The Physical Warm-up

Use this guide to get the body prepared for vocal activity.

We sing with our whole selves and our whole body! The following are examples of warm-ups that reinforce various aspects of good singing and reconnect with our body.

I. Physical Warm-Up

Body Brushing/Massage – Start with the arms and shoulders and work your way down to the legs. Do some self-massage to wake up the body (rub the hands together, etc.).

Body Stretches – Reach for the ceiling keeping shoulders down… (both arms/then alternating arms). Imagine grabbing something from the sky with each hand and slowly pulling it downwards.

Stretch the arms across the body and then behind you, pushing the chest outwards.

Shoulder Swimming – Roll the shoulders forward and repeat several times and then reverse direction. Get your arms involved and sweep them around as if swimming.

Jaw – Let the jaw drop and massage the jaw muscles. Do the ‘cocktail shake’ to loosen the jaw (hands together in a fist and shake – keeping the jaw loose).

Use chewing motions to get the jaw warmed up (make it cow-like)

Face – Scrunch up and release facial muscles (you can use different expressions for this one). Smile and relax. Surprised face and relax.

Tongue – “Clean your teeth” with your tongue by running it over the front and back of your teeth.

Head rolls – (Try to avoid overextending) Stand tall and drop head gently to the right shoulder, gently roll chin towards chest and continue on so left ear is over the left shoulder. Go back the opposite direction and repeat. Make sure you go slowly and are moving gently.

Neck stretch – gently drop right ear to the right shoulder. With RIGHT hand on top of the head, gently pull head towards right shoulder as your left hand reaches downward (don’t forget to breathe). Do the other side.

Roll the neck forward and back to neutral position (breathe out as you roll forward).

Spine align/roll-up stretch – Bend over from the waist, allow arms and head to hang freely; take several long low breaths allowing your body to sink lower with each exhale. SLOWLY “roll up” (keep breathing) rolling the chin to your chest. The head should be the last to come up last until you are standing tall.

*Let the breath lead the movement

II. Posture

• Feet about a shoulder-width apart, one slightly ahead of the other so that the weight of your body rests on the “balls” of your feet (NOT your heels). 

• Knees should be relaxed and slightly bent and not locked.

• The pelvis should be in a neutral position – suspended from the spine. 

• The rib cage should feel full and buoyant! Arms dangling freely at the sides. 

• The head should feel suspended.

• Ears should be over the shoulders – which are over your hips (which are over your ankles). Keep a tall line and straight spine.

*Make sure the breath is low in the body; calm, and generally silent.

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