Monday, April 15, 2019

How to warm up your voice on the bus (or any other public space)

Sometimes we don’t get the chance to do a full warm up in private before a performance.

photo by Justin Morgan

Here are some ideas for warming up your voice in public without drawing attention to yourself.

There are times when it’s not possible to do a proper warm up before a performance.

You might have a sudden, unexpected audition; the venue your choir is performing at has no private space; you’re running late and will miss the choir warm up;  you’re asked to do a gig at the very last minute.

In these cases (and since warming up is important: see Preparing to sing: why bother?) you may find that warming up in a public space is your only option.

warm ups last longer than you think

I’ve worked with people who sing regularly (probably most days) who’ve found warming up a strange concept. If you sing a lot, you’ll find that it doesn’t take as long to get your voice prepared. A warmed up voice stays warm for a long time.

If you get the chance, you can warm up at home before your performance. If you do it thoroughly, your voice will stay warmed up for quite some time. Enough for you to get to the gig then do a few vocal slides and lip trills before you start singing.

how to warm up in public without disturbing the peace

OK, it might be embarrassing, but it is possible to do a vocal warm up on the bus without drawing too much attention to yourself. There are several simple things you can try:

  • silent yawning – to stretch and open the back of your throat. You can even add a bit of sound if you get the chance (and a sly stretch!).
  • gentle humming – loads of people hum or sing quietly to themselves whilst going about their daily business. Try some gentle, sustained humming with the sound really forward on your so your lips buzz. The quieter you are, the more breath control you’ll need. If you really focus on bringing the sound forward, the sound won’t carry as much as you think. Then try some humming slides up and down. If you’re on a bus or train, the engine sound will cover the sound you’re making.
  • tongue and jaw exercises – you’ll probably know a load of these. Things like jaw isolation (forward, backward, side to side); brushing your teeth with your tongue; chewing; and so on.
  • mouth the words to a song – you’ll be stretching and warming up your tongue, lips and jaw. You can double-check you’re getting the rhythms right (and have remembered the words properly). Try over-articulating to really have a work out. If you feel embarrassed you can try this with headphones on, even if there’s no sound coming through. Loads of people sing along to their phones.
  • put your hand over your mouth – no, really. The tighter and closer the better. You’ll be surprised how fully you can sing without any sound really coming out.
  • sing along with the ambient music – music (and muzak) is everywhere these days. Even on buses sometimes. Go into a shopping mall or café or clothes shop and there’s bound to be some music on. Just gently sing along with it as your warm up.
  • use your local park – there’s tai chi in the park, yoga in the park, pilates in the park … Before you get on the bus, pop into the nearest park and do some stretching. It’s not just your voice that needs warming up.
  • watch this video – voice teacher Andrew Byrne has a few ideas on this YouTube video for warming up your voice in public.

Well that’s all from me. I bet you’ve got loads of other great ideas. Do drop by and share them in the comments.

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Chris Rowbury




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