5 Reasons You Need a Warmup Routine

Five Reasons YOU Need a Warmup Routine
1. Singers are athletes.

ath•lete (noun): a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength

In the same way a runner shouldn’t start a 5-mile run without doing some stretches, singers shouldn’t begin challenging or unfamiliar vocal work without warming up. Sure, there are some runners who just head out the door and start jogging, but they open themselves up to injury. An injury that might keep them from running. (You see where I’m going with this, right?)

Warmups prepare the muscles we use in singing to do their jobs. They help get the vocal folds connected and coordinated, your head and body resonating, and the breath mechanism awake and functioning.
Warmups = good.

miniature metal piano figurine2. Singers are not pianos.

Your voice is an organic instrument, housed in a constantly changing organism (your body), so your voice is different every day. We don’t hit a key to make a note come out. We have to get “reacquainted” with our instrument each time we use it. Warmup exercises help us take stock of our voices.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you went out to see your favorite artist or sports event last night. In expressing your ethusiasm *smile*, you overused your voice.

A little time spent warming up the next day lets you know if today is the day to practice that killer piece, work on a simpler song or rest your voice altogether.

3. Warmup routines save time.

alarm clockI discovered when working with my singing group and other choirs that using a warmup routine regularly ended up saving us time. Taking just 10-15 minutes of your regular rehearsal time to get your singers familiar with a series of exercises is a time investment worth making.

Your group only has 15 minutes together to get ready to go on stage? No problem, everyone knows the exercises and you just run through them, one after the other, lickety split. You don’t have to spend time figuring out what you should do to warm up. (Besides, they have all warmed up on their own already, right? See #5.)

As an added bonus, in addition to getting folks ready to sing, a warmup routine helps group members to get centered, listen and blend.

4. Use warmups to combat “pre-performance energy.”

girl screaming with her hair blown sideways by the wind

Now, your warmups probably can’t make this energy go way entirely, but they can help you manage it.

Generally, you sing your warmup routine in non-performance, low-anxiety situations. This is important. In addition to warming up the vocal and breath mechanisms, by using a warmup routine regularly, you are creating a familiar and meditative state for your mind and body.

When you start into your warmup routine before a gig, you mind and body say “Hey, I know this. This is nothing to worry about!” (Or at least, “Okay, I know how to do this.”)

You can take this a step further. Try including a visualization or relaxation exercise at the top of your warmp up routine. (I recommend somthing that uses the breath and gets you grounded in your body.)

My friend Bruce Henry says that he visualizes a performance before going on stage to sing. Maybe you’ll head to a tropical island and listen to the waves lapping the shore.

Whatever it is, practice it. In the same way you practice your vocal exercises, you can practice finding a focused and grounded state before you sing.

5. Warmups put YOU in charge.

statue of man holding keyHas this happened to you? Your band, group or choir is gathering before a performance. Someone is late, or the sound system isn’t working, or the lineup has changed or … . It is chaotic and a lot energy is flying around. Oh, and it’s loud.

All the other instruments are warming up, but not you. Why not?

If you are relying on someone else to get you ready to sing (or to give you permission to warm up), then you are not in charge of your preparation. And when you don’t take charge of getting your voice ready, you WILL have times when you won’t sing as well as you could have. (Sorry.)

Take charge of yourself and your instrument. Warm up at home (or at least away from the energy vortex that is backstage before a performance! *smile*).

You can warm up in the morning for a gig in the afternoon or evening. Our voices don’t care when we warm up, just that we do. (Exception: If you take a nap after doing your warmups, you should warm up again before singing.)

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