Remember that your voice is a highly delicate, irreplaceable instrument. Proper care is needed so that fatigue, strain and, injury can be avoided.
Before you begin any of your practice sessions, it is strongly encouraged that you warm up your body in order to be effective and comfortable as possible, and get the blood flowing.
As you know, tension can be detrimental to your capacity to sing. Keep in mind just how many large and tiny muscles you are flexing, and the amount of energy it requires to engage all of those muscles while belting out your favorite tune!
Essentially we are creating muscle resistance, which in turn causes tension. It is, therefore, crucial to warm up those muscles and prepare them, as a long distance runner would before a run.
How? Simply by stretching and using vocal warm-up exercises, thus reducing stress, relaxing those muscles, in effect fine ‘tuning’ our body the way you would a guitar.
If the strings are too tight, the guitar will sound out of tune.
Not to mention over stressing the strings can cause them to break. Do you see the connection?
Here are 10 simple and fun stretches to get you warmed up and ready to howl the night away! There’s no doubt you’ll look and feel really silly, but these are highly effective.
Start with some full body stretches. Here are some examples to get you started: Chest Stretch: You can sit or stand.
Lace your fingers together behind your head or lower back. Inhale a deep breath in, and slowly exhale, while pressing your elbows behind you as far as you can, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Arch your back slightly to stretch out your chest, abs, and shoulders. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Exhale fully, relax and repeat.
> Neck Stretch:. Tilt your head to the left. Place your left hand on the top right side of your head. Take a breath, and as you exhale, gently press downward. To increase the stretch on your left side of your neck, drop the right shoulder to increase the distance between your left ear and your left shoulder. Don’t force it. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the right side
> Hip Stretch: Sit on the edge of a chair. Place your left ankle across your right knee. Then place your right hand on the top of the left knee. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, gently press the knee downward to stretch the outer left hip. Hold for 15-20 seconds, and repeat once on the other side.
> Lower Back Stretch: Lie down on your back. Keep your left leg straight on the floor. Bend and hold your right knee. Gently clasp the top of your right shin, below your knee, and slowly pull it towards your chest, hold 15-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. This will release tension in your lower back, hips, and glutes.
Once we have comfortably loosened up the larger muscles, we can begin to prepare the tinier muscles that will directly support our voice. Here they are in order:
> The Yawn: It’s fairly self-explanatory. Yawning, also known as ‘opening the throat’ will ease and relax your face and neck muscles, but more importantly, raise the soft pallet( the soft fleshy part at the top of your throat). This creates a vocal release in the throat lowering the tension and possibility of constricting. Caution: do not hyperventilate! Take full and deep yawns to be most effective. Try and stay awake!
> Jaw Stretch: These stretches supplement tyawningawn stretch, warming up and relaxing the same muscles. Move the bottom of your jaw up, down and side to side.
> Pucker Up: Your lips play a significant role towards your singing ability. Start by pretending to park a wet one on your significant other, so to speak. Then try sucking your lips in completely as possible – into your mouth. Believe it or not, there are 3 muscles groups that control lip movement, and this is how you stretch them. Have fun with that one!
> The Silly Smile: Hold your lips shut, then try slowly raising the corners of your mouth as much as possible. Viola! You look like an idiot!, but trying this a couple of times shows you’re a good sport!
> Eyebrow Lift: Part of relaxing that irresistible face of yours is to warm up the muscles in your eyes. Begin by raising and lowering your eyebrows. You will start to notice other muscles like your scalp, nose, and jaw.
> The Eye Roll: Yup, more eye stretches! Picture yourself in an aerobic class for your eye balls. Move them up and down, and up and down. Take your time. Too easy? You’re not allowed to move your head. Now, side to side, and side to side. Lastly, roll them round and round, and finished.
Were you one of the brave souls that, despite those humiliating poses, followed through?
If so, you should know that by doing these exercises, you can help relieve stress headaches, and may well slow down the sagging and wrinkling that comes with aging.
And…it only takes a couple of minutes a day! Well we’re all stretched and ready for the next step..voice exercises!