After making sure we are breathing optimally in order to sing well, we need to make sure our vocal chords are working well, and that our voice is resonating across a comfortably wide range.
To begin with let’s quickly look at the basic mechanisms of singing, to give us an idea of why we might want to do these warm up exercises. Alexander Massey again:
So, after making sure we are breathing correctly for singing, from the diaphragm, let’s start using the voice.
Standing up straight, stretch up high with your arms as you breathe in deeply, then open your mouth and yawn, gently using your voice, as your hands gently fall back to your sides,. Shake your hands when they get back to your sides to get rid of any tension.
Repeat this exercise, this time with a gently vocalised sigh, descending in pitch.
Repeat again, this time with an extended open “ah”, /ɑː/ sound, (as in “far”).
Repeat using open “ee”, /iː/, (as in “sheep”),
then “oor”, /ɔː/, (as in “door”),
then “o”, /ɒ/, (as in “on”, except longer),
and finally “oo”, /uː/, (as in shoot).
Next, standing tall, but without any sense of stiffness, making sure your knees aren’t locked, feet just a little wider apart than your shoulders, take a deep breath and make a siren sound, going from low to high, and back down again.
Let your voice fall as deep as it wants to go. I tend to start with an “ah” sound, and move to the “ooh” sound as I go up. Something like, “Waa-oooh”.
Repeat this exercise, increasing the number of sirens, up and down. This will encourage you to breathe deeply and correctly.
Finally, in this part, one siren, allowing yourself to aim at a higher pitch. How high can you go?
Next belly laugh. Take a deep breath, this goes without saying by now, and laugh like a Lord in the house of Lords, or Santa Claus, whatever works for you. Then, repeat, with a more lady like laugh, using the higher part of your voice. Make sure the laugh is coming from your belly, your diaphragm, with no constriction in the throat.
Having done all of this we have warmed up and relaxed, hopefully in a fun and relaxed manner, our breathing mechanisms, our voice box, (larynx and vocal chords), and the resonating areas in our mouth, face and arguably head. Now it’s time to “tune the voice”.