5 Ways Singers Can Warm up Faster

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Photo Source: Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

To warm up faster vocally you need to focus on your balance, breath, heart rate, warmth, vibration, and tongue exercises.

One thing I love about training singers is that everyone is different. There are no two bodies, brains, or voices that are alike, and that’s endlessly interesting to me. One of the variables I often notice is the length of time it takes a singer to warm up: some performers do one exercise and they’re good to go, while others need longer to feel ready to “play their sport” well.  

If you’re a slow starter when it comes to warming up, it’s possible that your interoceptive system is slow. Interoception is basically self-knowledge in a visceral way and lives in a part of your brain called the insula which is in charge of sending blood to your muscles calmly and efficiently during exercise (including vocal exercise!).  

If you suspect this might be you, try these five ideas to see if you can cut your prep time in half:

Balance: Balance is the oldest sense in our body. We start to develop our vestibular organs—the ones that control balance—at about 24 days in the womb (even a fetus needs to know which way is up!). Your insula is taking cues from your balance system and if this sense is weak, it will affect your warm-up.  

Check your balance by standing on one leg with your toes facing forward, no turn-out.  Count or time yourself to see how long you can stand on one foot without falling out of it.  The goal for a singer is to last for one minute on each foot with your eyes closed. If you’re able to do it for one minute, the next step is to shake your head yes, shake your head no, and tilt your ear toward your shoulder while standing on one foot, all with eyes closed. Try practicing randomly throughout the day instead of mindlessly being on your phone.

Heart rate: One of the easiest ways to jumpstart your interoception is to listen to your heart. Put your hand on your chest or place your fingertips on the side of your neck to feel for your pulse. Count at least 30 beats. You can also feel for Heart Rate Variability: you should feel a slight quickening of your pulse on the inhale and a slight slowing on the exhale.

READ: How to Become a Singer

Warmth: Making your abdomen warmer is like a boost for your insula. You can do this with a hot water bottle, heating pad, or see if your pet cat will curl up on your belly. You can also wear a neoprene belt under your clothes; this model is slim and can fit under many audition outfits without anyone being the wiser.  

Vibration: If you have access to a personal massager, add some vibration to your warmup. Singing is vibration in the body, so if you’re a vocalist, you already know you love it. Adding some vibratory stimulus along your spine, the back of your neck, your abs and even your face/skull can be an awesome way to prep your body for singing more quickly.

Tongue exercises: The tongue is a big part of warming up faster from a brain-based perspective. Check out my this article for some awesome tongue exercises.

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Andrew Byrne
Andrew Byrne is a voice teacher, performer, and composer-lyricist. His songs have been featured in movies, Seth Rudetsky’s “Obsessed!” series, and in many international concert venues. He has served on the University of Michigan musical theater faculty, and has taught internationally at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, The Banff Centre, and the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre.
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