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Vocal Warm Up Techniques

Here are some video demonstrations of the most important vocal warm up techniques used by professional singers today. The humble ‘Humm’, the mighty ‘Lip roll’ and the dynamic ‘Tongue trill’. These techniques play absolutely vital rolls in any successful singers daily practice routine.

Humming

This may sound daft, but humming is one of the best ways to start your vocal warm up.

Humming is one of the easiest most stress free ways of singing and is an ideal first exercise to practice with your scales.

How to Hum

Place the tip of your tongue at the back of your bottom row of teeth. Do this as though you were at the dentist and were asked to open your mouth and say ‘Ahh’. Alternatively you could use the sound ‘Hee’.

Now relax and close your mouth, jaw and tongue.

Make the sound ‘NNNNnnnnnnn’ or ‘MMMmmmmmmm’ which ever feels best and achieves a fuller, deep warm tone to your voice.

You should find you feel a slight vibration or tingly feeling passing through your tongue, teeth and nose. If you feel this, then you’re doing it right.

The Lip Roll/Trill

This first vid explains how to do the lip roll or lip trill as it is also known. This one of the most important techniques in a singers warm up routine. The tutor in this vid uses it in her own unique way, but the actual trill or roll and the way she explains how to create the sound using her fingers on the side of her cheeks is really good. If you can master the roll, especially without the use of your fingers, then you can use this in many of your warm up routines as all the experts do.

Here is a sound vid from Seth Rigs giving more instruction on how to achieve the lip roll/trill.

This next vid is a tutorial from vocal coach Dylan giving more examples of how master the lip trill.

..and here’s part two.

Check out his other vids for more tips and techniques.

Tongue Trills

If you have trouble with lip rolls/trills, then tongue trills are another brilliant way of achieving the same results.

Here’s is an excerpt from Bret Manning’s brilliant Singing Success vocal tutorial cd, explaining the tongue trill technique.

and below is a sound byte vid from Seth Riggs speech level singing tutorials running through a tongue trill scale. From 1.58 onwards is a piano scale run through for you to try the tongue trill or lip roll your self.

Take a look at the Complete Vocal Workout page on this site for in depth tuition from Seth Riggs.

If you’re a guitarist and don’t happen to have a piano hanging around, I’ve posted a couple of rough vids especially designed for guitarists and vocalists which to enable you to warm up your fingers and vocals at the same time.

These are really useful and effectively kill two birds with one stone. I’ll update them and post better quality ones once I get round to it. Just take the ideas and expand on them with your own patterns and scales.

You don’t need to be a guitarist to do these exercises, just warm up your vocals and sing along with the scales as usual.

Vocal warm up scales for singers and guitarists

Breathing Exercises

Now we take a look at breathing exercises. Really we should have looked at this vid first as breathing is one of the most important aspects of singing, but as a singer who wants to get on and sing and forget the boring stuff, I thought I’d put it last.

Here’s a great video explaining the finer points involved in breathing technique.

It doesn’t matter how good your vocal range is, if you’re breathing technique is flawed, your singing will be sub standard.

Check out our vocal warm up lessons for our very own tutorials for guitarists and singers.

Other Posts of Interest

Complete Vocal Workout
Vocal Health
Vocal Warm Up Scales
Vocal Products

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41 comments to Vocal Warm Up Techniques : Humming, Lip Rolls, Lip Trills And Breathing Exercises

  • Shaba

    I am a very old singer who is so far out of practice I’m beyond rusty, however I have a dear old friend who is 68 and just survived a year of treatment of radiology and chemotherapy on his throat because of a cancer found on his larynx. He avoided having the larynx removed but now can only whisper. I remember many singers who had their larynx damaged from cold, virusus and just over doing the voice. They practiced specific scales and had certain rituals they did to regain their vocal quality and range, I need your help, I would like to help him find as much of his voice as he can manage so that his voice is heard once again. If you have any advice, tips or videos that I can Skype with him with, to help him practice until he regains some of his voice, I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you Shaba

  • Sounds like he is in a very delicate situation. You might take a look at the National institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders website and other similar sites to gain further information. There are links to organisations and lists of resources at the bottom of the page. You will have to be very careful not to damage his voice further by engaging in singing and vocal exercises too early on in his recovery, but if you are ready to give it a go you can check out my full vocal work out post. There’s a load of professional vocal lessons you can begin to work at.
    Hope that helps a bit.

