Anyone who sings should think of themselves as an athlete. Athletes must warm up their mind and body to engage and ready their muscles so they can perform at their optimum level without creating stress or damage. And with every stretch the athlete's body becomes stronger, more flexible and able. Similarly, everything from our limbs, posture and our facial expressions can have a huge impact on the sound we make as singers, improving our vocal health and the positive benefits we reap from singing.
When we sing, we engage the mind, body and breath. So a few simple stretches and warm ups can get us ready and improve both the sound we make and our experience of it.
Invest a little time by following these simple steps to make sure your body, mind and voice are all ready to sing safely and with best results.
With your eyes closed, count 10 deep breaths out of your belly. This will bring your attention and focus into the present moment as well as engaging the breath, the fuel of the voice.
2. Bob your Knees
Lock your knees and the rest of your body will follow suit, leading to locked abdominals, preventing proper breathing technique and blood and energy flow. Avoid this tension by bouncing up and down a few times and keeping a soft bend in the knee as you sing.
3. Shake it Off
In the wise words of Taylor Swift, you 'gotta shake it off'. Get your feet, hands and limbs shaking to rid your body of excess stress and tension. Flick away tension in your fingertips, and use this as an opportunity to leave any external stresses outside of your singing rehearsal or performance.
4. Hips Don't Lie
Isolate your hips to free up your lower torso and release any stress being stored there. Move your hips in circles, then in figures of eight. Lastly spell your own name using your hips, keeping the rest of your body as still as possible.
5. Roll Your Shoulders
Shoulders are the holder of much of our tension, and this can be damaging for producing a free sound. Circle them backwards and forwards and then lift and drop them to relax. When you sing your shoulders should be low and still - never try and breathe by lifting your shoulders.
6. Pull a Face
This one's not pretty but it will rid your face of any excess tension held in the jaw, mouth and face, allowing a free, open sound. Start with a yawn (relaxing and stretching the larynx and mouth) and let this open up the face, letting your jaw fall open. Then screw up your face into a tiny ball, and release it as widely as possible. Repeat!
7. Lip Trills
Make sure your lips are loose and your breath is engaged by spending 20 seconds or so performing some lip trill sirens. Blow a raspberry through relaxed lips and then alter the pitch by making the sound both high and low, moving between the two as smoothly as possible. This relaxes the face and engages your vocal apparatus, getting you ready to sing.
What are your favourite pre-singing physical warm ups? Share them with us below!