4 Powerful warmup techniques that can transform your singing
Posted by Pratibha Sarathy on 10 Oct 2016
I often emphasize the importance of warming up the voice before singing in order to avoid vocal strain and enhance your voice quality. Here are 4 powerful warm up techniques which can dramatically change the way you sound. These techniques should be learnt under professional supervision.
1. Sa practice - The importance of practising 'Sa' is often underestimated. Singers in the early stages of learning find it hard to hit the right notes even though they are aware of the tune. This often happens because our root note (Sa) is not well established in our minds. Since all other notes are relative to Sa, a wrong or unstable 'Sa' can throw all the other notes off track. Singing 'Sa' with the tanpura for atleast 5 minutes a day will strengthen your frame of reference and help you improve your overall pitching. This should be done before one starts singing.
2. Humming - You may wonder how something as simple as humming can help warmup the voice. Well,this seemingly easy warmup needs to be done very carefully. Singers often use their throat muscles too much while humming leading to a strained sound. To do it the right way, try saying 'Hmmmm?' like you're asking a question. Feel the vibrations resonating in cavities higher than your throat. As your pitch goes higher, you may feel a buzzing sensation in your nasal area, which gradually progresses towards your head. There are various vocal exercises using the humming technique that serve as a great warmup routine.
3. Omkar - Probably one of the most powerful warm up techniques, Omkar for singers is quite different from Omkar for yoga and meditation. Omkar for singers uses various techniques that prepare your voice and body for a rigorous singing routine. Omkar practice helps establish vocal stability. Staying on a single note for a long time would improve your voice control and help you realise the flaws in the voice which we often tend to ignore while singing faster vocal exercises. Omkar helps you span your vocal range in a strain-free manner when done the right way. Omkar also provides mental peace which is crucial for a singer. Remember that you need a calm mind to be able to sing effortlessly.
4. Lip Rolls This is one of my favourite warmups which would change the way you look at your voice. This is actively practiced in western styles of music but is applicable and useful to singers of any genre of music. In this exercise you vibrate your lips constantly to produce a brbrbrbr sound and sing it progressively on all notes of the scale. This warmup relieves the pressure off our vocal cords which makes it a very safe warmup technique. It also helps you discover your 'mixed voice'. Singers often find it difficult to transition from their chest voice to head voice. This warmup helps you experience a new vocal tone which you may not know existed, and makes these transitions a cakewalk! It also smoothens your voice to bring out a clean sound. Lip roll exercises when done rigorously can dramatically enhance your vocal range.