  • caesar

    Ditto!

    Please check this article from maestro David Jones about recuperating damaged voices.
    In my humble opinion he is the one of the best vocal teachers ever. I’ve learned a lot from his articles, he employs the sweedish/italian school of trainning.
    Hopefully this helps you and your friend.
    Good luck.

    http://voiceteacher.com/damaged.html

  • Don’t forget hydration is crucial for the vocal chords, and it’s especially important when you’re recovering from
    an illness or injury. It will keep your pipes lubed and help you recover faster. If he is on medication, good hydration will help his body process the drugs more efficiently.

    For tips on singing and Voice Lessons check out http://www.vocalwarmup.co.uk‘s free eBook – 90 Days To Be A Better Singer.

  • denis

    Love the website! Can you please! please help? I am a semi-professional singer – mostly for fun and pocket money – but find the more I am singing the less I can get the soft female sounding head voice. I sing lots of Buble stuff but with a harder edge sound than the great guy. Its as though I’m pushing away my head to falsetto transition place (if I’m explaining it correct). Consequently, my head voice isn’t there anymore even though I can sing the higher range notes. Am I straining and if so are other more well known singers doing the same i.e. Tom Jones – even Elvis. You don’t hear them singing falsetto too much do you?
    Thanks again for a great website.
    Denis

  • Hi Denis, I try to sing across a range of vocals ranging from deep singers like Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Aaron Lewis – Staind etc. to artists like Matt Belamy from Muse with a lot of falsetto going on.
    I find that when I concentrate on either my high or low range vocals for a period of time and lapse from the other, I get very good at one and achieving the opposite becomes much more difficult.
    You have to either make sure you don’t neglect any of your potential range and increase your vocal practice time to include the high stuff, or just forget the falsetto and concentrate on your comfortable range as many artists do.
    I think although it is much harder and time consuming to keep up, all singers should try and achieve the ability to perform as well as they can at both ends of the scale.

  • Taylor

    i am only a kid but these videos are amazing, i think i am very good singer and desperate to be a solo singer when i grow up. i don’t go vocal lessons so this website helped me a great deal. i also write songs and would be amazed if someone would publish them. how do these popstars just pop out of the blue and become so big, how do they make it that far? take Justin Beiber for example, someone helped him publish a few hits andd suddenly he the star of the century. i’ll be checking this website for any more videos. please put some more on!

  • Hi Taylor,
    Reckon for most people you’ve got to have the skill and put in the effort, if you plug away for long enough you’ll eventually get there. Or you might just get lucky and be in the right place at the right time.
    It’s not always about skill and luck though, it’s often who you know and the people who surround you. Think about it and tip the odds in your favour. Move to where the action is and surround yourself with people who can make things happen, then you’ll have a fighting chance. Don’t leave it to fate.
    K

  • sian

    I love singing it is my favourite thing to do and I also love it because my boyfriend is a singer

  • Nice one Sian, you’ve got a built in duet there.

  • Reese's

    This is a great site! I hope to use these. I’m an 11 year old musician, and have decide since we can’t afford vocal training, I’ll look online and try to vocal train myself. I tried these excersises and I have a richer, stronger voice! Thanks!

  • Keep it up Reece, check out the vocal workout post
    http://www.streetmusician.co.uk/vocalworkout/
    Lots of good stuff there too.

  • Lozza

    umm. well need a warm up song for my choir any suggestions?

