There are many vocal exercises available to singers and it is often hard to know which ones to use in your daily routine. Until I learned the purpose of these exercises and which were most effective, I relied on my singer teacher's guidance for warming up. Now that I know what I do, here are six daily exercises I would recommend.
Daily singing exercises include scales for gradually stretching and strengthening the vocal cords. These are sung with sounds such as 'na' and 'ya'. Singing vowels is beneficial for shaping your mouth and vocal slides, including sirens, yawns and lip trills, can help smooth and extend your range.
These daily exercises have been outlined clearly below so that you can get started today. I have also included an example of how you should sing each exercise.
Daily Singing Exercises
Dedicating just 20 minutes each day to vocal exercises is going to do a world of good for your voice. If you want to see faster results, you should dedicate as much time as your voice can handle. But 20 minutes will keep your voice strong and flexible and should increase your range over time.
I have chose the following six vocal exercises for a reason. As I mentioned earlier, there are many vocal exercises available to you, but these can be a bit overwhelming.
Let me make it easy for you and say right now that you do not need to include every vocal exercise ever created in your daily routine. If you think you'll get bored of the same exercises every day, you can swap the exercises with other similar exercises.
But the hard truth is that practice takes dedication. If you're willing to dedicate this time to improving your voice, you won't be sorry the next time you audition or perform on stage. With that siad, here are the six exercises I recommend.
1. Half-Scales ('Na')
To start your daily exercises, sing half-scales to warm up your voice gently. Your starting note should be comfortable for you to sing, sitting roughly in the middle of your range.
Singing the scale to the sound 'na' will engage your vocal cords in a similar way to normal singing. Once you have finished the first scale, move on to the next. The next scale should start on the note above your previous starting note so that each scale is higher than the last.
Once you reach the top of your range (the highest you can comfortably sing), make each scale lower than the last so that you slowly move towards the lower end of your range. Continue until you reach the lowest comfortable note.
For a detailed look into singing scales, take a look at this article.
Singing scales will help with the following:
- Gradually stretching and exercising your vocal cords
- Ear training for major scales
- Sing the correct pitch
- Strengthen the upper and lower limits of your range
2. Arpeggios ('Ya')
Arpeggios are similar to scales, but use broken chords. Instead of singing each note in the major scale (whether half the scale or the whole scale), you will sing the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th note of the scale.
Like the half-scale exercise, you should start on a note that is comfortable and roughly mid-range for your voice. Sing the arpeggio for this note and then continue higher and higher to reach your limit. Then contnue back down again.
This time, instead of singing 'na', you should sing with a 'ya' sound. This will force you to use more of a nasal tone, introducing clarity and effectiveness to your singing. Otherwise, singing arpeggios has similar benefits to scales.
3. Chromatic Vowels
Practicing your vowels will train your mouth to use the correct shapes when singing. For more information on the correct mouth shapes when singing (embouchure), click here.
To sing through your vowles, start with your lowest comfortable note. Using this pitch, you will sing through each vowel sound: 'Ah Eh Ee Oh Oo'. Keep the sound continuous instead of seperating each sound.
Once you have sung each vowel sound, move to the note above until you reach the highest note in your range.
This has a few benefits:
- Recognising different mouth shapes for each vowel
- Ear training for semitone (half) steps
- Breath control (maintaining a steady sound through each vowel)
4. Sirens ('Oo')
Sirens are an incredibly popular and effective vocal exercise. These are a form of vocal slide that imitate the sound of a siren (hence the name).
To sing a siren, find the lowest comfortable note you can sing. Start with this pitch and sing 'Oo' as you slide your voice higher and higher. In one continuous sound and breath, slide to the very top of your range and then back down again.
Try to listen to yourself as you sing the siren. If your voice cracks, this is your voice changing from your modal voice register to your falsetto register. Repeat the siren until this side is smooth and continuous. You can learn more about chest voice, head voice and falsetto in this article.
As your voice becomes smoother, you can also try to reach higher notes with each siren. Make sure you don't move higher until you can comfortably sing the previous note.
There are a range of benefits to sirens, which is why they're so popular. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Smooths the break between your modal and falsetto voice registers.
- Increases your vocal range.
- Encourages breath control (holding the siren in one continuous breath).
- Strengthens your head voice and falsetto register.
Yawns are a very easy and effective exercise for stretching the vocal muscles of your lower register. Simply do a big fake yawn, making sure you make an 'ah' sound as you do (not a silent yawn).
As you yawn, your pitch should be getting lower. Take note of the lowest note you can reach with your 'yawn' and try to reach a lower note every few yawns. Even if you can only each one note lower than before, this is still good progress!
The yawn is mainly used to warm up the lower register of your voice, but can also be used to extend your vocal range (so that you can sing lower than before).
6. Lip Trills (slides)
Lip trills are also known as bubbles, raspberries or the lip buzz. A lip trill involves blowing air through closed lips while you sing so that they vibrate. This is almost a halfway mark between singing and humming. The resistance of closed lips takes pressure off the vocal cords so that you can sing without damaging your voice.
For a more detailed explanation of the lip trill, take a look at this article. This will help you with a few tips if it doesn't come naturally.
As a daily exercise, lip trills can be used like sirens. As you trill, slide the pitch of your voice up to the top of your range and back down again. Continue this until you feel you can reach the next note.
Lip trills are one of the best exercises for extending your upper vocal range (allows you to sing higher than before).
If you do these exercises every day, you will see improvement in your voice. The best way to measure this is to keep track of the highest and lowest notes you can comfortably sing. You can also try running through your favourite song to see if it has become easier.