I read an interesting article recently that sought the answer to “what are your three favorite vocal warm-up exercises”? This question was posed to professional singers, voice coaches and conductors and the results were very interesting…and included one thread throughout. Okay, not a thread. It was so complete you’d have to call it a rope.

Much of the exercises were ones you’d recognize at one of our rehearsals (and would make you VERY confused if you were listening in without any context…we should try that on somebody…it would be hilarious): sighs and whines like a puppy and “zing” sounds. A wide variety of ascending and descending scales. All the stuff that we consider “normal” after all these years.

A new one on me? Singing through a coffee stirrer. No, really. I guess the back pressure in your face will do…something. I’ll have to try it the next time I’m at Starbuck’s. Should create quite a scene.

So what’s the thread (rope) that runs through EVERY one of the responses? Lip trills. Yeah, the little motorboat noise that we do at different pitches and sliding up and down and around. There were variations on it using a pentatonic scale or some other structured movement but every single one of these people-who-sing-for-a-living considered the lip trill a vital part of the warm-up process. As a matter of fact, the majority of them mentioned it first.

So motor the boat, people! Or start your chain saw or whatever that sound makes you think of…

(One response, that did indeed include a few exercises after this comment, got my attention: “As a vocal warm up, I’m more interested in stretching other muscles, relaxing and resting my voice, and eating a meal with protein about two hours before performing. Singing with regularity doesn’t require that much time to warm up.”

So what I REALLY need to do before singing for a few hours is take a walk, eat a steak and take a nap?

Sign me up.)