13th March 2023
Best Vocal Warm Ups For Actors
13th March 2023
As any actor knows, you need to really warm up those muscles to give your best performance. I’m sure you have heard of these before, but some maybe you haven’t, so listen up. It is important to do these vocal warm ups on a daily basis, so your voice is in the best shape to perform. This may sound obvious, but your voice is an instrument and you need to take care of it. Vocal strain is a real thing and so these fun vocal warm ups below will enable you to go out there and shine without breaking your voice and sitting the next show out.
Any vocal coach will tell you that good vocal warm ups change how you perform and we need to incorporate them into our day-to-day lives as actors. We do not want to lose our breath on that all important line. We do this to extend our range and combat damage to the voice.
So here we go, let’s delve into the exercises you need to be doing every day and before you go on stage.
We all know that having a good old yawn relaxes the throat, tongue, facial muscles and jaw and additionally relieves any tension you may have. Incorporate a few yawns into your vocal warm up session as an actor and these will be very good for you and your voice.
Similar to yawning, loosening the jaw will enable you to really be able to move your mouth and jaw to hit those notes. Nobody wants tension in their jaw as actors and it will improve your diction.
By just simply massaging your jaw as you keep it open will stimulate blood flow so you will feel more relaxed.
As actors, we want to strengthen those vocal chords, so sirens are a really easy way to accomplish this. They are a way to move through a range of notes and scales without damaging your voice. You move up the scale from your lowest to highest note and then back down again using a vowel sound such as an ‘oooo’, really focusing on the fluidity of the movement and having control over your voice. In short, this should be one continuous sound. Do not strain your voice however and only reach the highest note you can produce comfortably.
I love these vocal warm ups as they improve breathing and really use your diaphragm. All you do is use a motorboat motion to do it. Put your lips together, breathe in and out, making your lips vibrate and so causing a brrrr sound. Simple as that!
This will be easier for some actors but all you need to do is curl your tongue and roll your rrr’s as you go through your range starting from low to high.
Simply just humming will stretch those vocal chords once again and will not put strain on them. You can do this for any length of time using a ‘hmmmm’ sound and see how long you can hold it for. The key is to really relax your whole body and facial muscles, so this exercise will work even better for you. An easy vocal warm up for beginners I seem to find as anybody can do this one.
Breathing techniques are vital to any actor as you need to really be in charge of what your body is doing. It takes practice, but remember to breathe from your diagram and not your shoulders. Practice seeing how long you can hold your breath for and in the long run, you will see you have more power and control over your voice.
Try inhaling into your diaphragm and exhaling on a hiss.
Stand up tall with a good posture and inhale for 5 seconds. Hold the breath for another 5 and then as you exhale, release it with a hissing sound for 5 seconds. Repeat the process and then see how much longer you can hold your breath with every cycle. With more practice, the better you will be at doing this and your singing capability will improve. I ensure this simple breathing exercise will do wonders. This is one for the 5 min vocal warm up technique! Or longer!
To really get your pronunciation skills in order, using tongue twisters for vocal warm ups are the best way to do this. These vocal warm up sentences stretch and strengthen the muscles which you use to speak. They warm up the lips, teeth, and tongue and will improve diction. As actors, the audience needs to be able to really hear you, so why not try a few of these tongue twisters as part of your daily warm up routine.
– Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry
– Round and Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran
– I saw a saw that could out saw any other saw I ever saw
– Six slippery snails, slid slowly seaward
– How much wood could a wood chuck; chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood
Another name for this technique is straw phonation. Take a straw and hum into it gliding between your whole vocal range, from low to high. Do not rush this technique. Another use for a straw is to blow bubbles into water and see how your breathing capacity increases, which is of course what all actors are aiming to achieve.
Make an “eeee” or “ohhhh” sound and gradually glide through the chromatic notes of a two-octave range. Slowly make your way up and down the scale and you will be using a combination of both your head and chest voice.
Try to do vocal warm up exercises on a daily basis and commit to 20 minutes a day. Maybe try in the morning, or whatever works for you, but once you have got into some routine, your body and vocal chords will become accustomed to this and you will decrease your chances of damage. Your vocal chords are muscles that need to be trained and looked after properly.
As an actor I hope that you are familiar with these techniques and that you are already using them in your daily routine. Whether you are performing to a packed out west end or fringe style venue, every actor needs to do vocal warm ups prior to taking the stage. So get into the habit of doing them regularly and you will notice the difference in breath support, releasing tension and improving your singing in general. Practice makes perfect!