Vocal ExercisesIn my Portland vocal studio, I always tell my students that there are 2 lanes they can go down with vocal exercises.

The first lane is mainly for technique, but also helps to warm up your vocal instrument. The 2nd lane is strictly for warming up the voice, and may not have as much actual ‘technique’ in it. Let’s take a look at these 2 lanes and find out why they are different, and how they can help you.

First off, let’s be clear. Your voice is an instrument. You must always treat it as such. This means stay away from the obvious voice killers such as smoke, yelling, excessive talking, alcohol and sometimes dairy if it affects you. It also means that you can’t just leave your instrument in its case so to speak and only take it out on special occasions. The voice needs to be well hydrated and well exercised on a regular basis. This is why warm-up exercises are essential for singing. Everyone has their favorite warm-up exercises and I encourage my students to find the ones that they love and are comfortable doing on a regular basis. I have my own warm up routine, but sometimes that routine differs based on the type of material I’m singing. I may do more head- vocal exercises for a certain situation or more belting exercises for another situation. I always start with my base warmups such as the lip-bubble, sirens, some humming and ‘ng’ exercises, some yawn-sighs and then check in to see how I feel before choosing the next set of warm ups.

The 2nd lane of vocal exercises are ‘strictly technique’ exercises’ that are designed to trick your neuromuscular system to respond to notes in a specific way. These exercises help open doors to ‘rooms’ that your voice may not naturally get to on a regular basis . For instance, many singers may need exercises to help them feel what it’s like to sing in their head voice. Or to sing in their chest voice, or to sing in their mix and blend. In the beginning of vocal training, it is essential to do these exercises (with a good vocal teachers assistance) on a regular basis to develop muscle memory. It’s like going to the gym. Sure, maybe you can lift those 15-pound weights with some effort one or two times, but if you keep lifting them on a regular basis, it will start to feel easier and more natural. Vocal exercises do the same thing basically, but instead of building actual muscle, we’re building muscle memory. Regular vocal exercises and repetition is the key. Although repetitive vocal exercises can be tedious, it’s important to keep our eyes on the prize and remember that this repetition of exercises is building muscle memory. Once our neuromuscular system accepts the new sounds and sensations that happen during the exercises, we can then go on to singing songs and applying this new muscle memory within the artistry of a song. However, old muscle memory and bad habits can creep back in once we start singing songs, which is why returning to repetitive exercises on a regular basis is necessary for building and maintaining proper vocal technique.