I've recently started talking to my students about the importance of doing a gentle warm up every morning. This isn't the kind of warm up where you are strengthening, pushing, memorizing in every cell how to automatically turn on your breath support and tonal placement. That's also important to practice every day if you want to sing at your full potential, but this gentle morning warm up serves a different purpose, and it doesn't involve scales and arpeggios.
So what is it? It's all things gentle on the voice and soothing to the soul. Lip trills, gentle vocal sirens, humming a tune that speaks to the state of your soul, singing a melody to yourself on a gentle vowel or series of vowels. Ooh and an rounded ee (start with the ooh shape and then move your lips into an ee without losing the round shape at the back of the throat) are my faves for this, because they can be sung quietly, to the self, where Oh and Ah feel more external, vowels for projecting and singing out to the world.
The vocal purpose of this kind of singing first thing, and as a precursor to any warm up, is to relax and free the vocal chords. Because even when you hit those high, loud notes, which will push your vocal chords out of their comfort zone, you always want to come back to a place of total vocal freedom in the vocal chords by using the tools of unflagging breath support and tonal placement (knowing how and where to resonate different pitches and vowels to get the absolute most out of every single syllable).
But what I realized in my teaching process is that our vocal chords can serve as an internal barometer for the state of our bodies and souls. Because if you try to push your vocal chords without being totally in your body, without tapping into breath support and tone, if you are tired, sick, or out of balance- it's going to show up in your voice! You will feel it, and hear it in your voice. But- with this grounding, gentle warm up you can tap into every cell as well as your emotional being. Even if your voice, your body, and/or your soul are just tired, or sad, or gunky that day, you will begin healing through awareness, and you will be able to move through your day with respect for your current state and an informed intention of restoring health and balance. AND you might discover- wow, my voice feels like a million bucks today without even trying! Some days are just like that. Either way, this check in with your body through the voice will guide you as you use and share your voice, and ultimately result in more vocal strength and freedom.
[By the way, I just looked up synonyms for "unflagging" and they are all great, relevant words that communicate the level of physical engagement needed with breath and tone at all times to achieve true vocal freedom and sing like a pro: Indefatigable, Energetic, Vigorous, Industrious, Hard-Working, Determined, Enthusiastic, Keen, Zealous, Spirited, Dynamic, Dogged, Tenacious, Persevering, Untiring, Unwearying, Unremitting, Unflagging, and Indomitable. Check out my "It's Not About The Notes" video for more on that!]
Much Love to you all! I'd love to hear from you about your musical/vocal/creative journeys as of late- feel free to share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Alison is a Musician, Writer, Teacher and Mother. She lives in rural Sonoma County with her daughter, Ella.