Daily Vocal Exercise


Getting started with a daily vocal routine can be a daunting task as there are so many aspects to the voice that need your attention. Even though it’s good to generally sing and flex your vocal cords the important thing to remember is that when you warm up, you should be aiming for GOOD LEVELS OF CONNECTION as well as exercising your voice in the correct way; remembering that the voice has a MEMORY and will remember the good and bad habits you develop.

The vocal cords are two delicate bands of white tissue that are attached to the THYROID and the ARYTENOID CARTILAGES in the LARYNX. They are manipulated and controlled by the vocal muscles surrounding them during complex muscular movement.

When we sing low notes, the vocal cords become SHORT and FAT and when we sing high notes they become THINNER and STRETCHED out: imagine stretching an elastic band and you’ll get the picture. Apply this image to the vocal cords for a second; if we begin to sing (particularly in head voice) without warming up then we can experience BREAKS/CRACKS in the voice. This occurs when your vocal muscles are essentially EITHER TIGHT OR ASLEEP, which encourages your cords to separate or ‘Abduct’ and pull away from each other; causing a brief DISCONNECTION in the voice.

Loosening up and stretching out your vocal muscles should be a main focus when warming the voice. For more information on warm-up routines and exercises please visit the website’s (www.daniel-tompkins.com) core content.

The first few things to consider when developing a routine:

  1. WHEN SHOULD I WARM UP?– You should always warm up before a period of singing. You can warm yourself up any time of the day but be mindful of trying to sing when you are tired. From any given point of waking up from a period of sleep, hydrate and give your body a good 60 minutes before warming up. If you perform a vocal warm up in the morning and nap in the middle of day, then you will need to warm up again. When you sleep, your brain shuts down and your muscles become disconnected – a vocal warm up increases brain to vocal cord co-ordination.
  2. HOW LONG DO I WARM UP FOR? As a beginner you should be mindful of vocal overuse but generally speaking, 15-20 minutes is a good place to start. The more experienced singer you become, the more you may be able and wish to sing for without causing vocal constriction or ‘tightenting’ of the vocal muscles. Methodically, sing through simple scales in a comfortable manner, concentrating on the accuracy of pitch and the smoothness of tone. Make sure to navigate your way through all the registers of your voice (Fry, Chest, Mix, Head, Falsetto) but primarily chest and head. Feel where breaks occur and listen out for any harsh tones or ‘honk’ in the voice and try singing around these problem areas with as little tension as possible. When you begin to feel a good sense of connection and elements of freedom in the voice then spend 10-15 minutes singing through comfortable songs. Your development as a singer and day to day consisitency will dictate the length of your warm ups.
  3. WHEN DO I STOP WARMING UP? – We need to be careful not to abuse the voice or overuse it. Pay attention to the sound of your voice and the way it may change and feel after singing for long periods of time. Without a break, I would personally consider a 1 hour period of constant singing a long period of time! Don’t over do it and make sure you give your vocal muscles enough time to rest and grow. This is why we shouldn’t train EVERY single day. In essence your musles need respite. One thing to remember is that after your period of singing, you must also gently warm the vocal muscles down. You can find more information about this within the core content of my website.