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3 Best Ways to Warm Up the Vocal Cords

I've received a couple of requests for tips on how to warm up the singing voice, so this week we're just going to get down to basics on vocal warmups.

Bubbling (Lip Trills)

What is it and how do you do it?

It's basically making the "raspberry" sound.  But make sure your lips are floppy and loose and making a sound like a motorboat, rather than pursed tightly together and making a buzzing sound like a bee.  Once you get it going, explore your entire range with it.

Why should I do it?

It warms you up without strain, allows most people to sing in a connected voice all the way through their range, it allows many people to sing to the very top of their range, it loosens up your lips and mouth, and it's hard to do without breath support!

Who should do it?
Everyone, from beginners to experts.  It's a great first warmup for EVERYONE. 


Creaky Edge

What is it and how do you do it?

The creaky edge is the sound of a creaky door of a haunted house slowly swinging open.  It helps you learn what it feels like to make your vocal cords connect with each other.  As a vocal exercise, start with that creaky edge and turn it into a tone (over a couple of seconds).  Once you get it going, play with it throughout your range - especially in any weak areas of your voice.

Why should I do it?

This exercise helps you keep your voice connected all the way through your range, even across your bridge areas.  It also provides the foundation for turning falsetto into full voice over time.

Who should do it?
Anyone who has noticeable "bumps" in the bridge areas or a weak falsetto that they cannot turn into a full head voice.

Keeping the Larynx Still

What is it and how do you do it?

Put your fingers gently on your larynx (the front of your neck).  Pick a syllable such as "ah" or "uh".  Now sing a 5-note scale.  (A 5-note scale might be C, D, E, F, G, and then back down.)  Feel with your fingers whether your larynx is going up when your pitch goes up, and vice versa.  If it is, then slooooow down and practice changing your pitch without changing the vertical position of your larynx.

Why should I do it?

If your larynx goes up and down with your pitch, you'll sound squeaky and tight on high pitches, and uncomfortably tense on low pitches.

Who should do it?
Anyone who can't yet do it!


(c) 2009 Adrienne Osborn

Adrienne Osborn is a vocalist and performance coach based in Colorado.   For more free articles and tips, visit

Reader Comments (1)

Great warm-ups! I would add that "creaky voice" is also the first thing to master when learning how to add growl, grot, glot, fry, or fire (proper raspiness and screaming).

Once you master being able to do creaky voice at will, and go through the normal vocal warm-ups, then the warm-up for screaming is using that same creaky technique at lower tones while cycling the sounds: ah, aa, ay, oh, oo, ree. Starting with the front of your mouth (ah), moving towards the top of your head (aa), towards the back of your head (ay), towards the back and bottom (oh), to your neck (oo), then to the front of your throat (ree). Completing the circle, starting back at "ah."

I'm sure you can describe it much better than I. :)

June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDraven Grey

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