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Backstage Experts

1 Exercise for a More Efficient Vocal Warmup

1 Exercise for a More Efficient Vocal Warmup

What if you could buy back some time? What if you could ensure that you spend that one precious practice hour actually practicing, without wasting time on an extended warmup? One secret way to cut your warm-up time is by using a simple meditation.

Many singers and actors are aware of the effect of meditation on managing their nerves, anxiety, and ability to focus, but many are unaware of the additional, seemingly miraculous effect of minimizing warm-up times and releasing muscle tension. 

Meditation reportedly stimulates the vagus nerve, which powers many systems in your body like your heart rate and blood pressure, as well the muscles of your throat and larynx, or voice box. Stimulating this nerve through meditation also appears to open the throat more readily and drastically reduce the time it takes to warm up. 

Singers and actors have often noticed that as little as two minutes of meditation can ground the voice, open the throat, improve resonance, extend the range with greater ease, and more. Cutting your warm-up time from 20 minutes or more down to two minutes opens up time to focus on other aspects of your craft during your time-pressed practice sessions.

A simple two-minute meditation involves “single-nostril occlusion breathing.” Try it for yourself. First, without warming up, sing a short cut of a song or speak a part of your monologue. Notice the sensations of your voice and body while starting “cold.” Now, set your phone timer for two minutes. Close your eyes and place one finger over one nostril. Simply breathe normally while attending to your breath. 

If you’re in public and don’t want to cover the nostril, simply count your breaths silently to yourself. If you’d like to add voicing, try humming softly while imagining the voice emanating from your cheeks. 

When the timer goes off, slowly bring your attention back to the room. Open your eyes and once again sing or speak your cut. Notice how “warm” you are now. The change may be small or major. Don’t judge! Just continue to infuse this simple practice more and more into your life. With practice, you’ll notice faster and bigger results. 

To expedite your progress, find opportunities outside of your typical practice session to meditate. You can try these simple tricks throughout the day. For example, I encourage singers and actors to do this in the bathroom, when washing dishes, on the subway from 125th to 42nd, while waiting for an audition, and wherever you can spare an extra two minutes to yourself. With practice, you’ll notice that your voice is more and more, always “ready to go.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

So the next time you have no time to spare, simply find a two minutes to close your eyes and breathe. Notice how your voice will open for you and free you to focus on other aspects of your craft. 

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Tom Burke is an NYC–based speech pathologist, Broadway voice teacher, and a Backstage Expert. For more information, check our Burke’s full bio

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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