Vocal Exercises – Improve Your Voice With These Vocal Exercises
By: Aaron Anastasi
Founder: www.HowToSing.com and The Singing Guide
I want to give you some great vocal exercises that would be a great, quick daily regimen—vocal exercises that will make your voice stronger, make your pitch better and help you reach your singing goals faster. In this article you will find the following:
- A short but important discussion on the voice and how it works
- The benefit of vocal exercises
- Two vocal exercises that will help you go further faster
Before I give you the details on these two vocal exercises, I want to give you the gift of motivation, which will come in the form of understanding the benefit of actually doing vocal exercises.
You and I have our favorite singers, ones we look up to and would like to, in some way, emulate. The problem is that we never see them doing vocal exercises and warm-ups, so we trick ourselves into believing that they don’t do them. And, if they don’t have to do them, then why should I, right?
The truth is that most good singers do vocal exercises all the time. More than likely, it’s part of their regular daily routine. And if you want to have a voice like theirs, it needs to be a regular part of your routine as well.
Your Voice and How it Works
Let me talk for a moment about your voice and how it works. This will give you some background as to why vocal exercises are more than a possible option but a true necessity if you want to be able to stay on key when you sing, sing without fatiguing your voice, and hit higher notes.
Okay, so let’s jump into some technical stuff for a second.
Sound comes out of your mouth when air comes up from your lungs, through your trachea (windpipe), into your larynx (your throat, basically) and through the glottis (the space between your two, rubber band-like, vocal chords). When the air strikes your vocal chords, they vibrate, and that’s where the sound is created.
Your larynx is basically your voice box; it contains and protects your vocal cords. To give you an idea of where your larynx is, your Adam’s apple, which is more prominent in a guy’s throat than a girl’s, is right at the center of your larynx. Your larynx houses your vocal cords, and those little suckers stretch and make different adjustments for every pitch and every note.
Now, hang with me for a couple more technical terms. I promise this is heading somewhere that will interest and benefit you.
Those two little vocal cords are stretched and held in tension, when you sing and speak, by two main muscle groups: the arytenoids muscles, which control your upper register, higher notes, and the thyroid muscles, which control your lower register, low notes. No matter what you are singing, your pitch is always held between these two muscles.
The Benefit of Vocal Exercises
So, let’s bring it back to the practical. If one of those muscles is weak, which they will be, of course, if they’re not warmed up and exercised regularly, then you will have a far greater chance of losing pitch. And your voice will more easily fatigue. The right vocal exercises are designed to keep these muscles strong and in shape so that they can do their job and you can sing with better pitch.
Another important factor, besides pitch, is hitting higher (and lower) notes with ease. The right kinds of vocal exercises will stretch your range so you can hit those notes that you want to hit but aren’t currently able to hit.
One more benefit of vocal exercises is smoothing out the breaks and transitions in your voice. These can be very annoying and create a pretty embarrassing situation when performing in front of a crowd. The ideal is to have one strong blended range that flows seamlessly between registers. This takes time and requires practice with vocal exercises, but it is possible, and it will give you a singing freedom like you’ve never known.
All right, I’ve blathered on long enough. You get the idea. Vocal exercises are extremely important—blah, blah, blah. Just like an athlete wouldn’t dream of refusing to exercise his/her body, the singer, likewise, needs to workout his/her body in order to keep it in shape to perform.
Vocal Exercise Regimen
If you have the time, I would recommend doing these two exercises alongside of some other vocal warm ups and exercises, but if you’ve only got a short time these two will get the job done by themselves if need be. I find that if I have a short routine, I will be more consistent about doing the exercises daily. And, once I begin doing them, I usually make time to work in the rest.
The first exercise I’m going to give you is designed as a warm up, and the second is to help you hit the notes in your different register and help expand your range
This is a closed-mouth exercise, which is the best way to start your vocal warm ups. Take in a nice breath through your nose and give out a “Hmmmmm”, as if you are contemplating something. Start in the middle of your range (about 50%, where 100% is your highest note), around the level of your talking voice, and let the note descend, but not too far. Stop the note before you get too close to your lowest note (about 20%, where 1% is your lowest note). Repeat this exercise five to ten times.
Rev Your Engine Exercise
This next exercise should always follow the one above. It has a warm up quality to it but is designed to strengthen your voice and expand your range.
For this one, you starting note should be around the same as you starting note for the Hmm exercise. We’ll call that your one (not 1%). From there you will climb up to your five, which should increase one key at a time like this: 1-2-3-4-5. Repeat that twice: 1-2-3-4-5—1-2-3-4-5, then add 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. So altogether you have:
Once you’ve done this run a couple of times, raise the first note one. So, for example, if your first note was a C, you would change it to D and do the run a couple more times through. If you’re feeling ambitious, and your voice will allow, try moving it up one more key (E, for example).
I hope you’ve found this article helpful.