7 Voice-Over Warm Ups to Prepare your Voice to Perform at its Best

Voice Over Warm Up Warmup Warm-up VO

Just like athletes, musicians, and other professionals take time to warm up before they perform or compete, so must a voice talent in order to ensure his or her voice is ready to be at its best. In this post, we'll look at 7 different exercises along with audio examples, that you can use to warm up your voice, as well as some tips and strategies for how to use them.

You can download a 10 minute Guided Warmup Routine utilizing these exercises, as well as the individual MP3 versions of each exercise in the Resource Package for this post.
 

Warming Up: Why, When, and How

Why

Warming up your voice is essential to delivering a great performance in front of the mic. Chances are when you wake up in the morning your voice isn't quite at 100%. A brief vocal warm up can help loosen up the cords and get yourself ready for the auditions and jobs ahead of you by going through your range and "activating" or "waking up" the different parts of your voice. Warming up can also help minimize the occurrence of mistakes, mouth noise, and voice cracks.

When

One of the most obvious times to warm up is in the morning before you set about your workload for the day. Most people need a short bit of time for their voice to be at its full potential after they wake up in the morning. Incorporating a vocal warm up into your morning routine is a great way to create a habit and start every day with your voice at its best.

Another good time to warm up is directly before any live sessions. Live-Directed sessions can come with an added bit of pressure as you will have one or more people "looking over your shoulder" as you work and you want to minimize mistakes to make the best impression.  Going through a quick warm up routine before live sessions is a great way to prepare and ensure the session runs smoothly and you leave the clients impressed.

How

You don't need a very lengthy warm up routine in order to get your voice where it needs to be. Likely 10-20 minutes is enough to shake out the cobwebs and wake up your range. Create a routine for yourself that includes exercises that address the main issues you struggle with and stick to performing it on a daily basis. See which exercises feel good for you and which don't and create your own customized routine.

 

VO Warmup Exercises

Now let's look at 7 specific warm up exercises you can include in your own routine, along with audio examples of each.

1. Lip Rolls/Lip Trills

If you're a singer or have ever taken vocal lessons, you've probably encountered these before as they are a very popular exercise for singers. Lip Rolls are a great way to wake up your range and move through your different vocal registers. 

How to Perform:

To do a Lip Roll, keep your mouth closed and produce a "B" sound while keeping a constant flow of air. This should cause your lips to quickly vibrate - creating the "rolling" or "trill" sound. If you have trouble getting your lips to do this, you can gently press in on your cheeks while performing the exercise. 

Start by doing the exercise on a single straight pitch in your speaking range, and once you get comfortable, move through your vocal range to warm up your voice.

How it Sounds:

2. Tongue Trills

Tongue Trills are similar to Lip Rolls but cause a vibration in your tongue rather than your lips and are another great way to move through your range, while activating a different resonance in your voice.

How to Perform:

Start with your mouth in a neutral position, slightly open and produce either a "D" or a "G" sound, whichever is more comfortable. Keep a constant breath flow and feel the tip of your tongue vibrating against the roof of your mouth. Again, start on a single pitch and once you are comfortable, move through your range on the exercise. Don't worry so much about going super high or super low with it, focus more on the technique.

How it Sounds:

3. "M" Sound

The "M" sound is a good way to activate resonance in the front of your mouth and face and you should feel vibration here as you perform it.

How to Perform:

Simply make an "M" sound with a closed mouth and use constant breath flow to keep the sound full and consistent, without drastic changes in volume or intensity. Hold the sound for a few seconds on a single pitch and then move through your range with it.

How it Sounds:

4. "N" Sound

The "N" Sound also activates some resonance in the front of your face, but moves it slightly higher than the "M" sound and into the nose area.

How to Perform:

Keeping your mouth closed and in a neutral position, produce a constant "N" sound and move through your range while keeping it consistent in force and volume. You may feel your tongue gently touching the roof of your mouth.

How it Sounds:

5. "L" Sound

The "L" sound activates some resonance a little further back in your head and throat area than the previous "M" and "N" sound and you should feel the vibration here as you perform it.

How to Perform:

Allow your tongue to gently press against the back of your top teeth and your mouth to slightly open. Produce an "L" sound with consistent volume and intensity and move through your range with it.

How it Sounds:

6. "Z" Sound

The "Z" sound is another good one to activate resonance in the front of your mouth and face with a more open sound than the previous exercises.

How to Perform:

With your teeth closed (but not clenched) and your mouth slightly open, produce a constant "Z" sound, again keeping volume and intensity consistent throughout. Start on a single comfortable pitch, and then move through your range.

How it Sounds:

7. "NG" sound

This is another popular one with singers that you may be familiar with. The "NG" sound is a great way to activate your nasal resonance and you should feel vibration in your nose and sinus area when performing this one.

How to Perform:

The main sound to focus on is the "NG" - you can use a variety of different vowel sounds in front of it and perform either "Uung" (As in the word "cook") or "Ung" (as in the word "Young"), "ahng" (as in the word "On"), or "aang" (as in the word "Sang"). Start with the vowel sound that you choose and let it morph into the "NG" sound, once the "NG" sound is flowing, keep it consistent and move through your range.

How it Sounds:

In Conclusion...

Vocal warm ups are a great way to activate the different registers, resonances, and tonalities of your voice and create flexibility and comfort. Different exercises such as Lip Rolls, Tongue Trills, M, N, L, Z, and NG sounds can warm up different areas of your vocal sound to create a great amount of overall flexibility and have your voice performing at its best in auditions and jobs.

 

If you've been using any of these exercises successfully or have any additional ones that are essential to your warm up routine, I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below.

Action Steps

Reading, learning, and absorbing content is great - but it does absolutely nothing if you don't take action. With that in mind, here are some action steps you can take based on the info in this post.

Reading, learning, and absorbing content is great - but it does absolutely nothing if you don't take action. With that in mind, here are some action steps you can take based on the info in this post.

Run through the 7 exercises in this post and feel which ones seem to have the most effect and use for you. Then create your own specific warm up routine incorporating some or all of these 7 exercises. For example, a routine can be: 3 Rounds of Lip Rolls, 3 Round of Tongue Trills, then 1 of each M, N, L, and Z, followed by 2 rounds of NG. 

You can download the MP3s of each exercise in the Resource Package below and import them into your audio editing software and create an actual audio warm up for yourself, which you can then save as a single MP3 to listen to and warm up along with.

Further Reading:

Voice Over Resources

For those of you who experience trouble with specific sounds in certain words and phrases, here's a link to a great article by Rodney Saulsberry with some additional exercises and tongue twisters you can use to familiarize your voice with troublesome sounds.

https://www.voiceoverxtra.com/article.htm?id=PHKATGJR

Resource Package

VO Resources

Click the button below to download the Free Resource Package for this post. It includes a PDF version of the post for offline reading as well as a guided 10-minute VO Warmup Routine MP3, and the MP3 versions of the different exercises that you can use to create your own custom warm up routine.