In high school, I was in track and cross country. I ran the 400, 4×400, 800, and sometimes even the 100m sprint. Do you think I warmed up with some jogging, stretches, and light running before racing as fast as possible down the track, or before taking off on a three-mile race over scrubby, rocky desert? You bet!
It’s really obvious when you think about it, but sometimes we don’t think of vocal cords as muscles just like the rest of the body. Partly because we talk all day, and don’t seem to need to warm up for that! But the difference is that we usually talk in one small pitch and dynamic range of our voice; we don’t use the whole range of the voice when talking.
Talking is to singing as walking is to sprinting. We may walk here and there, but we still warm up to run fast, long, or hard. Likewise, if you plan to do anything strenuous with your voice, like sing gravelly rock or blues, sing higher than you normally do, or work on volume and release, you need to warm up.
If you don’t warm up before pushing your vocal limits, your vocal muscles will fatigue sooner, retain tension, not be as flexible, not allow you to explore and push your current limits, and possibly get injured.
I know because I’ve experienced all of these things in the past – even including temporary injury from not warming up enough before a strenuous vocal workout. You can bet I warm up now before working hard!
(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn