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Suzanne Amey Genuine VO

10 vocal warm-ups for voiceover artists

Low on time? Got a big audition? Get your voice ready with these 10 simple steps!

We all know practice makes perfect, and that applies to voiceovers as well as anything else!  Because voiceover artists use our voices professionally it is essential to warm up before starting a practice session.  Warming up is especially important before an audition when nerves can get the best of us. Here are 10 foolproof warmups I use all the time. 

1) Deep breathing.  

Before beginning to phonate (or produce sounds), take ten slow deep breaths.  You don’t need to overthink it, just imagine the air going all the way into the bottom of your lungs and filling up your whole body.  You might see your abdomen go out a bit; that’s a good sign! It means you are breathing deeply! Breathing is the engine in the car of your voice: if you are not breathing efficiently, you will not get very far.

2) Lip trills

These are also called horse lips or buzzy lips: with your lips pressed gently together blow out your air while keeping your lips closed.  It should make a “pfffft” sound. If you don’t get it the first few times try using a little more breath. Doing this exercise engages your breath and it’s also fun!  

3) Lip trills – with pitch

Using the same technique as in warmup number 2, lip trill at the bottom of your range and go up.  Then try starting at the top of your range and go down. Combine the two for a minute or two. 

4) Reading out loud

Pick up the nearest book, newspaper, magazine, menu etc., open it to any page and start reading aloud.  This will serve two purposes – first to help warm up your vocal folds (or vocal chords) and also to build up your stamina for reading aloud for long periods.  This will be vital if you are in studio for many hours or recording an audiobook.

5) Face stretches

Scrunch up your face as small as possible, now release.  Repeat.

Stick your tongue out as far as possible and try to touch your chin and then your nose.  If you yawn that’s great – It means you are relaxing.

6) Tongue twisters

You can find these on any google search, but here are a few I like:

Any noise annoys an oyster, but a noisy noise annoys an oyster most.

Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.

Practice each one 3 times.  For an extra level of difficulty, try one or two of these with a straw place horizontally between your front teeth.  Your pronunciation will improve in no time!

7) Consonants

Go through each consonant of the alphabet (b, c, d, f, g … to z) and add an “ah” sound after it.

Starting on “Bah,” say “Bah Bah Bah Bah” then do a triplet:  “Bah bah bah, Bah bah bah” then a quadruplet “Bah bah bah bah, Bah bah bah bah”

Move on to “Cah” (you can say “Ka” or “Sa”) and do the same pattern.

Progress through the alphabet until you reach “Zah”.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, the point is to warm up your articulators (which are more commonly known simply as your lips).

8) Humming

If you have training in music, you’ll understand what I mean when I recommend humming a scale or a pattern of five notes ascending and then descending.  If this last sentence made no sense to you, have no fear. Hum part of a song you know well, even if it’s just “happy birthday” or the national anthem. The purpose of doing this is to encourage the lubrication of the vocal folds (or vocal chords).  Do this for a few minutes and you will be almost totally warmed up for speaking.

9) Body warm-up

Turn your head from side to side two or three times.   Raise your arms above your head and swing them through their full range of motion.  Shrug your shoulders up and then release them. Lift your left leg as if you are about the step over an obstacle, then put it back down on the ground.  Now lift your right let and place it back on the ground. March in place with high knees for 20 seconds. Repeat several times.

10) Tongue relaxation

The tongue can hold a lot of tension in our day to day life, so take a moment in your vocal warmup to work on this.  It’s important with this exercise to be a little silly and not take yourself very seriously. Start with your mouth closed and prepare to make a “b” sound with your tongue behind your front teeth.  Open your mouth and stick out your tongue as far as possible while saying “bluh.” Repeat this several times and gently shake your head from side to side to release any tension in your neck and to make the exercise as silly as possible.  This is not meant to sound pretty, so have fun with it!

I hope you enjoyed reading my top 10 warmups!  I particularly like these ones because they are easy to remember and don’t require a lot of skill or knowledge about the voice and so they are unlikely to cause strain or vocal wear and tear.  Try one (or all) of them out and let me know if you use them!

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