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Jeannie Deva Vocal Warm-upsBy Jeannie Deva

Rock singers and musicians are part of a special non-conformist rebel clan. Sounding raw, powerful and natural are valued and important attributes. Yet, in aspiring to achieve these qualities we create and are daunted by our own nemesis. And then there are music theater performers who belt sing and have prolonged periods of full voice singing which can also lead to the Frankenstein monster of “Vocal Blow-Out.”

Many years ago while living and performing in Boston, the challenges of these styles of singing motivated my extensive research to discover ways to be able to sing hard without blowing out the voice. One of the discoveries I made: The foundation of vocal strength, flexibility, stamina, and power lies in a correct vocal warm-up.

Singer’s Marathon 

To understand why a vocal warm-up is important; let's take a look at certain realities of muscles. The sounds of your voice are created by small internal muscle movements. In fact, your vocal folds (often inaccurately called “vocal cords”) are muscles which lie horizontally in the front of your throat, just behind your Adam’s apple.

If you decided to run a marathon without any preparatory conditioning, how long would you last? You might do alright for the first mile, but what about the second, fifth or tenth? You probably would not make it that far, but even if you did, your muscles would ache and you would be straining and panting for breath. 

Singers do this with their voices all the time. Not properly prepared and developed, the muscles can’t perform the needed functions so the singer strains and pushes. A full-out vocal performance is the singer’s “marathon” for which preparation is simply practical. 

Songs are always much easier to perform and often more powerful when using a voice brought to life by exercises that stimulate its natural functionality. Once limbered, the muscles are awake and ready to perform the functions you need and that are within their native capability.

In further posts about this I will give you specific warm-ups, but in the meantime, be sure to do warm-ups before singing. If you don’t know any warm-ups, you can find some in the free lessons section of my website.

Comments

  1. Anthony on June 9, 2014 at 7:32 PM said:
    Hi, I find that humming simple melodies while driving to my gigs helps me warm-up. Does that sound okay to you, Jeannie?
  2. Jeannie Deva on June 9, 2014 at 7:55 PM said:
    Hi Anthony, Yes that's a great warm-up. You'll get the most out of it if, when you hum, you keep your lips lightly placed together (don't tighten or press them) and think the "mm" NOT hmm = no "h". Keep your volume low. Let me know how it goes.
  3. Zara on June 10, 2014 at 5:01 AM said:
    I agree that humming is a great start to any warm-up but surely the warm-up has to work up to being more rigorous if the singing is going to be? I'd have thought that humming before rock singing was about as useful as tapping your foot before running a marathon.
  4. Anthony on June 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM said:
    I do other warm-ups when I can, but the humming is better than nothing if I'm in a rush. The vibrations from 10 minutes of humming relax the muscles in my mouth and throat.
  5. Jeannie Deva on June 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM said:
    Humming would be a first step in a warm-up. I have created many more warm-up exercises that prepare the voice for a full-out vocal performance.I'll cover them in future posts and vocal tips. Zara -what kind of warm-ups do you do?
  6. Kim on June 10, 2014 at 8:42 PM said:
    Jeanne, I purchased your Vocal Warm Ups and Cool downs about 5-6 years ago and still use it exclusively for my warm up routine. I love what the La-ga series does for me and the gentle, limited range N and NG slides. I am a private music teacher and I use these warm ups as a basis for vocal preparation with my students too. I'm not a rock singer, more classical and musical theater. You help keep my voice healthy! thank you~
  7. Carol on June 16, 2014 at 7:41 AM said:
    I've been using you vocal warm ups CD for 5-6 years...nothing's better. I warm up up at home then on the way to a gig. Hot water with apple cider vinegar gargle helps with allergies.
  8. Jeannie Deva on June 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM said:
    Kim, I'm so glad that my materials are helping you and your students. Thank you for sharing that.
  9. Jeannie Deva on June 16, 2014 at 12:51 PM said:
    Carol, Thanks for the shout out on my vocal warm-ups and for sharing your allergy remedy.
  10. Marilyn Middleton Mellor on June 17, 2014 at 2:37 AM said:
    I have been teaching for 15 years. I am a former rock/jazz/folk singer. I came across your warm-ups almost immediately after you put them on the web and I still use them for my students. they are still the best! I use them myself before a gig and make sure all my students learn to use them properly. They work wonders. I am constantly learning and you help a lot. Not every student can learn the same way so I create exercises as well as use others I was taught. You are an inspiration and have helped myself and my students for years. Thank you.
  11. Jeannie Deva on June 17, 2014 at 12:24 PM said:
    Marilyn, Wow, you made my day. I admire your devotion to helping your students. Thank you.
  12. David on August 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM said:
    Thanks for your great warm-ups, cool down cd. I am 54 years old and live down under in Australia, not exactly the singing hub of the world but thanks to all of your instructional material I now have a vocal range that is unbelievable. I can easily sing Franki Valli style falsetto. My first passagio in regular head voice is now at A above middle C and I can fool people that I am a soprano when I hit notes like soprano C two octaves above middle C without tension. I could not have achieved these results without your techniques. it all goes to show that age is no barrier to learn and develop, Thanks again- love reading your books
  13. Jeannie Deva on August 18, 2014 at 9:01 PM said:
    Hello David! Wow. This is such great news about your fantastic improvements and results with my method and materials. I am so very pleased to hear from you and cheer you on!
  14. Andrea on July 18, 2018 at 6:52 PM said:
    I would like to know what exercises are in the warm ups. I don't like buying sight unseen.
  15. Studio Staff on July 19, 2018 at 3:59 PM said:
    Dear Andrea, You can see a description of several of the warm-ups at: http://www.jeanniedeva.com/page/757479 and hear a couple of audio samples at http://www.jeanniedeva.com/page/171141
  16. Devi Shammuramat on September 20, 2018 at 11:46 AM said:
    Have been re-reading the course materials, for first time since beginning Contemporary Vocalist Course [end of 2013]. Had been meaning to for quite a while; but reason I could Not sooner: perhaps best to refrain from even going into. (Tho to keep the answer brief [for benefit of the over-curious among you]; I think was due to psychic Muslims: who are known to be vehemently opposed towards Western ideas). Anyway. Am I correct in my interpretation, where it seems that old veterans of these exercise CDs [Contemporary Vocalist Courses I & II]; can get away with just a quick warm-up (as given in the materials, similar to the ones found on Warm-ups CD): before simply practising some songs ? [Note: I play my own music, so will also be playing musical instrument while singing]. These only take about 20 mins, and would therefore be less exhausting than doing a full CD. However, I find that doing a full CD [chosen from the courses: treating first three exercises as 'warm-up'; then first one repeated at the end, as cool-down]; will be better if I am planning to record / perform.
  17. Studio Staff on September 21, 2018 at 1:52 PM said:
    You can adjust your warm-up routine to your needs on any given day. Usually, a 10 to 20-minute warm-up is adequate in most cases. Some of the exercises in Contemporary Vocalist can be used as warm-ups.
  18. Devi Shammuramat on September 21, 2018 at 2:15 PM said:
    I also find that I will have to start getting into full [approximately 1hr long]; vocal exercises from course CDs: every day, from two days prior to any outing or appointments (as well as on the day of). Otherwise, I fear that my voice will be lacking in resonance.
  19. Studio Staff on September 21, 2018 at 10:24 PM said:
    Yes, do the vocal exercises at a different time of day so that there is a rest period before doing the warm-ups, which should be done close to the time of performing.
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