Whether you sing backup in a grunge band or are the lead vocal in a pristinely-produced pop outfit, your voice won’t sound its best on recordings without a little prep and care. Stuff like getting plenty of sleep, drinking copious amounts of water, and limiting alcohol and caffeine the week someone records are things proven to help a singer perform well, and vocal warm-ups are just as important. Here’s four vocal exercises to get your voice ready to record:
Start your vocal exercise with this strange but effective warmup. Beginning in your head voice, vocalize an “ah” sound that loosely falls down to a note somewhere low in your chest voice. Unlike the other exercises posted here, the point of this warmup isn’t to hit any specific notes, but to instead gently get your voice ready to perform.
*sing along to a metronome for the rest of these exercises
If you’ve never done this exercise, get ready to feel awkward. The idea here is to get you to breathe deeper and use your breath more efficiently. Keeping your lips pressed together, sing the first five notes of a major scale up and then back down before moving up a whole step. The first couple might be easy, but you’ll soon find that breathing deep and timing breaths correctly will be the only way to generate enough breath to make this exercise work, and that’s exactly the point.
This is another exercise designed to help you breathe deeper and smarter. Humming takes a great deal of breath to pull off, especially over long periods of time. You’ll sing the same ascending and descending five-note major scale pattern from the lip bubbles exercise, but by humming with your mouth closed. Pay close attention to your breath here. If your humming consistently sounds flat or you feel like you can’t keep up with the pace of the metronome, then you’re not breathing correctly.
Ma May Me Mow Moo
You’ll definitely want to do this exercise out of earshot of your bandmates or anyone else who might hear you. In this warm-up, you’ll vocalize the same five notes in a major key but with different “M” syllables. This is a phenomenal way to hear the different ways your voice can sound even while singing seemingly similar material. You’ll start by singing “Ma-May-Me-Mow-Moo” all on the same note in a major key before moving up a whole step. Feel free to move this exercise to a minor key if you’re so inclined.
The vocal warm-ups listed here are just a tiny fraction of the exercises out there designed to develop and prepare your voice. Starting with these will help get your voice ready to record, especially if you’ve never tried warming up your voice before. It’s important to remember that treating your voice right through exercises and vocalizing in a healthy way is crucial no matter what kind of music you make.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.