How To Exercise Your Voice
No matter who you are or what you do, chances are you need to use your voice most of the day. Everyone knows the importance of exercising the body but few people realize the voice needs exercise too. Doing a few minutes of simple vocal warm up exercises can increase your vocal power, variety, range, stamina, and fitness and dramatically improve the overall quality of your communication.
To release excess physical tension it is best to open up the body before opening up the voice. Most people experience tension specifically in the tongue, jaw, face, neck, or shoulders and are normally unaware of how much that consistent stress impacts their verbal and non-verbal communication. When speech isn’t enunciated clearly, consonants are dropped off at the ends of words, singers strain for high notes or if one experiences vocal fatigue too quickly it is a sure sign of tension.
Perform these eleven quick and easy warm ups in the privacy of your shower or wherever you feel comfortable to release physical and vocal tension.
1. Massage the base of your tongue, in the spongy area just behind your chin bone, above and in front of your Adams apple. Start by resting your index fingers on top of your chin. Drop your jaw which will cause your mouth to open. While resting your index fingers on your chin, simultaneously use your thumbs to massage deeply into the base of your tongue. Breathe in and on the exhale, massage deeper to let go of tension along with the breath.
2. The temporal mandibular joints normally hold a significant amount of tension. To find the joints, place your fingertips just by and in front of your ears on both sides of your face and open your mouth. The space that opens up as your jawbone moves is your temporal mandibular joint. Massage these joints using your fingertips or the palms of your hands. Release your jaw further and massage deeper with each exhale.
3. Stretch your tongue out of your mouth as far as you can in all directions. If this is difficult for you to do, use a washcloth or handkerchief to gently pull and stretch your tongue up to your nose, down to your chin, and side to side in the direction of each ear. Then slowly draw clockwise and counterclockwise circles with your tongue.
4. Make as many funny faces as you can to exercise all of your facial muscles massaging any other tense head areas like your temples, forehead, eyebrows, and scalp.
5. Massage your neck and shoulders. It is also a good idea to add basic neck and shoulder rolls to loosen up further especially if you spend a lot of time on a computer.
If you experience any tenderness or pain during massage, there is tension trapped in your body. Just continue to breathe into the tension, releasing and letting it go. Vocalizing with open sounds like ‘haaaa’ or ‘aaaah’ on the exhale while massaging or stretching can help you release even further.
6. Make some silly noises while shaking out your entire body or jumping up and down to let go of any other tense areas that may be stuck.
7. Yawn a few times to open up the back of the throat.
8. Hum holding any pitch for 10 or more seconds feeling a tingling sensation around your lips and nose.
9. Flap your lips making a Brr sound. Start on any pitch. Then go up and down your vocal range.
10. Vocalize on an open ‘Aah’ sound going up and down your range.
11. Sing or hum any song that uplifts or inspires you.
A voice is most beautiful when its sounds are unleashed from deep within the authentic self. Your voice may not be perfect, professional or even what others may call “on pitch” but don’t let that stop you from singing your heart’s song. Vocal warm ups will help you to open up your mind, body, and spirit to a playful, productive, and powerful day. Give yourself permission to let your inner voice roar and reap consistent benefits in your external world.