Exercises

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Why do I need to practise scales n stuff?
A singer is like an athlete who gradually trains their body until it reaches the peak of its operating ability. Like any other muscle in body, the vocal chords need to be warmed up with exercises before asking them to perform. Although you may have been singing since you were small, it is important that you learn to sing in a healthy manner that builds up the muscles slowly and prevents damage to the voice.

The vocal chords (also known as vocal folds) are small thin muscles that vibrate when air passes through them. The vibration ranges from fast to slow and the more 'elastic' they become, the easier it is for the notes to be produced. The singer learns how to control their breathing and uses vocal exercises, scales and vocalise which help to develop flexibility in the vocal chords.

How long should I practise for?
That depends on the level of experience and amount of training that the singer has. For a complete beginner no more than 20 minutes a day including warm up, rests, vocalisation and cool down. The amount of practise time should be gradually increased over a period of months according to your singing teachers instructions.

Advanced singers can practise for a lot longer with practice sessions broken down into 15 - 20 minute slots of warm up, vocalisation, rest, repertoire, rest, advanced repertoire and cool down.

I've heard you can practise for hours?
It is not advisable to sing for long periods of time without a lot of training! You would not expect to run a marathon without training slowly and regularly over a long period of time. The vocal mechanism is like any other group of muscles and requires the same type of gradual development. It should also be noted that even professional singers use their practice periods to do other types of training! As well as vocalising, a singer should use their rehearsals to learn lyrics, learn music, study techniques, observe recorded performances and utilise their time between singing rather than sing continuously for long periods of time which may strain their precious voices!

Do you have any tips?
Never sing or vocalise if you are ill or suffering with a sore throat. If your voice starts to feel hoarse or sore during your practise session STOP singing immediately and completely rest the voice. When your voice has fully recuperated, review your vocal technique, start with gentle humming and cut down the length of practise time until you can consult your teacher. If the problem persists, do not sing - visit your doctor.

Vocal strain can be caused by speaking, whispering or yelling too much or by trying to 'over reach' the voice.

Eat a light meal at least 2 - 3 hours before you start, allow plenty of time for the food to digest.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol or acidic drinks like orange before you sing as these can cause drying or excess phlem in some people. Drink between 8 - 9 pints water a day and keep a supply of water to hand during your practise period.

Limber up the body by using gentle exercises first.

Warm up the voice with a few scales or other vocal exercises throughout your range to help slowly develop the muscles.

Take a break, drink some water and rest the voice completely.

Choose an easy song to start your repertoire practise and gradually increase the difficulty. Click Here to practice to songs online (requires realplayer).

Take another break, more water & rest the voice before working on the most demanding songs

Repeat the vocalisation exercises to cool down.

Repeat the relaxation exercises and spend five minutes relaxing completely to end the practise session.

In all cases the practise sessions need to be modified if you have a performance and at least one day a week should be spent resting the voice - NO Singing!

Warm Up Books
In Association with MusicRoom

The following are a small selection from the many available in the Books for Singers section which contains eductional, instructional, repertoire, diction, language and marketing books for singers and musicians.

Singing In Tune
Strategies and solutions for conductors, conductors-in-training, and voice teachers. This book from Nancy Telfer will give you and your choir a firm and extensive grounding in real-life choral experiences and lots of fun in learning. A useful text that can be useful with beginners or experienced sight-singers who need a review.

Successful Warm-Ups Book 1 - Vocal Edition
Perfect for choirs and choral classes, this series provides a detailed plan for implementing a comprehensive programme of vocal production through warm-ups. The purpose of each practical warm-up piece is clearly identified, with tips to help singers make the most of each warm-up. Further information is given in the Conductor's Edition, together with weekly plans and a diagnostic chart.

Successful Warm-Ups Book 1 - Conductors Edition
Perfect for choirs and choral classes, this series provides a detailed plan for implementing a comprehensive programme of vocal production through warm-ups. The purpose of each practical warm-up piece is clearly identified, with tips to help singers make the most of each warm-up. Further information is given in the Conductor's Edition, together with weekly plans and a diagnostic chart.

Successful Warm-Ups Book 2 - Vocal Edition
Perfect for choirs and choral classes, this series provides a detailed plan for implementing a comprehensive programme of vocal production through warm-ups. The purpose of each practical warm-up piece is clearly identified, with tips to help singers make the most of each warm-up. Further information is given in the Conductor's Edition, together with weekly plans and a diagnostic chart.

Successful Warm-Ups Book 2 - Conductors Edition
Perfect for choirs and choral classes, this series provides a detailed plan for implementing a comprehensive programme of vocal production through warm-ups. The purpose of each practical warm-up piece is clearly identified, with tips to help singers make the most of each warm-up. Further information is given in the Conductor's Edition, together with weekly plans and a diagnostic chart.

Mike Brewer's Warm-ups!
This is an indispensable handbook for singers and choral directors. Warm-ups are a series of activities that get the body and brain into gear, reinforce healthy and effective singing practice and are above all - fun!

Warm-Ups And Work-Outs For The Developing Choir Volume 1
This book aims to give amateur conductors a brief guide to vocal exercises which work to specific purposes.

Warm-Ups And Work-Outs For The Developing Choir Volume 2
This book aims to give amateur choral conductors and singers a second brief guide to vocal exercises which work to specific purposes.

Warm-ups For Pop Jazz And Show Choirs (Book)
Warming up your choir has never been this much fun! These 18 educational exercises are written in a variety of styles based on American popular music, including Swing, Rock, Latin and Cajun.

Warm-ups For Pop Jazz And Show Choirs (CD)
Warming up your choir has never been this much fun! These 18 educational exercises are written in a variety of styles based on American popular music, including Swing, Rock, Latin and Cajun.

Also Read
Art of the Singer
Performance Power
Preparing for the Stage
Ready Set Perform
Vocal Group Practise
Practice Songs Online with the streaming karaoke players!

Related Article Links

These are just a small example of the extensive links to online exercises and lessons we have available in the Singers Articles sections, which contain complete listings of lessons, exercises or articles available on each site with direct links to the page (when not a framed site) plus answers to pretty much everything a beginner, intermediate, advanced singer or teacher needs to know! (All links below open in a new window).

Etude for the scale of all majors
Practice singing major scale with midi backing online.

How To Practice - Podcasts
Selection of informative podcasts on practicing provided by DictionHelper include: Important Distinctions, The Learning Process and Creative Practicing with further sections available soon.

How To Warm Up
Online tips and advice on warming up the voice by Kristina.

Practicing Tuition Tips
Advice on practicing singing for singers provided by Vocal-Tech.

Vocal Warm-up
.pdf format [adobe acrobat reader required]. This article by singer and voice teacher Gilles Denizot provides a useful checklist for singers with further suggested articles available at his site.

Tips For Effective Rehearsing
Advice on rehearsing for singers by Kristina.

Why do Vocal Warmups
Explanation plus warm up and warm down procedure from Sing Out Seattle which also contains articles on caring and maintaining your voice and choral survival tips.