Vocal Warm Ups for Vloggers and Speakers
Vocal warm ups will help you speak more effectively and maintain good vocal health.
Before you go on a run, you stretch your leg muscles to avoid cramping. Your voice is no different. For the purpose of simplicity, we are only going to focus on breathing and articulation. Articulation is having good diction. Every sound in every word should be crystal clear. We will not cover resonator warm ups or body warm ups. I will save those for a later post. Breathing and articulation are more important because everything is controlled breath. Controlled breathing helps you relax and feel more confident. Breath control also helps create better articulation. If you don’t articulate, you will not be understood.
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How The Voice Works
The human voice is created when air from the lungs passes over the vocal cords, causing them to them to vibrate. The vibration from the vocal cords generates sounds which echo through a series of resonating chambers located around the nose and forehead. The sound is controlled by the diaphragm (a muscle just under lungs which controls how much air is accepted and expelled), and by various muscles in your face, mouth, and throat. These muscles are what the sound into words.
Warming Up The Lungs
Vocal warm ups are best done either stand or sit up straight. Slouching constricts your diaphragm. Start by relaxing your neck, shoulders and back.
Place your hand on your stomach, just above your belly button. Breathe normally for a minute. If you don’t feel your stomach pushing your hand out and back, then you are breathing in correctly. You might notice your shoulders rising when you take in air. Your shoulders should remain still. Try relaxing your ab muscles and allow each breath you take in to push out your hand.
Now, take in air for 8 counts, filling them to capacity. Then, release the air for 8 counts on an open AH sound (like a sigh), completely emptying your lungs. You want to take the whole 8 counts to fill up and release. It may take you a couple of times to get the timing down.
Once you have the timing, repeat this three more times. Remember: Your lungs should be completely depleted of air at the end of each release count. If you feel light headed, sit down! Also, coughing is normal if you’ve never breathed this deeply before.
Next, you are going to vary up the counts:
- Take in air for 8 counts – release for 12 counts
- Take in for 4, release for 16
- Take in for 2, release for 20 (or as long as you can before completely depleted of air)
Now, the reverse:
- Take in for 8, release for 8
- Take in for 8, release for 4
- Take in for 8, release for 2
Warming Up Your Articulators
Speaking tongue twisters during vocal warm ups helps to work out your articulators. Articulators are what shapes sound into words. Your primary articulators are the lips, teeth and tongue. The shape of your lips and position of the tongue create the vowel sounds. The tip of your tongue and front teeth create most consonants. Some consonants are created just with the teeth and lips.
Here is a fun little tongue twister:
“Diction is done with the lips, the teeth, and the tongue.”
I like this tongue twister because you are actually saying the parts of the mouth that makes for good diction.
Here are some more fun tongue twisters. They start out easy and get increasingly more difficult.
- The big black bug bit the big black bear and the big black bear bled blood.
- Willy’s real rear wheel.
- The tutor who tooted the toot, tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
- Irish wristwatch.
Each of the these twisters present their own challenges. The challenge in number 1 is making sure to pronounce the last letter of every word. In number 2, it’s jumping back and forth between R and L sounds. Number 3, the challenge is differentiating between tooter and tutor. And, number 4, going back and forth between the R and Sh/Ch sounds.
One trick is to say these tongue twisters while holding a wine cork between your front top and bottom teeth. Doing this will force you to over-pronounce every consonant and every syllable. When you remove the cork, you’ll notice more clarity in your speech.
Remember, when saying these tongue twister, it’s not about speed! It doesn’t matter how fast you them. What matters is how clearly you say them.
There are many other types of vocal warm ups. One good book on the subject is Freeing The Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater. You don’t want to over do it. Again, with vocal warm ups, like with athletic warm ups, it is very possible to over exert yourself when warming up vocally.
Did this article help you? Did you notice a difference after the warm-ups?