  • Hi Lozza, I wouldn’t know much about good warm up songs for a choir, but I’d make them do ‘humms’, then lip rolls or tongue trills, up and down some major scales for a few minutes. That should get them warmed up pretty well.

    Hope that helps.

  • Lozza

    thanks thats great

  • Holly

    I like the lip rolling it’s funny

  • Definitely, can be rather embarrassing too in public :-) The tongue trill can be achieved while still maintaining some sense of self respect.

  • dj klean

    hi, the lip roll and tongue tril are incredible!!!

  • Yup, they may look and sound stupid, but they do the job !

  • matt

    Hi,

    im just learning how to sing i knew when i was younger my voice wasnt that bad.
    now the years have past i want to learn how to sing good.
    i have tried singing to myself and some notes i can hit pretty well but apart from that i struggle as i feel the part from you’re normal voice to lifting it higher the inbetween bit or the bridge i believe you call it feels blocked, like i have to clear my throat doing that hut hum !

    can you give me any advice on what i have to do to make this better or is there nothing i can do ?

    thanks

  • randy

    I am a choir member in our church….. what are the tips in taking care of my voice?

  • Emeka

    I WANT TO INCREASE MY RANGE WHAT DO I DO

  • Daryian

    Hi I’m Daryian I use to be the lead in my church choir web I was little and then I stop singing for about 5-6 years I’m recently started again and notice I dint really sound the way I did any tips on how to re train your voice?? Greatly appreciated :)

  • maddi

    i was thinking of being a street preformer but im only nine i need ideas on how to warm up my vioce and i need ideas on songs becuse i dont know any mail :)

  • tanya

    hi there. i am english/indian and live in the uk. i would love to become a singer and actress and would love to know any places you can recommend to me for both these talents. im not a wealthy child but would love some opportunities. thanks for any help or advise given. (i’m 13 years old)

  • Lauren

    I am 11 and i have been singing since i was 3 years old and its a passion of mine. i also dance and act and i think that these warm ups are awesome

  • greg

    your shoulders will move with a natural breath, just not excessively. when you breathe in the air does actually go into the chest (where the lungs are), which causes the chest to expand. this will cause the shoulders to move. to resist this movement will actually be creating more tension.

    if you watch a baby breathe (as you referred to) you will see that the head lowers towards the chest slightly on inhalation, and then straightens up again as you breathe out. this was noted in alexander technique.

    the diaphragm is a muscle that is not controlled consciously, sort of like your heart. it moves of its own accord in response to the act of taking a breath. forget about the diaphragm and just open up your chest to take in your breath. the rest will happen by itself. the more you try to concentrate on controlling your diaphragm the more excess abdominal tension you create. you want the abdomen to be moving freely like a bellows, not tight and rigid.

    the best and easiest way to produce a natural breath is to get puffed out. go for a run around the block, or sprint on the spot for 30 seconds. when you stop, pay attention to your breathing. your whole upper body will be moving, chest heaving and shoulders moving along with it. try this and remember how it feels. this is what you are aiming for.

  • Liam

    Hi, I’ve been a singer for most of my 14 year life. I come from a mostly choral background, and I have worked my way into being one of the more prominent basses in my high school choir, and I am in all of the audition groups for my high school, so I would like to consider myself a pretty good male singer.

    Though, here’s the problem.

    Being a Bass Profundo classification is limiting when it comes to my true vocal passion, which is a more heavy grunge, post-grunge, alt-rock style than the choral style that I currently participate.

    So, I guess my questions would be:

    1. How do I ‘lose’ my falsetto, which I’ve never actually used much anyways, other than this one hilarious time in middle-school where I tried out for the descant and… Got it. As a bass.

    2. How do I maintain my low range. Being one of two or three of the singers who can actually hit that loooow low D flat, I would be proud to maintain that vocal ability for not only my choir’s sake but also for when I get into that Johnny Cash mood.

