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Improve Your Singing with Vocal Exercises

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Published on  |  Last Updated on May 8, 2024

Learning to sing songs is a very small part of a singer’s singing journey. In order to sing songs, singers undertake various other tasks. You will often see singers dedicating a lot of their training time to learning different vocal techniques, warming up their voices, and are seen to be carrying out different vocal exercises. In this blog, we will uncover the importance of these vocal exercises. So, let’s begin.

singing-on-the-brain

Warm Up

Why is so much effort put into warm-ups? Well, the answer is simple; it helps in waking up our bodies. Thus, helps in the prevention of sustaining any injuries or strain to the muscles, joints, or any body part. For instance, before beginning to play a footballer or any sportsperson is first seen warming up their bodies. Even in the case of ballet dancers, they put a lot of effort into stretching their bodies and working their muscles.

Similarly, before any performance, a singer always warms up as well. Many might think that singing only requires very limited parts of our body. On the contrary, a singer must have a good semblance of their body for better singing. Thus, warming up their bodies, especially their voices is essential when learning how to sing.

In this blog, we will primarily focus on the warming up of one’s voice. To know more about how other parts of the body affect one’s singing. Check out our article “How to Sing.”

Warming up one’s voice

We are able to produce voice thanks to the help of our vocal cords. The vocal cords are made up of different muscles. Hence, like any other muscle of our body, it requires warming up before it is used. Warming up one voice has many benefits.

Releases Tension

First and foremost, warm-up helps in releasing the pent-up tension that is present in the muscles of one’s vocal cords. It results in the relaxing of the muscles that help in avoiding any unwanted strain on one’s voice when singing.

Building Up Strength

Vocal warm-ups are extremely helpful in strengthening one’s vocal cords. Different vocal techniques and exercises help in the proper stretching and systematic training of the vocal muscles. Which results in an increase in the flexibility and endurance of the vocal cords.

Vocal Health

Since vocal warm-ups provide regular exercise and positive stimulation to the muscles present in the vocal cords, they help in maintaining and improving the vocal health of an individual.

Faster Learning

Warm-ups are an essential component when one starts singing training. It further helps in laying a strong foundation for the singers. A solid foundation is very beneficial when learning new and different skills such as “belting” or “falsetto.”

Vocal Exercises

We have listed a few exercises below which can help you in warming up your voice and simultaneously help in improving different aspects of your voice, vocal technique, and singing.

Yawning

One of the best ways to release tension from one’s jaw, tongue, and throat is to yawn. There are a few technicalities that one must keep in mind when yawing to sing. Slowly open your jaw as widely as possible. While opening your jaw slowly try to inhale. When exhaling keep your mouth closed but remember to keep your teeth apart. After taking a few yawn breaths try humming while exhaling. You should be at a comfortable pitch while humming. The opening and loosening of the facial muscles, throat, and tongue help in avoiding any potential voice straining.

Jaw Loosening

Having a stiff jaw becomes a constraint while singing. To prevent that carry out the following exercise. Gently massage the facial muscles especially the muscles around your jaw. Relax and trace your jawline with your finger and massage the area/ the curve between the ear and the jaw. Keep a circular motion when messaging as it increases the blood flow. Open your jaw and repeat the exercise. Keep repeating the exercise a few times. The exercise not only helps in the flow of the voice but also helps in enhancing voice clarity. As well as improve the pronunciation and articulation of the words while singing.

Become a Humming Bird

One of the most popular exercises is to hum. Relax your body and put your tongue behind the front of your bottom teeth. Try making the sound “Hmm” with your lips closed and try opening your jaw. Try to increase the intensity of the humming. Also, try to sustain and hold the notes while humming. This exercise is one of the aces among vocal exercises as it provides varied benefits. Starting from stretching one’s vocal cords, improves breathing, and relaxes one’s facial muscles. It also helps in building vocal resonance and tonal quality.

The Siren

The siren exercise is one of the best ways in which one can warm up their vocal cords. The daily use of siren exercise also helps in expanding one’s vocal range. Begin with producing the sound “ooh” like a siren. To make it easier for understanding, imitate the siren that you can hear on an ambulance or a fire truck. Start from the lowest scale to the highest scale within your vocal range. When gliding up and down your vocal range if you feel any strain or uneasiness in your voice, stop and give your voice a good rest. Apart from giving a good stretch to one’s vocal cords this exercise helps in identifying the presence of any fatigue in one’s voice. It also helps in improving the skill of transitioning between notes.

Practice the Sound of Music and the Scales

Well, what we mean by the sound of music is to practice Solfège. Many of you might wonder what is solfège? Solfege refers to a music system that consists of different syllables which are given to every note of the music scale. The scales can be broadly categorized into two groups minor and major scale. Both of which consist of 7 notes each. The syllables given to the notes are “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti.” Solfege and scale exercises are excellent for pitch training, ear training, harmony, etc. Start with singing in middle C. Go up and down the scale. In the beginning sing with the assistance of an instrument such as a piano. Keep practicing. When you start becoming efficient try singing at a faster speed. Subsequently, try to sing on higher pitches after you get a hold of the present pitch at which you are singing. Practice different scales such as natural minor, harmonic minor, etc. The following audios are an example of the above mentioned major scale, natural minor scale and harmonic minor scale respectively.

