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Do you do vocal warm-ups before you practice or sing?

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Vocal warm-up exercises are a great way to start your practice session or to prepare yourself before you sing.  They can help you get ready to sing by loosening up your vocal cords and getting you in the right frame of mind.


What warm-up exercises do you do before practicing or singing?

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Honestly, rarely. I know I should do them every time, but the warm ups I use are poorly remembered exercises from when I started singing as a kid and a few taught to me by my mother as I grew up. She was an opera singer so they were good exercises…. But they were old exercises based on old understanding and singing practices, largely for a singing style I don’t use.


Long story short, I believe I have more vocal training than most singer-songwriters, and a large chunk of experience, yet I would freely admit I could know more and would like to know more.


I would guess that most singer-songwriters rarely if ever practice their singing without also playing their instrument. More, I guess that few if any bother with warm up exercises. I’d be really interested to hear from my fellow singer-songwriters whether they agree or disagree with me, just because you’ve got me curious now! Lol





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On 6/10/2022 at 12:09 PM, Gtar Pkr said:

I don't actually consider what I do "singing"... So, no, I don't practice at all lol. Unless, cutting and pasting the best of three takes counts :)

So you're singing with each take and then editing.  How much editing is done choosing the best vocal track?


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On 6/11/2022 at 7:40 PM, eclecticnosepicker said:

When I'm tracking a song I do the backing vocals first, so I guess that's my warm up for sounding better on the lead take. Haha. I practice guitar way more than I do singing. What are your warm up suggestions, Peggy?

Does doing your backup  vocals help with your lead take?  And then are you satisfied with the backup vocals?   

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3 hours ago, Peggy said:

Does doing your backup  vocals help with your lead take?  And then are you satisfied with the backup vocals?   

My songwriting partner and I do the backing vocals together, at the same time, on one mic. I've found that two people singing together into the same mic makes the backing vocals sound WAY more full and lush than just one person doing all the singing, or two people doing the singing on different mics. I've read the same thing from a bunch of pro producers. Two voices into the same mic almost creates a new voice that's unique. We start with the low harmonies that are easy to sing, and that helps us warm us up. They're not the most prominent backing vocals in the mix, so if they're not absolutely dazzling it doesn't matter anyway. If they're not in tune or really crappy, then we scrap them right off the bat and just redo them immediately. We listen as we go, and if something's not up to snuff, we throw it out. Doing several tracks irons out any pitchiness, and we usually do several tracks to get a big sound. At the very least four for each part, because we want at least two tracks of the same part in each stereo channel. That really fills out the sound.


After having warmed up doing the low backing vocals for every section that needs them, we're usually in good voice to do the main backing vocals in the middle register. And after we finish that, we're definitely warmed up enough to do the lead vocal. The backing vocals help in warming me up for the lead take, and the backing vocals themselves are usually satisfactory because we started with the easiest part for us to sing.

Edited by eclecticnosepicker
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've never had the motivation/desire to practice singing, and my pre-recording 'warm up' is a once-through.


I am a quiet person.  I took up trombone and then clarinet in my 20's.   I got to a pleasing level with both but came to understand there was some sort of weakness in my throat ... almost like a valve popping when pressure got too high.  I gave up on both.  On the rare occasions I'd go to sporting events or pop concerts (lots of shouting), I'd lose my voice several days afterward.  Singing in public for three hours gigs also always took a serious toll.


So I've never had a strong/forceful voice and I've not performed in public now for at least 10 years. I never sing around the house.  I only sing when recording, and probably more so when developing a new song to ensure:

  • the melody gets nailed down and is within my limited vocal range (rather than humming, la-la-ing or playing an instrument)
  • that the rhythm/stresses of the words and syllables work with music
  • there are spaces to breath
  • the words feel comfortable when sung, and I can pronounce them clearly

I only sing on my own albums through sheer lack of alternatives (who else will do it?).  When recording:

  • I'll sing through the whole song once without recording to ensure I still remember it and can do it. The computer being on is like having a searchlight and guns trained on me!
  • That single run-through is fine for not wearing out my voice
  • I then track my vocal twice only, singing either:
    • all the way through
    • section by section or, occasionally,
    • phrase by phrase if difficult
    • if I can't do it in two takes, a hundred takes won't make a difference
  • I've never done more than one song vocal in a day.  There's always editing and mixing to do and I'm not recording full time anyway.  The gap of 1-5 days really helps preserve what little vocal strength I have.

Comping from just two performances is relatively easy.  In the early days I tried comping from five of six takes but the permutations of listening/re-listening was time consuming ... and frustrating ... especially when I still can't nail it ... so why bother?  By contrast, judicious use of manual editing with autotune is effective and quick. 


The downside is that I don't (and can't) sing with passion, and there is little light/shade or sizzle in my delivery.

The upside is that I get things done.  I'm a harsh critic, so when I stop wincing at my own vocal performance, I believe that 'good enough is good enough'.   And I probably concentrate more on arrangement/production to compensate.  





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  • 6 months later...

I never did with my covers band, because that was what the first song was for. We'd start kinda gently, with nothing that pushed my voice. I was also able to hit higher notes more comfortably later in the set - I could get an extra 2-3 semitones and it must've helped the lower notes as well. When I was recording, I'd do a few run-throughs to warm up. I saw it like a Marshall valve amp, which I played with - anybody who's let one warm up knows the difference.

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  • Editors


23 hours ago, Glammerocity said:

We'd start kinda gently, with nothing that pushed my voice. I was also able to hit higher notes more comfortably later in the set - I could get an extra 2-3 semitones and it must've helped the lower notes as well.


It's insane how much a few simple gentle exercises can do to help keep that voice accessible and agile. One of my favourites is making a siren sound starting from your low range at medium soft volume and going up higher without pushing or making the higher notes any louder than the lower ones. So, sirens that are relaxed and natural in the low range and going to a light hooty high range.


Simply doing this a few times in the morning does a GREAT deal in opening my voice up. It also reminds my body not to push while singing higher notes later in the day. 


The thing about exercises are that you need repetition for it to have maximum effect. That's the key - to keep it as a regular part of your life regardless of what that exercise is. As long as you know you're doing it right and not introducing any bad habits which is easy to detect since the body makes it obvious by introducing some tension/resistance/rigidity into the experience. Research says that the "memory"/effectiveness of your vocal practice lasts up to just 3 days before quickly fading unless reminded again with more mindful practice. So it can be useful to build a small, simple but regular warm-up routine than a long, complex irregular one. 

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