  • Debajyoti

    1.What is the humming time for better and fastest result, I mean morning-evening and how much time? (I surfing the net but can’t find it!)
    2.I wanna get detail of the exercises of Neck Lateral Resistance, Neck Rotational Resistance, Neck Forward Resistance, Neck Backward Resistance because I did not get it fully!!
    3. It’s will be more effective If I will do humming in the morning and just after that do the exercise ( I don’t know the name…-On your bed, lay vertically on your back with your
    head and shoulders hanging off the edge.
    • Tilt your head back and forth, up and down,
    tensing your neck muscles with each movement.
    • Hold your head in each position for 10 seconds,
    and slowly release your head back to its original
    position….) and the above exercises…
    4. And what is the time of the above exercises?

  • Monica

    Hello,
    I have a question. I have been singing for over 20 years but just recently I began getting a soar throat or discomfort in the larynx (voice box). I thought that I had cancer but it’s not that. Our new worship director likes to practice for a very long time and he loves high notes. I am an alto and can do soprano but I feel that I am not breathing appropriately or I am using the wrong muscles to keep up for 1 hour at a time. When I sing I tend to tighten my abdomen muscles, and I place stress in my neck muscles. Do you have any suggestions on DVDs that I can purchase that would help me?

  • Christiana

    Hi,
    I am a SUPER bad singer! This website helps me, but still, I cannot sing. I suck! I just can’t get the breathing right, I can’t get a pitch and I just sound tone deaf! Help!

  • Great site and really enjoyed the tips especially the lip roll for warming up. Just like any exercise you have to warm up your voice before using it. Taking care of your voice is crucial if you want to move forward on this goal.

    • Do not scream or yell

    •Make sure to drink at least 64 fluid ounces of water each day to keep your vocal chords properly hydrated

    •Avoid dairy products because they produce mucous which will make it hard to keep your throat clear and affect your voice quality

    See some great tips at the singing tips blog, personally recommended by Larissa Lamb singing expert and voice coach:

  • Havanahmason

    Thank you very much great and is its normal after to feel dizzy and Fante

  • Liam Hughes

    Hey Havanahmason. It’s definitely not normal to feel dizzy and to faint after warming up or singing. Try sitting down. If you’re standing while singing, try not to lock your knees. Also, if you can, wiggle your toes to keep blood flowing.

    Monica, you should be tensing your abdomen or diaphragm, yes, but you shouldn’t be tensing your neck. If you are that’s probably the source of your problems. I’m doing an hour and a half of choral singing every other day, and sometimes if my director doesn’t warm up us then my throat will be strained and in a little pain. Drink plenty of water and make sure to do warm ups. As for the breathing, extend your stomach when you breath, so breath in and expand your stomach. Don’t raise your shoulders.

    Christiana, try going to a vocal coach. You may have to pay some money just like any other music lessons, but that’s all I can really say. Focus focus focus on the notes you’re singing.

  • i love it
    i use it all the time before and after lessons

  • baiju

    hi, this is baiju ,am very interested in western singing so plz send me ur vidieos and ur theory to my mail plz ………….

  • Samantha

    Sir
    I am unable to do the tongue trills…sadly..
    So, is humming and lip trill enough for vocal warm-up? Are there any other exercises for warm-up?
    -Samantha

  • Hannah

    I love singing and this really helped me out when I was trying to write the rest on my song, thank you x

  • chloe garrrard

    this really helped me, i can sing really good now. i was on american idol

  • Matthew

    Hi ,

    I’m just 13 years old and I’ve been practicing singing since I was 8 years old ,, my parents told me that I was bad in singing but I couldn’t show them how pretty good I am .. I’m a boy and I can hit above middle c. And I’ve always wanted to have a singing teacher but I’m shy to my parents .. So since then ,I’ve been practicing all by myself . So I guess I need a little help from you about vocal warm ups ..

    Thanks,
    Matthew

  • hi, l am a free singer and i never do voice warm ups and it hurts my throat i need some help please? i love to sing and i sing everywhere and people say i am amazing! friday. october. 2013. at 5:35pm bye thanks,
    Cheyenne

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