Preparing and Warming Up Your Voice For a Performance
Just as athletes prepare and warm up their muscles before participating either in a practice or a competition, so should vocalists prepare and warm up their vocal cords and voice phonation muscles before practicing or performing. Your vocal cords or vocal folds are little muscles that can be stressed or damaged (just like an athlete’s) if they are not warmed up in preparation to perform. In addition to the possibility of damage, your performance may suffer if all these muscles are not properly stretched, allowing the blood flow to increase.
Before each performance your goal should be to relax and soothe your throat, and this can be done without purchasing expensive sprays or throat lozenges…
Home remedies to relax and soothe your throat:
Get plenty of rest the night before…
Rest is essential to all muscles performing at their peak, and additionally, if you’re too tired when your perfom, you could injure your vocal cords.
Stay hydrated and keep your voice lubricated (drink one half your body weight in water, not counting other liquids)
- Although it’s important to drink before and sometimes during your performance, there are things you should definitely stay away from:
- Very cold water or other beverages
- Super hot drinks (you can breathe in the steam from a hot drink, just don’t drink the hot liquid)
- Dairy products
- Caffeinated drinks
- Soft drinks
- Alcoholic drinks
- When you drink water, drink soothingly warm or room temperature water
- Make a warm cup of water, honey & lemon, it not only tastes good, but can relieve a tired sore throat.
Foods you should avoid…
- Spicy foods
- Peanut butter
- Anything dairy
Warm Up Your Voice (but don’t overdo it)
While a good warm up is desirable and important, you can overdo it by singing too high, too low, too long or too loud. Keep your warm ups in the middle range so you don’t stress your voice.
Begin with a few breathing exercises that will help you avoid getting out of breath. One example of a breathing exercise is…
Take a normal, everyday breath, then blow out through pursed lips like blowing out birthday candles until your air is gone. Then totally relax your body all over and feel where the air goes down deep into your low lung, which feels like your tummy. You can take in another easy breath and then exhale, making an “s”, or hissing sound as you do. Keep your shoulders and chest low and relaxed. Repeat several times, focusing on the lower abdomen, which is sometimes easier to do if you place a hand on the abdomen to remind you of your focus place. You can use bubble lips, gently singing from top down and then, being sure you stay upper body relaxed, sing from bottom up. Singing from bottom up is generally where we want to tense up a bit, so consciously relax as you bubble up from the bottom to top. Sing with bubble lips top down as it is easier and bottom up (relaxed both ways)
several times. This will help you coordinate your open throat and low lung breathing, because in order to bubble your lips, you must engage your tummy.
Your vocal warm up uses bubbling as it also forces your upper lip to warm up and relax in an upward motion, thus releasing your upper pharynx space for singing or speaking well.
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