How Long, And What, To Warm Up
Warm ups are absolutely vital. No strenuous activity should be performed without having warmed up. Whether you are a runner, swimmer, dancer or singer. All involve strenuous activity, and all should begin with warming up.
With singing, while warm up exercises definitely include vocal warm up exercises, scales, etc., it also includes warming up the whole body. Singing is a whole body event, and more specifically the body from the waist up.
So, exercises should start with some type of motion that targets the torso, the abdominal wall and the neck. Certainly the shoulders are a part of the singing event as well.
Once doing a few minutes of physical exercise, a regimen of specifically vocal warm up exercises should be done. A good regimen includes a variety of different exercises and different techniques, working out range as well as register blending, agility, resonance balancing and sostenuto (sustained).
Warming up should be done daily. Beginners may find that their voice feels fatigued after ten to twenty minutes. That’s fine. That is plenty of time at first. More advanced singers, hoping to do a complete range of all technical work, may warm up for closer to thirty minutes (this usually includes their strengthening exercises). After a while, you can perfect a vocal routine that is just a few minutes a day.
A good vocal warm up only needs to be done once in a day and should last the remainder of the day. But that doesn’t necessarily account for vocal strengthening exercises for technical work in developing the voice further.
While lighter voices, whether male or female, don’t usually need to warm up for very long, females in general usually don’t need to warm up for as long as males. Because the male voice has such a wide range in the chest voice, whereas the female voice switches over the head voice much sooner, increased energy is used and needed for the male voice in the pitches above middle range. There should be plenty of warm up done in the chest register, for the male, before asking the voice to do the work in the higher ranges.
Warm up time will decrease as your technique gets better. And this is good because too much vocal warm up before a performance will tire the voice, and it will lose some of its shine.
Best of luck to you!