As a voice actor, consistently honing your skills is critical if you want to stay on top of your craft.
At the same time, your vocal performances will naturally vary from day to day and even from one hour to the next.
Your voice could be affected by a wide range of factors including sleep, exercise, and even the amount of water you’ve been drinking.
If you want to create professional-quality voice recordings, you need to take preparation as seriously as the performance.
A quick warm up before each recording will help you get your voice ready and nail the delivery on your first take.
In this article, we’ll take a look at ten of the most effective vocal warm up routines for voice actors.
You won’t be at your best as a voice actor unless your entire body is ready to record.
Just like athletes, voice actors need to stretch and activate their muscles before performing.
While every area is important, it’s especially critical to stretch your mouth, neck, and other parts of the upper body.
You can quickly warm up your mouth by moving it between different extremes such as maintaining a wide grin and fully opening your jaw.
Since your tongue is also heavily involved in enunciation, you should also move it around by sticking it out and pressing it against the back of your teeth.
If you’re short on time, you can also stretch your mouth at the same time that you warm up the rest of your body.
Stretching to the side, for example, will loosen your rib cage and help you project more power from your lungs.
Start by standing up and pushing your arms straight up above your body.
From there, lean to one side as far as you comfortably can, then hold the position for at least a few seconds.
Repeat the stretch on the other side, and don’t hesitate to continue for a few more reps if you’re still feeling tight.
Other classic stretches like rolling your neck, touching your toes, and stretching your arms across your body can help you maximize your voice and simply feel better in general.
Try to experiment with different stretching routines and see which ones have the best effect on your performance.
Strong breathing skills are crucial when it comes to getting the most out of your voice.
Warming up with some quick breathing exercises will help you relax your vocal folds and make sure your voice is ready to shine during the actual recording.
One of the most popular breathing exercises for voice actors and other performers is known as the straw trick.
Putting a straw in your mouth will force you to focus on a single point and make it easier to control your breathing patterns.
Along with breathing, you can also try humming or creating other vocal sounds while holding the straw still.
This warm up makes the vocal tract longer than it is while your mouth is relaxed, which will help improve your form while recording.
The hissing exercise is another popular warm up that helps voice actors project more power when speaking.
Start by standing in an upright yet relaxed position, then use your mouth to breathe in.
Keep in mind that this breath should expand your belly rather than move your shoulders or chest.
After breathing in, exhale forcefully while making a hissing sound.
Try to keep the hiss as consistent as you can until you’ve exhaled all the air from your lungs.
Your goal is to maintain the same intensity throughout the entire exercise.
These are just a few of the different breathing exercises used by voice actors and other professionals.
Check out the video below for more ideas on how to get your voice ready for an upcoming recording session.
It’s common for people to mumble or gloss over some words when speaking in everyday life.
On the other hand, that doesn’t hold up as well in voice acting.
Articulating every single word (and syllable) is one of the most important and difficult skills for professional voice actors to master.
Tongue twisters force you to enunciate each word clearly and avoid mixing up different sounds.
Try to read out your tongue twisters in the same tone you plan to use for the upcoming recording.
There are many different tongue twisters to choose from depending on the sounds you want to focus on.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite tongue twisters for vocal warm ups:
Of course, the important thing is that tongue twisters prepare you to navigate even the most complicated part of the script you plan to read.
There are hundreds and hundreds of tongue twisters to choose from, so feel free to use the ones that you feel give you the best warm up.
Even if you’re not going to sing, going through some basic vocal scales is a great way to get your voice ready.
Since perfect pitch isn’t particularly relevant for voice actors, you should be focused more on projecting highs and lows as opposed to hitting the right notes.
If you have time, go all the way to the top and bottom of your vocal range.
While actors often do this with a classic “ooo” or “eee” sound, some prefer to perform this exercise with a nasal sound like the one in words that end with “ing.”
You’ll know you’re making a good “ng” if the sound stops when you close your nose.
Lip trills, sometimes referred to as lip rolls, are another good warm up for voice actors, singers, and other vocal performers.
World-famous singer Celine Dion demonstrates lip trills near the beginning of the video below:
To perform a lip trill, hold your lips together so that your mouth is completely closed.
From there, do a “B” sound so that your mouth vibrates without your lips coming apart.
Make sure to avoid falling into a “P” since the “P” sound is unvoiced.
Like singing scales, you should try to enhance the basic lip trill by moving your voice up and down within your range.
You’ll find that it becomes much more difficult to maintain the same pressure and form as you move closer to the edges of your range.
If you notice that you’re falling out of a strong trill, take a second to reset and then go back to the exercise.
You might think that your voice over starts when you hit “record,” but you need to get ready for that moment in advance to give your best performance.
The way you warm up and generally prepare for a recording session will have a noticeable impact on the finished product.
While every voice actor has a unique routine, these ten exercises are a great place to start if you’re looking for a new vocal warm up.
Want to learn more? Read about what it takes to become a voice actor.