Today we want to share with you a bit of the research behind why it’s useful to do a vocal warm up.

Now, it’s the nature of scientific inquiry that researchers are often hesitant to make a conclusive statement at the end of a research project. Take for example Lynda Moorcroft and Dianna T. Kenny, researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia, who undertook a study entitled “Vocal Warm-Up Produces Acoustic Change in Singers’ Vibrato Rate.” In their article, published in 2011 in the Journal of Voice, their data showed a consistent pattern of more regular, more stable vibrato after a warm-up. In the conclusion portion of their article, they state:

“While further research is needed, it is nevertheless tempting to speculate that vocal warm-up is an important tool in both increasing levels of activation where needed while decreasing the symptoms of hyperactivity and stress, thus refining the acoustic signal of each singer’s vibrato” (Moorcroft and Kenny, 2011).

In other words: a warm up seems to be an important tool for stimulating the voice so that it can function more efficiently, thus making it sound better.

Moorcroft, Kenny, and other scientific researchers may not be able to come right out and say: “Yes! Warm up! It’s incredibly beneficial for your voice!!” But as far as science goes, their message is in fact extremely enthusiastic. Indeed, myriad studies show the huge advantage of a vocal warm up. Here are some of the other researched benefits of a warm up that we’ve pulled together:

  • When you warm up, you’re improving circulation and increasing blood flow through your muscles and other tissues. This helps them function optimally.

  • A warm up raises the temperature of your muscles. This creates less viscous resistance of muscle moving over muscle, essentially improving the efficiency of your movements. If we take, instance, the fine, small muscles of the vocal folds, this means you’re improving the efficiency of your glottal closure, which will improve tone and vocal flexibility.

  • A warm up promotes neuromuscular connectivity. This means that your nervous system is responding faster and more readily, also contributing to your efficiency.

  • In addition to all the physiological benefits, there’s a clear psychological benefit to warming up. Easing into your performance helps you mentally prepare for the task at hand.

  • A group of US researchers named Fradkin, Zazryn and Smoliga did a systematic review of 32 articles on warm ups (of the athletic variety) and concluded that a warm is shown to improve performance 79% of the time.

happy neurons

Happy, firing neurons

Convinced yet? If you’ve decided it’s time to warm up (and we hope you have!), here are some subsequent questions to ask yourself:

What am I warming up for? What is the task at hand?

This will help inform the movements and actions you want to practice.

What is the current state of my body and voice? Where am I starting from?

It’s hard to get to where you want to be until you know where you are. What parts of your body feel stiff and tight? Where are you holding your tension?

And then, informed by your answers to these first two questions you can ask…

What are the simplest and most helpful ways for me to warm up today?

And you’re on the road to designing yourself a fun, easy to do warm up routine.

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NOTE: Want help designing your warm up? We addressed these questions and offering tips for how to design your warm up (including vibration of course!) this during our free Q&A call “Amp Up Your Warm Up.” Listen here.

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