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The 10 Best Vocal Exercises For Singers

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Best Vocal Exercises For Singers

Singing is a physically demanding activity that requires vocal exercises to stay on top of your game.

Any professional singer will tell you just how important they are to build vocal power, encourage proper breathing, and improve overall vocal performance.

Whether you’re an experienced vocalist rehearsing for a big show or a beginner who wants to learn how to sing well, we’ve compiled some of the best singing exercises to help you achieve your best vocal sound.

 

The 10 Best Vocal Exercises For Singers

After years of experience and trying all sorts of vocal exercises, we’ve rounded up the vocal warm-ups and breath control techniques that we believe are the most effective.

Let’s dive into our recommendations for the 10 best vocal exercises for singers:

 

10. Enhance Transitions With Vocal Sirens

Some singers may find it challenging to switch from their low-range chest voice (speaking voice) to their high-range head voice. However, the siren exercise warms up the vocal cords and helps you practice the transition to develop a stronger, better singing voice.

If you love singing pop, rock, or any of the most popular music genres, you’ll want to use this technique to prepare and strengthen your voice.

This warm-up activates the muscles surrounding the vocal folds and larynx (also called the voice box). It’s also a great technique to achieve greater vocal control, as you constantly change from low to high notes.

Start at the lowest note in your range and make an “ooh” sound while gradually rising to the highest note. The sound you’ll make is similar to a fire engine or a police car.

Once you reach the top, head back down and repeat as long as it takes for you to hit the lowest and highest notes confidently. You can even switch up your vowel sounds or add in some lip or tongue trills.

 

9. Increase Vocal Range With Lip Trills

The lip trill (also called the lip buzz) is one of the easiest (and funniest) vocal warm-ups for singers that can relieve tension and increase your vocal range and breath control. Some of the best female singers of all time use this exercise before a big show.

Pucker your lips and inhale. Then, blow air out through your mouth and nose with your lips closed. If you sound like a motorboat, you’re on the right track! You can stick with one note or incorporate slides by going up and down your range.

Lip trills help you train your diaphragm to release air in a controlled manner and recognize if you’re breathing correctly. Achieving the right balance of air is critical, as too much or too little air will prevent your lips from vibrating.

When your lips are closed, this causes resistance (or back-pressure) against the airflow, taking the pressure off your vocal cords and reducing the risk of damaging your voice. In addition, this method removes tension from your lips, which allows for better diction and a clearer voice.

 

8. Improve Diction With Tongue Twisters

Reciting tongue twisters may sound silly, but they are one of the most effective singing exercises, especially if you struggle with articulation. After all, no one will know what you’re singing if you don’t articulate it clearly.

It’s easy to forget that your tongue is a muscle, and when it’s tense, it can hinder proper articulation and diction as you sing. This vocal warm-up eases the pressure on the tongue, jaw, and facial muscles, allowing you to enunciate the words.

Here is one tongue twister that naturally raises your soft palate, which will help eliminate nasality and add a fuller tone to your voice. Recite this sentence repeatedly, getting faster as you go: “A proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot.”

To tire your tongue and mouth out, repeat this sentence and gradually increase your speed: “Red letter, yellow letter.”

There are many other tongue twisters you can incorporate into your vocal warm-ups. Find a few that work best for you and practice them each day.

 

7. Hit High Notes With The Bratty Nay

If you’re having trouble singing high notes, this technique can help you improve your performance, strengthen your vocal muscles, and increase your overall vocal power.

All you have to do is say “nay” using a completely nasal tone. It should be a bratty sound, like you’re talking with your nose plugged. The next step is to start at a comfortable low note in your vocal range and sing the word “nay” on that specific note.

From here, sing up an octave and a half or however you can go before you reach your vocal break, replacing each note with “nay.” Then, go back down to where you started.

Make sure to keep that bratty sound on each note. After a few times, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much stronger your voice sounds and feels!

 

6. Improve Vocal Tone With The 5-Tone Count

No matter how seasoned a singer may be, most singers need to work on their vocal tone. Usually, people sing too breathy or too nasally.

Fortunately, improving the tone of your voice is fairly simple. This exercise is designed to help you maintain a normal tone while obtaining more power.

The first step is to say “one” at a medium volume. Then, start at a note at the bottom of your vocal range and sing the “one” at that same volume. From here, count up to five as you sing up the scale, and repeat as needed.

Focus on performing the exercise correctly by using the same amount of power you do when you’re speaking as when you’re singing.

As you continue to incorporate this technique into your warm-up routine, you’ll quickly discover an improvement in the clearness and quality of your tone.

 

5. Develop Breath Control With The Hiss Exhale

Singing requires breathing, so it’s important to find a vocal warm-up method that improves breath control. The hiss exhale breathing exercise is one of the greatest ways to do just that.

For this exercise, you’ll inhale deeply and slowly exhale on a hiss or “sss” sound.

You can practice this technique for different amounts of time. For example, you can start by inhaling for four counts and exhaling for four. Then, switch it up to inhaling for two counts, exhaling for eight counts, and so on.

