I know that you know how important doing vocal warm-ups is. In a perfect world, you would always have time to do a proper 6-10 minute vocal warm-up (depending on length of rehearsal or performance). However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes you just need a quick exercise to warm it up- fast! So this blog post will be a (quick!) run-down of my 2 favorite exercises that I use when I’m late and don’t have time.
Elements of an Effective (& Fast) Vocal Warm-up
If an exercise satisfies at least 3 of these criteria, then it is a good candidate for when you only have time for one warm-up.
You don’t want to miss any notes in your range, so it’s best to do an exercise that uses mostly step-wise motion. In a scalar exercise, almost every note in the range will be sung multiple times, with the notes in the middle of the range getting the most repetition. This ensures that your tessitura will be warmed up very quickly.
2. Large Range
In order to hit the maximum number of notes in a short amount of time, it helps if the exercise has a large range. Taking into account that you transpose an exercise by half-steps and given that most vocal exercises span a Perfect 5th, you’d need to perform 6 transpositions to reach only 1 octave.
Considering most singers have around 2 octave ranges, you’d need to perform 18 transpositions to cover the whole range! On the contrary, exercises with large ranges (an octave or more) will only need 6-13. This way you only have to do a couple of iterations (moving up a half-step at a time for each) to reach all the notes in your range.
3. Requires use of Extended Breathing Technique
Most vocal exercises are only 2 or 3 measures long and have only 1 phrase. Those which have longer phrases (4 measures or more) force you to engage in good breathing technique. If you only have time to do 1 set of 1 exercise, you it helps to be able to skip the breathing exercises.
4. Uses Multiple Vowels
Many vocal exercises only use one vowel, leading you to need multiple exercises in order to hit the others. Therefore, if the exercise you choose uses more than one vowel, it cuts down on the need for other exercises in the same session.
The Best Quick Vocal Warm-Ups
I have two exercises that I love to use when I am short on time to warm-up. One is a melismatic vocalise and the other is lip trilling.
*This is my most favorite exercise- it’s just plain fun!*
If you don’t read music, there is also an audio recording of the exercise.
This exercise qualifies for all 4 criteria above:
- √ Scalar – It is entirely scalar
- √ Range – It spans an octave and a 5th, so it only requires 6 transpositions to reach most singers’ range
- √ Breathing Technique – It has long phrases
- √ More than 1 Vowel – It uses 3
- As an added bonus, it is also good for agility as it has several turns in the last phrase.
Download the vocal exercise resource to get the exercises in 13 keys in Treble Clef, and Bass/Tenor Clefs.
If you prefer to hear a human voice sing it rather than a synthesized voice listen below.
*Another Quick Way to Warm Up Your Voice*
Lip trills are my other favorite technique. They are gentle on the voice, so I especially like them first thing in the morning. And you can use any vocal warm-up you know and replace the vowels/lyrics with a lip trill.
- √ Scalar – Depends on the exercise, however, you should pick one that is
- √ Range – Depends on the exercise, however, you should pick one that is at least an octave
- √ Breathing Technique – It takes well-produced, continued breath pressure to perform a lip trill
- X More than 1 Vowel – No vowels
Here is an example of an exercise that you probably know that would be a good candidate for warming up quickly:
It only has a range of a 9th, so you’d have to do 8 of them in order to get a full 2 octaves, which is still only a little over a minute of time to warm up.
Audio Versions of the Exercises Also Available!