Why it’s important to warm up your voice

It is very likely you will use your voice today. You will talk. You can shout. You may hum, you may sing, you may even karaoke! You will laugh (hopefully), cry (hopefully not!), clear your throat, cough, sneeze, yawn and everything in between. All of these actions use our voice.

So let’s ask this question – knowing all this, why WOULDN’T you warm up your voice?

5 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. And the beauty of a vocal warm up if you do can do it whilst cooking, whilst showering, putting on your makeup, getting dressed, styling your hair, driving and on the walk/commute to work.

Your vocal chords will thank you! And psychologically, it readies you to be open to communicate with others, be open to new experiences and to smash your day.

The Lip Trill explained…

In the video Hannah explains and shows the Lip Trill, and you can have a shot at it too.

“Why warm up with this exercise?”

The Lip trill action mimics the vocal chords coming together in the larynx. You see, inside your larynx, your two vocal chords undulate together when air passes through as a result of something called the Bernoulli Effect. This exercise is a great make way to check if:

  1. Your power source is strong and consistent – ie that air flow is consistent
  2. Your diaphragm is engaged and connected to the voice
  3. Your upper body can remain relaxed allowing the trill to cycle and resonate without affecting your larynx or other vocal components

The lip trill really ticks the basic boxes required for a strong vocal foundation.

“My trill is not working!”

If your lip trill is not working, it may be the result of two things:

  1. Your power source is not strong or consistent enough
  2. You are carrying too much tension in your upper body

If your power source ie: you diaphragm/airflow is not strong enough, your lip trill will not come together/cycle. If your lips are not trilling, what do you think your vocal chords will be doing? Your power source won’t be supporting or providing your larynx and vocal chords with enough air or a consistent flow either…

Another reason your lip trill may not be working if that you carry too much energy, tension or anxiety in your shoulders, jaw or lips. This tension is not needed in singing. It’s actually quite harmful and can severely limit your access to more power, more range and more control in your voice. Learn to engage your core without using tension in your upper body.

If you are having problems with either too much tension, or not enough core engagement/airflow, these adjustments may help…

Not enough airflow or engagement?

Put your hand on your diaphragm. This is a large muscle just above your belly button but beneath your chest. Now, try to hold a ‘fffff’ sound or a ‘vvvvv’ sound for 2-3 seconds.

Feel that muscle engage? Meet your diaphragm ladies and gents!That sensation should be the same as when you are trilling.

Sometimes pupils need a little kick start as well to kick their lip trill into action, so sometimes thinking it’s like starting a car, or it’s like a horse trilling their lips can give them the amount of effort and energy required to start the trill. Sounds bizarre, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. 

Too much tension?

Try doing the trill whilst pressing your index and middle fingers of both hands onto your cheeks either side of the lips and sort of smushing them together.

Your lips will slacken a little as a result. Try your lip trill again. If your finger position needs re-adjusting, play around with this placement until your hear a few consistent cycles.

This adjustment is particularly good if you carry lip tension.

If your jaw clenches a lot of tension when you sing or try to trill, chew an imaginary toffee at the same time.

This will loosen up the jaw by channeling your energy into a relaxed movement as opposed to a clenched/tight position.

If your shoulders creep up on you even time you try a trill, practise rolling your shoulders back and forth consistently whilst trilling.

Again, this will just channel your energy into a relaxing movement as opposed to a static, tense and held position.

Too easy?

If your lip trill is coming together nicely, an extension is to try and make the sounds or phrases more connected. 

At first, the trill is staccato (pointed, sharp, short) to help you understand how much energy is needed to begin. When this has been established, learn to maintain the trill for longer periods of time in order to build up stamina for longer sung phrases. 

Start to connect the different notes together in a scale making the sound as smooth or legato as possible. 

Once you have mastered one phrase like this, start to run two phrases together, then three, then for as long as your dare!

The longer you can hold a healthy lip trill without being too tense in the upper body (as you begin to run out of breath) the better your breath control and the stronger your support system is becoming.

Try this exercise in the shower (all that steam is fabulous for your vocal chords), up and down your range as well or if you feeling disconnected from your power source and core at all.

It will centre your voice, and re-establish that voice-body connection.