Warming up and cooling down before and after singing is crucial in preserving a healthy singing voice. If you don’t warm up and cool down your voice, you risk damaging your vocal cords and sometimes permanently so.
All athletes know that an effective warm up is essential for optimal athletic performance. But you say, singers are not athletes, so why should singers warm up their singing voices?
Singers who are dinner guests are often asked to perform impromptu entertainment by their host after the dinner to entertain other guests. The wise singer will politely decline the request rather than singing raw which is further complicated by a bloated tummy.
A proper warming up before a singing performance lets the singer to get in touch with the singer’s inner self physically and psychologically since self awareness is the foundation of good vocal techniques.
All good singers know that there is a co-ordination of many muscles parts and therefore warming up before singing should be an unhurried and a leisurely self-exploration that allows enough time for the loosening and coordination of the muscles that assist voice production. Warming up your voice should be an enjoyable experience because as you warm up, your voice begins to sound better, effortless and a sense singing freely is felt.
Unfortunately, most of the time, the singer is warming up while rushing to a rehearsal or as a last minute preparation before taking the stage. The pressure of a hurried warming up may cause physical and mental tension and as such, the warming up may prove to be ineffective or worse, counter-productive.
All well trained singers develop their own distinctive warming up routines best suited to their own personal requirements. The routines may vary with changes in physical, mental and also emotional state.
Most good singers begin by warming up their body first with light physical exercises. This is done to reduce the muscular tension so that the singing voice will not sound strained or tensed. Furthermore, light exercises helps to stimulate deep breathing which is essential for good voice support.
It is vital to start vocalizing in your comfortable vocal range so as not to strain your vocal cords when it is cold. You can then gradually move on to the higher and lower extreme notes. Some recent biomechanical research have shown that singing at the extremity of both the higher and lower notes of the vocal range can strain the laryngeal muscles, and can result harmful patterns of muscle tension. It goes on to say that thus it is good common sense to avoid the extreme pitches whether they are high or low notes until your voice is warmed up appropriately. Most singer’s warm up is devoted to the goals of obtaining a beautiful voice timbre through the use of various vocal exercises.
After a singing session, the singer should cool down the voice with exercises that soothe the vocal cords such as soft descending scales on the “oo” or the “ee” vowel. If the singer does not cool down after a sing session, the vocal tension will stay and the vocal cords remain tensed and this will lead to further voice complications. So, to maintain and preserve a healthy singing voice, adequate warm up and cool down is a must in any singer’s inventory.