Covering All the Bases: 5 Essentials Elements of Warming Up

It’s pretty much known that I am a warm up freak. I love warming up.  I love finding new ways of warming up. I love getting other people to warm up, hence the development of the Being in Voice smartphone app.

warming up with bamboo poles

I have certain exercises that I use, from time to time, but really it’s important to warm up with exercises that fit the circumstances.  What works for you warming up at home by yourself for an audition might not work for a group warming up for an ensemble production. What works with one group might not work with another group.  It is important – nay essential! – to find a consensus within the group, so that everybody gets to own the warm up. Warming up is working, it should be enjoyable, something to look forward to.

getting the message across
getting the message across

Whatever you are warming up for, whether it’s for a day at the chalk-face or a 5 minute pitch presentation, an interview with the boss or a 3 hour Shakespeare performance, there are certain bases that must be covered:

1) stimulate blood flow to the muscles – the body’s core muscles plus all the large external muscles (arms and legs) and the minute and complex internal muscles of the vocal apparatus (including the articulators); challenge those muscles and the heart and lungs to function at a slightly more demanding level than normal, everyday resting state

2) open the mind’s attention to the actual physical state of the body, from the inside

3) generate freedom of movement throughout every joint in the body

3) open the mind and the ears to the potential of vocal sound throughout the whole body and flowing into the space

4) ensure the free flow of vibrations throughout the whole body and into the space – only possible when the body is warm, relaxed and alert

5 stretch and play with the full range of vocal sound – pitch, resonance, colour and articulation

5) bring the attention into clear focus.

And of course, if you are working with a group, you want to complete the warmup process with everybody clearly engaged with everybody else and ready to begin working straight away.

Did I leave anything out?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

You’ll find lots of exercises in the eBook “Four Great Vocal Warmups” – free if you register your email to receive notice of blog updates and an occasional newsletter.

What are your favourite warmup exercises?  Is there a difference between warming up and training?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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