I always like to remind singers that in order to optimize your warm-up routine, you must warm-up your entire body. Your body is your instrument, and the way you treat it has an impact on your breath, tone, and technique. The exercises below will help ease tension and allow for vocal freedom. Practice these exercises in front of a mirror and watch your posture!
Jaw & Tongue Stretch
The jaw and tongue are extremely important and often a source of major tension.
- Open your jaw is if you were yawning. Make sure you are dropping it towards your neck and chest, not forward. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Feel the stretch and hold for 5 seconds and gently close. Repeat 4-5 times.
- Allow your jaw to slightly open. Use 2 or 3 fingers to gently massage from the corner of your mouth back towards the ear in a circular motion. Continue for a few minutes until you feel a release of muscle tension.
- Once again, open your jaw as if you were yawning. Stick out your tongue as far as it will go and feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly allow your tongue to fall back into your mouth. Repeat 3-5 times.
Neck and Should Stretch
- Drop your chin to your chest as you slowly inhale. While exhaling, allow your head to drop a little further. Repeat several times until your neck will no longer extend forward. Hold and feel the stretch at the back of your neck muscles. Gently raise your head.
- Allow your right ear to drop to your right shoulder as you slowly inhale. While exhaling, allow your ear to drop further. Repeat several times and gently raise your head. Switch to your left ear and repeat the same steps.
- Drop your chin to your chest and gently roll your head slowly to the right and then to the left. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Gently roll your shoulders forward 10 times, then backward 10 times. When finished, make sure your shoulders and dropped and relaxed.
Middle and Lower Body
- Spread your feet shoulder length apart and bend over at the waist allowing your arms to hang down. Feel the stretch in the back of your thighs and focus on your breathing. This is a great position to feel expansion in your ribcage and back. Take 10 low breaths and slowly roll upright.
- Stand or sit tall and relaxed. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Slowly inhale and exhale, making sure the breath is low and supported. Relax and release any left-over tension.
- Gently shake out your entire body starting from your head all the way down to your toes. Allow your muscles to feel like Jell-o. When finished, stand tall and check your posture in the mirror. Do you feel more relaxed?
These few simple exercises are a great way to start your warm-up routine during a practice session, before an audition, or before a performance. Remember, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your voice will be.