Warm-Up Exercises

I often see people asking about the best warm-up exercises.

There are no best warm-up exercises.

Many people do warm-up exercises because they think it’s good to do them. Others do them at random, depending on what they are going to sing. Some people do the same 5 or 10 or 15 exercises no matter what but others sing songs or don’t warm-up at all.

In recent years at my Institute at Shenandoah, I was surprised to discover that many people are confused about what warm-up exercises are for. Yes, warm-up, no, don’t warm-up…..they were lost.

There is never any “magic” in a vocal exercise. No matter who gave it to you, no matter what you think about the notes and the syllables or sounds, the exercise only does one functional thing as a primary stimulus and perhaps has one more as a secondary stimulus.


At the moment “semi-occluded” exercises are a very hot topic. They are seen a solution to just about every vocal problem. Still, you can  sing on a straw and do it poorly and it could be a waste of time. If you want to learn how to belt properly, singing on a straw is NOT going to teach you how to do that. Period. 

I have said before and I say again, vocal exercises (various musical patterns with vowels or syllables or with a hum) have no inherent value. If you do not know what kind of functional response they elicit in the singer’s throat, you could just as well read aloud from the phone book as do them.

“What kind of warm-up exercises should I use with my students?” I guarantee that if a singing teacher asks that question of other singing teachers he or she will get lots of answers and almost none of them will contain what I just wrote.

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