Warm-up & cool-down: get your voice in shape

Bernadette & Friends17 February 2024

You'd like to skip that too, wouldn't you? Those typical warm-up exercises for the voice, the lip-bubbling, sounding like a siren and so on. That's boring and a waste of time, better to start straight away with register and Belting-exercises that you need for your songs. And then above all: sing your songs! Or would you rather take the time for a vocal warm-up?

The fact is: it doesn't just feel better when your voice is warmed up. Your audience also hears it, as has been discovered. After a vocal warm-up, you can sing better and for longer. This is because your voice is made up of a muscle, held together by cartilage and ligaments. Like all muscles, your vocal muscle can only perform at its best if you have warmed it up first.

To do this, you need a few simple exercises to prepare your voice for singing. Very similar to the mobilisation exercises that athletes do at the start of their training.

Advantages of a vocal warm-up

Warm-up exercises for the voice are an important part of the daily singing routine. They

  • release tension in your neck, jaw and larynx and activate the muscles of your vocal apparatus: your voice becomes freer, more flexible and you reach higher notes;
  • reduce vocal noise, disturbances and fluctuations in the sound: The quality and stability of your sung sound, including your Vibratosare improving;
  • improve your resonance: your vowels will get a fuller sound, even your "singer's formant" will become louder;
  • prevent early vocal fatigue or vocal injuries that can occur when singing unprepared with high energy: this way you are well prepared to sing with full voice ("belten");
  • get you in the mood for your upcoming practice session or performance: your voice, body and mind are in an expectant state of anticipation for everything that is to come.

These are good reasons to always start your singing routine with warm-up exercises for your voice. Take time for them before a performance too. This will improve your vocal performance and keep your voice healthy.

How long?

How much time a singer takes for their warm-up can vary. It depends on the upcoming vocal workload, the singing experience and also the age of the singer. A country singer who sings in a speaking voice will need less time for a warm-up than a musical or soul singer. Anyone who sings in a high voice, uses a lot of lyric or head voice, for example, will need more vocalisation and register exercises to get their voice ready for a performance.

Take it easy and relaxed, with a quick run-through of your vocal functions. A warm-up should only prepare the voice, not pre-tire it, before the actual vocal exercises or performance begin. For vocal beginners, who tire their voices more quickly, a rather short warm-up of a few minutes is recommended.

Experienced singers often take around 10-15 minutes to warm up their voice before a performance. However, as they are more experienced and know exactly which exercises are important for them, they can also keep their warm-up time a little shorter. There is a rule of thumb: 5-10 minutes is a good time frame for a vocal warm-up.

Warm-up routine: Exercises

When you sing, your whole body is in action, from a firm, balanced stance to the flexible suspension of your larynx and expressive facial expressions. The best way to start your warm-up is with a Loosening and stretching your body.

Stretch out properly and let your head and shoulders circle. This will relieve tension in your neck and shoulders. Stroke your face and gently massage your cheeks and jaw muscles. Yawn and feel how the tension disappears from your facial features.

Your Breath carries the sound. Start by taking a few deep breaths, silently. Feel how your abdomen and chest expand as you inhale (feel free to place your hands on your flanks). Then consciously let your breath flow out slowly with a voiceless "f - f - f" or "s - s - s". Make sure you maintain your inhalation position for as long as possible: Only at the very end does the expansion of your chest collapse.

Place your Voice on the breath. Go up and down with lip bubbling or tongue R in smaller pitches. If this is more comfortable for you, humming with an "m" or a nasal "ng" (sirens) also works. Bubble or hum the notes quickly over your entire vocal range. This will free up your voice.

Then bring Fullness of sound in your Vowels. Sing "I - E - A - O - U" on the same note. Alternate the vowels too, for example with "I-E-I-E-I" on different pitches (1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1). Make sure that your vowels have a uniform resonance, without sudden drops in sound or unevenness in tone. Sing each vowel individually with a simple tone sequence up and down (1 - 3 - 5 - 3 - 1), gradually higher up to the head voice and back again.

Combine chest and head voice with Vocal Runs. Sing fast, wide-ranging chord steps up and down. Use an open vowel such as "A" or "O" (in "Song"). This makes your voice flexible and ready for more demanding solo parts. Take this sequence of steps, for example, which is a classic of early popular singing technique:

Start in your speaking voice and then repeat the sequence of steps higher up into your high head voice. Sing at a moderate volume and use your middle voice to switch between chest and head voice without an audible break.

The warm-up also includes Stretch and loosen the muscles of your tongue. Stick your tongue out over your lower lip and hold it there for a few moments. Or let your tongue roll in circles in front of your incisors with your mouth closed. A few times to the right, a few times to the left.

It's best to go for another Articulation exercise for your tongue. Open your mouth one finger wide and sing, for example, a brisk "gidde, gidde, gidde, gidde, gidde" (on the pitches 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1). Repeat this a few times, a little higher, a little lower.

More difficult, but with all the important Consonantsthe word "glockida" is just as fast, on the same pitch. Make sure that your chin remains motionless and relaxed when articulating. This prepares you for the use of your tongue for quickly sung song lyrics.

Now you are ready for your daily work on your vocal technique or for rehearsals with your band. Even more importantly, if you have a gig: You are ready for your performance.

Cool-down: benefits and exercises

And after singing? A big surprise from vocal pedagogy research is how much cool-downs can do for the voice. As with the warm-up, singers can learn something from athletes here. Cool-down exercises in sport return the body to a resting state after exertion, loosen the muscles and remove used substances.

Our tip is: Train your voice like an athleteeven when cooling down. The benefits are the same. Vocal cool-down exercises after a strenuous practice session or after a performance

  • regulate the high muscle tension in your voice and larynx: Your voice becomes deeper again and you return to a pleasant, relaxed tone when speaking;
  • set the repair processes in motion that restore your voice: Your voice recovers faster;
  • This means that the next day you need less air pressure from below to produce sounds: you feel a greater lightness when singing.

With a cool-down after singing, you will "come down" vocally again. Your entire vocal system relaxes in a beneficial way and gets back in tune with everyday life. But the most important thing for you as a singer is that your voice will be fresher and more powerful the next day than without a cool-down.

All you need to do to warm down is a few simple vocalises from your warm-up, with a light voice and gliding tones. Instead of using open vowels, use a small "U". Sing it headily and quietly in a pleasant chest to head voice, in flowing descents (for example in the pitches 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1).

Also repeat the small sirens with humming ("m") or lip bubbling. Glide with the Totals with a soft, gentle tone (without a "core") over small tone intervals (1 - 3 - 1). Gradually rise to the comfortable range of your head voice and then back down to your speaking voice range.

Yawn every now and then, preferably with your voice. When yawning, descend with a small vocalise (1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1) into the lower register of your voice. This relaxes the vocal chords and allows your voice to become deeper again.

The same effect has the Ratchets, also "vocal fry". You reach this series of unvoiced glottal stops when you reach the lower limit of your low vocal range. To finish your cool-down, creak a few times in succession for 5 seconds.


Warm-up and cool-down exercises for the voice are part of a smart daily singing routine. They make your voice fit, persistent and keep it healthy. Always take time for your warm-up: before strenuous vocal exercises, before a performance, whenever and wherever you sing.

And let your voice "come down" each time with a cool-down. This way, your singing will have the power you need the next day - for your audience and for yourself, so that singing is fun.

You can also find good exercises for warming up, breathing technique and changing registers in my online singing courses. Have a look at the courses I offer: https://singasong-behappy.de/online-gesangsunterricht/

Sing A Song - Be Happy

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