The Best Vocal Warm-Up Exercises

Unlocking the full potential of the human voice requires more than just raw talent; it means putting in a lot of diligent care and preparation.

Vocal warm-ups serve as an essential foundation for singers, priming their instrument for optimal performance. These warm-up exercises not only ensure physical readiness but also enhance vocal control, flexibility, and overall quality. From soothing hums to playful tongue twisters, each vocal warm-up technique plays a crucial role in preparing the voice for the stage.

For those who are just starting down this warm-up journey, we will explore the different types of vocal warm-ups, their importance, and why singers should prioritize them before every performance. By understanding the benefits and incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can unlock your true vocal potential and deliver captivating performances that resonate with audiences.

Here are six of the most common and most helpful exercises that will help you warm up and get ready for a stellar performance.


In This Article:

  • Humming
  • Lip Buzzing
  • Making Vowel Sounds
  • Tongue Trilling
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Yawning


1. Humming

Humming warm-ups are highly effective for preparing the voice before singing, offering quite a few benefits to singers. When we hum, we engage the vocal cords and create a gentle resonance within the head and facial cavities. These vibrations help to awaken and activate the vocal muscles, promoting vocal agility and flexibility.

Humming also assists in warming up the breath control muscles, as it requires sustained airflow and control. On top of all of that, humming exercises can help to improve pitch accuracy and intonation, as singers can focus on producing a steady and precise hum. You’re probably already humming along to songs all day, so this will be an easy one to learn.

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2. Lip Buzzing

It’s a bit silly, but don’t discount this option! Lip buzzing exercises are an especially valuable warm-up technique for all singers. By gently pressing the lips together and exhaling, singers create a buzzing sound that engages the lips, facial muscles, and diaphragm. This exercise helps to warm up and strengthen the muscles involved in vocal production, including the lips and the muscles of the abdomen.

Lip buzzing also aids in developing both breath control and breath support, as it requires a controlled and steady airflow. Furthermore, this technique helps singers to become more aware of the sensation of resonance, as the vibrations from lip buzzing can be felt throughout the face and head.


3. Making Vowel Sounds

Making vowel sounds is a fundamental vocal warm-up exercise that seems easy…and that’s because it really is, but that doesn’t make it any less vital. By producing common vowel sounds such as “ah,” “ee,” “oh,” and “oo,” singers engage and activate their vocal instrument. This exercise helps to warm up the vocal folds, mouth, and throat, preparing them for efficient and controlled vocalization.

Making vowel sounds also aids in improving resonance and tonal quality by allowing singers to focus on shaping and placing their voices in specific resonating spaces. This exercise also promotes breath control and support as singers sustain vowel sounds on a steady stream of airflow. Many of these vowels will be commonly said and sung anyway, so preparing the vocal cords and the mind to do so perfectly is always a great route to go before your next open mic in LA.


4. Tongue Trilling

Tongue trilling is an excellent vocal warm-up exercise…if you can make it work! Not everyone can perfect this trick, but those who can get to reap the benefits.

This technique involves fluttering the tongue rapidly against the roof of the mouth while producing sound, which is often very loud. Tongue trilling helps to loosen and relax the muscles of the tongue, promoting better articulation and diction. It also aids in improving breath control and airflow management, as the rapid fluttering of the tongue requires a controlled and consistent stream of air.

Furthermore, tongue trilling helps to increase vocal agility and flexibility by engaging the muscles responsible for vocal production. It can also assist in releasing tension in the jaw and throat, allowing for more freedom and ease while singing, which many people overlook. Definitely use this before the big power ballad when you are on your summer promotional festival tour.

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5. Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are not only a fun and entertaining exercise but also an incredibly valuable tool for warming up the voice and improving diction and clarity in speech and singing. Being able to sing well isn’t enough–you have to be able to enunciate as well.

Tongue twisters consist of phrases or sentences that contain a series of challenging and repetitive sounds, requiring quick and precise articulation. We know these well from when we were kids. Remember “sally sells seashells by the seashore?” Well, turns out that can help you become a great vocalist!

When practiced as part of a warm-up routine, tongue twisters help to promote agility and coordination of the tongue and lips, enhancing articulatory precision and clarity. By repeating tongue twisters with increasing speed and accuracy, singers can improve their enunciation, diction, and overall vocal clarity

Tongue twisters also engage the brain in a linguistic challenge, helping to warm up the cognitive processes involved in speech production. Of all the exercises mentioned in this article, this may be the one that comes with the most benefits!


6. Yawning

 It’s something we’ve all done naturally, but did you know that it can be great for singers? Yawning techniques are highly beneficial for warming up before singing due to their ability to relax and engage various muscles involved in vocal production. Yawning involves a deep inhalation followed by a gradual, controlled exhalation, mimicking the natural process of well, actually yawning.

This exercise helps to release tension in the throat, jaw, and facial muscles, which are crucial for producing clear and resonant vocal tones. Yawning also helps to open up the throat and expand the airway, allowing for better airflow and improved vocal projection. As you can see, a lot of these exercises are about airflow, and yawning is a great one that focuses specifically on that issue.

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