The most important thing a singer can do is to warm up. Without a proper warm up, your going to cause some damage at some point, even if its just wear and tear. Pro athletes always stretch and prepare before doing anything, and as a singer you’ve got to do the same. Singing is demanding on the vocal cords. When you speak, you use a limited range of pitch and volume. However, when singing, you could be sustaining a high note one second, and the next note will be an octave lower. Also, many times you’ll be screaming a note and the next note will be as soft as a whisper. To get this kind of control, you have to do an adequate warm up.
The best way to begin a warm up is by doing vocal trills. Vocals trills induce whats called vasodilation. This just means that the blood flow is going to your vocal cords more quickly, better preparing you for singing. To do a lip trill, you just let your lips vibrate like your imitating a horse or motorboat. At the same time they are vibrating, you’re also going to produce a pitch. Its best to do these on 3 and 5 tone scales. You can buy this exercise in the exercise download section of the site.
The next thing you should do is to do a 5 tone scale on an “AH” vowel, as in father. Do this at about the volume you speak at.If your voice starts to crack, let it happen; pushing will only cause you to either pull chest or crack, both of which wont do you any good. Make sure not to get louder as you go higher up in the scale. When you reach your highest note, start descending back to your starting note.
After this, do some jaw/tongue tension release exercises. My favorite is to hold your jaw down. Don’t force it down though, just let it hang naturally. Do a 3 tone scale on “LAH GAH”. Make sure your jaw isnt moving up and down with each repetition; your tongue is forming the vowels, not your jaw.
Once you have finished with your tension release exercise, finish up with a staccato exercise. The rhythm of the exercise isn’t as important as the form. There will be many choices in the exercise mp3 download section for variations of this. What we are doing though is doing scales on “HE”. This causes your cords to adduct very quickly and efficiently. Make sure the “HE” sound stays very clear and consistent. If it starts to get breathy or distorted, your doing it wrong. Also, your stomach should not pulsate with each “HE”. If it is, your pushing too much and you need to back off.
After you have completed your personal warm up, drink some water and take a 5 to 10 minute break before singing. When your finished singing, take another 5 minute break, drink lots of water, and do all of these in reverse (start on the higher notes and go down; let the high notes be in falsetto when warming down). If you skip the warm down, your voice is going to be harder to warm up the next day because there could be some swelling that will only get worse overnight.
This warm up is just an outline. To put together your own personal warm up, work with a vocal coach privately, buy a vocal training system, or you can piece together your own exercise routine through mp3 lessons with myself.