Vocal Warmup vs Vocal Workout: What's The Difference

Happy Monday morning to all of you gorgeous, wonderful singers/teachers of singing. It is a rare thing to wake to a cloudless sky these days after weeks and weeks of rainy days. So after this blog is posted, I'll be getting the lawn mower out to mow the grass which is "as high as an elephants eye" after all the rain we've had! Our topic today is warming up the voice verses vocally working out the voice. I have to admit that when it comes to a vocal warm up or a vocal workout, I've sometimes confused the two. Before I began studying the concepts of the Swedish-Italian school of singing, I would often over-warm up my voice due to a lack of solid vocal technique. I remember being back stage for a show I was doing in south Florida many years ago and one of my fellow cast members said to me "Jeff, you sure do warm up your voice a lot! Do you think that's necessary since we just did a show last night?" That got me thinking" "Humm, maybe I am am warming up too much." Suddenly I remembered a quote by the late great soprano Joan Sutherland who once said "We never want to warm up our voice so much that the bloom falls off the rose". Once I began to master the concepts of the technique, I found that the time it took to warm up my voice before a performance was greatly reduced, and there was still plenty of "bloom on the rose" for the performance. So what is the difference between a vocal warm and a vocal workout? Well, a vocal workout is really as it sounds: A complete vocal workout for the voice, covering all the bases. My vocal workout begins with a lot of very light head voice down exercises first. I rarely begin with exercises that are chest voice dominant in the lower register. A healthy middle voice is key to a balanced voice from top to bottom, so I will often start with a descending 5 tone scale on "ooh" beginning at middle at C4. This can take several minutes and I try not to rush through this part of the workout. Once I feel that the head voice is starting to open up, then I will add my favorite exercise called the "vocé cuperto", which is a two octave exercise starting at low A2 in chest voice, then jumping up two octaves to A4 in falsetto before descending all the way back down to A2. This exercise alone is quite a workout but is so incredibly healthy for the voice that it doesn't feel like work at all. I take this exercise up by half steps to about E3 before moving on to another exercise. The next part of my vocal workout includes 5 tone ascending and descending vowel combination scales. I often use the vowel combinations of "ee" and "oh" or "eh" and "ah" and then vary them up. After running through my entire range on the 5 tone scales, then I will move onto arpeggios using different phrases such as "Oh how I love to sing" or "Bella Signora". Once the voice begins to feel open and the muscles feel lubricated, I will move onto "ng" exercises which add nasal resonance or "twang" to the voice. So far we're looking at about 15 to 20 minute vocal workout. From there I will check to see if the there are other areas of the voice that need to be addressed (they're often are!) and this could include staccato exercises, range building exercises, chest voice connection exercises, head voice strengthening exercises, jaw tension reducing exercises, breathing exercises, vowel alteration exercises (Caruso Scale), tongue tension reducing exercises and many many more. Once the vocal exercise portion of the workout is complete (30 minutes or more), I will take a few minutes to let my voice relax, recalibrate, drink some water or tea, check my email and then move on to repertory which could be anything I am preparing for upcoming gigs, to something I may never sing in public like an aria from "La Boheme"! Yes, I still check in with those difficult operatic arias from time to time just to see if I can navigate them healthily! I sing mostly pop and rock now, but an aria like "Che Gelida Manina" is like a cross fit workout. I think it's important to find a challenging piece of music to keep the voice "on it's toes" so to speak! This entire workout usually last an hour or maybe a little longer. I try to incorporate this into my daily routine 3 to 4 days a week. If I were not teaching voice everyday, singing in a busy corporate wedding band and singing in my church on Sundays (Thursday rehearsals) I might do this workout 5 to 6 days a week. But all the additional singing I do more than makes up for the 3 to 4 days or vocal workouts. As far as a vocal warmup is concerned I would take a few of the exercises from the complete vocal workout and do those for about 20 to 40 minutes. But instead of doing it all at in one session, I will break it up into 3 segments: ten minutes in the morning, 10 to 15 minutes in the afternoon, and then 10 to 15 minutes before the show. I have found that by breaking up the vocal warmup on show days, my voice is much more relaxed and at my command than if I did the entire warmup in one session. I hope you found this post helpful. If you are looking for a complete vocal workout with lots of fun exercises and very well defined instruction, please check out my instructional DVD/CD called "Let Your Voice Soar". It is available in hard copy or digital download for 15% off the retail price. Check out the promotional video here. Have a great day everyone! https://youtu.be/fN9yD311e7I

 

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