While engaging in this exercise, it’s critical to ensure you breathe from your diaphragm. In addition, your stomach should push out as you inhale, and your neck and shoulders should remain in place.

The hiss exhale technique will help you control the release of air and enable you to hold notes out longer, which will ultimately give you more vocal power.

 

4. Advanced Ear Training With Solfege Ladders

Participating in ear training exercises can be difficult for some singers, especially if you’re a beginner. However, many techniques help you learn how to recognize and match different pitches. One of them is the solfège ladders exercise.

If you want to be like the singers who don’t use autotune, you’ll want to learn how to match pitch easily with this technique.

Chances are, you’ve heard someone singing “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do” before, or maybe you’ve heard it in The Sound of Music film. It’s one of the most popular scale exercises that warm your voice and trains your ear to memorize each pitch.

You’ll want your starting note to be on middle C to perform this exercise. If you have a piano nearby, hit the C note located in the middle of the keys. Then, match the pitch with the piano as you sing each word up the scale.

These are the words you’ll sing and on what note: Do (C), Re (D), Mi (E), Fa (F), So (G), La (A), Ti (B), Do (C).

First, sing up the scale. Then, sing down the scale. Go up and down several times until you nail each note. Quick tip: if you want to ensure you’re hitting the right note, we suggest playing each note on the piano as you sing.

 

3. Use Straw Phonation To Reduce Vocal Strain

The straw phonation technique is one of the most effective daily vocal exercises for singers, as it increases breath support, relieves tension on the vocal cords, and reduces breathiness. It’s commonly recommended for those with laryngitis or who suffer from other voice-related issues.

Straw phonation is a semi-occluded vocal tract (SOVT) exercise, which means it’s done with the mouth partially closed.

To perform this exercise, take a straw (any material is fine) and put it in your mouth. Then, you can practice breathing in and out, humming up and down your vocal range, or humming a whole song.

Remember not to bite down on the straw, as this will restrict airflow. Instead, gently place it between your lips as if you were about to drink something.

Try it out for two to five minutes, and you’ll notice a difference in the resonance of your voice. Instead of sounding throaty or tense, it’ll sound fuller and more powerful.

If you’d like to go a step further, poke a small hole in the bottom of a paper cup and put your straw through it. Then, place the cup’s rim around your mouth and start singing!

This more advanced technique will allow you to articulate your vowels and consonants better while benefitting from the acoustic pressures within the cup.

 

2. Sing “Gee” To Increase Vocal Power

Do you have a fantastic singing voice, but you’re looking for more power to hit those pesky high notes? The “Gee” exercise can help you increase your vocal strength and volume.

The “G” consonant will bring your vocal folds together to help bridge the gap between your head voice to your chest voice. The “ee” vowel sound stretches the vocal folds, which lets you sing higher with less effort.

First, recite the word “gee” out loud at a volume that’s comfortable for your voice. You’ll want to pronounce “gee” like you would if you were to say the word “geese.”

Next, sing up through an octave and a half scale, replacing each note with “gee.” As you sing, make sure to focus on the “G” consonant and repeat as necessary until you’re successfully hitting the highest notes.

If your voice is quieter, this technique is the perfect warm-up for you!

 

1. Hum To Warm Up Your Vocal Register

Just like you need to start your car on a cold winter morning, your voice also needs time to warm up. One of the simplest and gentlest ways to improve your singing ability is by humming, as it reduces pressure on your facial muscles and warms up the vocal cords quickly and efficiently.

The humming technique benefits those with a lot of vocal strain and tension because it’s a much lighter mechanism. Even singers that use autotune use this method to improve their vocal tone and prepare their voices.

This is an easy exercise to do when you’re short on time or if you forgot to warm up before a show. Just close your mouth and sing the word “hmm.” Then, focus on exhaling as you sing the “h” consonant.

This exercise can be performed in various ways, so do whatever you prefer. For example, you can hum part of a song or sing up and down a particular scale. Whichever you choose, ensure you’re feeling a buzzing sensation in the front of your face. If not, you may not be doing it correctly.

You can perform the humming technique with or without a piano, making it the number one all-around vocal exercise! Your voice will be warmed up and ready to go after a few minutes.

 

Summary

Hopefully, you can use these vocal exercises to maintain a healthy voice, improve your breath support, and increase your vocal stamina.

We’ve selected humming as our top vocal training technique because it’s the easiest exercise, and you can do it anywhere at any time. Happy singing!

What’s the best vocal exercise for singers, in your opinion? Leave a comment below. 

Emily is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulelist who has graced the stage at countless venues across the Midwest and Southern U.S. Throughout her career, she’s opened for artists including Eric Paslay, Stars Go Dim, Love & The Outcome, and Sierra Hull. She writes relatable, original music in various genres, from country and folk to cinematic pop, hoping to inspire and uplift her listeners. Outside of music, Emily enjoys hiking with her husband and playing with her comical cat, Olive.

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