#-F#-C# for your next buzz. After that, you'll slide a half step to D-G-D. Continue your buzz slide. The idea of the buzz slide is to prepare your supporting muscles for proper breathing.


Next, do a slide by fifths. This time use “weee” and “zooo”. For this exercise, you won't be repeating your original tone, but instead starting with the fifth and moving back. If you're working with C major, you would do G-C. Move up a half step, in this case to Ab-Db. Progress forward in this manner.


Next, the joyous descending scale of five tones. Start with the fifth tone and move back one tone at a time until you reach the first tone. Again, you'll move up a half-step and repeat. Continue this warm-up exercise through the whole range.


Next, you'll move to a full scale of eight tones. You may know it as “doh”-“ray”-“mee”-“fah”-“soh”-“lah”-“tee”-“doh”. Once again, you'll continue moving through your range a half-step up with each repetition. You can repeat your motion through the full scale several times to get really loose. With each time through try a different syllable sound, such as “new”, “noh”, “nee”, and “nay”. If you need more, try “mew”, “moh”, “mee”, and “may”.


Finally, do the slide by octaves. This is where you choose a note and repeat it through your full range of octaves.  Move up a half and go through your full range again. After you've covered all of the notes, your warm-up exercises for singing are complete.