Major Scale
Natural Minor Scale
Harmonic Minor Scale

Tongue Trills

Trill your tongues! For this exercise you need to carry out the following steps:

Relax your tongue and position your tongue behind the upper front teeth. Inhale through your nose. While exhaling curl your tongue and try to roll your R’s. The rolling of the R should sound like a cat’s purr. You will feel vibrations in your mouth and especially in your tongue and the upper part of your mouth. Try to hold on to your trills as long as possible. Once when you have gotten accustomed to the tongue trills try to trill your tongue through your vocal range. Tongue trill exercise helps in increasing one’s endurance, speech articulation, and clarity and helps in relieving tension from one’s throat, tongue and face.

Breathing Exercises

Breathe management is crucial when singing. Learning how to properly control your breathing will help you in sustaining notes. It will give you a better understanding and further help in identifying and learning different breathing patterns, which can be required for different songs with varied rhythms, beats, and tempos. The following exercises can help you improve your breathing technique, breath support, and breath control.

Practice Correct/Proper Breathing

To produce a fuller, strong voice a singer requires air which acts as a support to the voice when singing. Thus, singers use correct breathing. Another name for correct breathing is diaphragmatic breathing. When we use diaphragmatic breathing our stomach swells up when we inhale and flattens when we exhale. To better understand the breathing technique, picture a ball inflating when air is blown into the ball and deflating when the air is released for the ball. This style of breathing helps in increasing the intake of air into our lungs. The image below is a visual representation of diaphragmatic breathing.

diaphragmatic-breathing
Diaphragmatic Breathing

Hiss it out

The following exercise helps in the development of the sound of an individual as a singer.

Sit on the edge of a chair and relax your body. Lean your upper body slightly forward and rest your forearms on your knees. Do not forget to relax!

Make an “O” shape with your mouth and inhale just like using a straw. Make an “sss” sound thus hiss while you exhale. Begin with 4 counts when inhaling and exhaling and go up to 8 counts. The first audio mentioned below will help you better understand the sounds that one needs to produce when carrying out the exercise.

Hissing Sound

The following audio consists of the counts on which one can practice the inhaling and exhaling required in the exercise. Start the exercise after the beats end.

Counts

Lip Trills or Lip Buzz

Bring your lips together to form a straight line. Now inhale through your nose. While exhaling keep your lips together and make a sound similar to a motorbike. You will feel vibrations and tickling sensations on your lips and nose. Begin lip trilling without a pitch. Then try to trill your lips at different pitches and try to hold them for 4-5 seconds. After that, you can also try sliding through the pitches while trilling your lips. Lip trills not only improve one’s breath control but also helps in warming up one’s diaphragm. Always remember before starting this exercise warm up your facial muscles and release the tension from them especially your jaw and then you are good to go.

Voice Clarity and Articulation

Focusing on one’s voice clarity and articulation helps in the development of different qualities such as tonal quality, vocal texture, resonance, etc. The following exercises primarily focus on voice clarity and articulation.

voice-clarity-and-articulation
Voice Clarity And Articulation

Sing the Vowels

One of the best ways to work on voice clarity and articulation is to sing the vowels “Aa, Ae, Ee, Oh, Ooh.” It helps in controlling the shape of one’s mouth. Sing the vowels one after another on the same pitch. Let the sound of the vowels flow easily do not put extra strain on your face or tongue when singing the vowels. Gradually try to sing the vowels at a higher pitch. Try to ascend half a pitch higher with every try. Pay attention to the way you articulate each vowel. Apart from clarity and articulation, this exercise also helps in improving the quality of tone, vowel, and pitch of a singer.

M&Ms

This exercise is again for improving articulation further. Try singing the sentence “Mommy Made Me Mash My M&Ms.” Start at a lower scale and glide up and down the scales and pitches. Another exercise that uses vowels and helps in controlling the shape of one’s mouth is to sing “Ma-Mae-Mee-Mo-Moo.” Like the former exercise start at a lower scale. You can also sing it in a straight tone. For better clarity and understanding the first audio is an example of how to sing “Mommy Made Me Mash My M&Ms.” The second audio consists of “Ma-Mae-Mee-Mo-Moo” in a straight tone.

Mommy Made Me Mash My M&Ms
Ma-Mae-Mee-Mo-Moo

Conclusion

For fruitful results, one must add these exercises to their daily vocal training. One can find it rather mundane and momentous to carry out these methods and exercises on a daily basis. The progress might not be visible immediately but being persistent with them will help you to build a strong foundation and healthy voice. These exercises are one of the easiest and best ways of taking care of one’s voice and vocal health as well. It will also improve different areas of your vocal skills and will definitely improve one’s singing. A well-trained robust voice can endure a longer duration of practice and singing. Lastly, enjoy the process of learning and keep singing.

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Tushhita Barua
Music is a window to one’s soul. At least that’s what I believe in. Hey, I am Tushhita Barua. Growing up in a musical household, from Hindustani classical to Western, music has been an instrumental component of my life. Here at Music Master, I express my appreciation for the beautiful world of music through words and writing blogs.
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