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5 Vocal Warm Up Routines for Voice Actors — Man Stretching at Desk
5 Vocal Warm Up Routines for Voice Actors — Man Stretching at Desk
Alex Mcomie 107x107
Apr 11, 2024

5 Vocal Warm Up Routines for Voice Actors

As a voice actor, you need to consistently refine your skills in order to reach the top of the craft.

At the same time, your voice will naturally vary from day to day — even from one hour to the next.

Your voice is the product of a wide range of factors including sleep, exercise, and even how much water you’ve been drinking.

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of routine and preparation for voice actors.

A quick warm up will help you fine-tune your voice so that you’re ready to nail your delivery on the first take.

In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the most effective vocal warm up routines for voice actors.

Remember that you’ll also need to prepare in other ways such as soundproofing your recording space and installing the right voice over software


1. Stretching

You might think that vocal warmups are all about the voice, but speaking involves the entire body.

Just like athletes, voice actors need to stretch and activate their muscles before performing.

Of course, it’s especially critical to stretch your mouth, neck, and 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.

You should also move your tongue around — for example, sticking it out and pressing it against the back of your teeth.

To save time, do these stretches at the same time that you’re warming up the rest of your body.

Stretching to the side will loosen your rib cage and help you project power from your lungs.

Start by standing up and holding your arms straight up.

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, then continue for a few more reps if you’re still feeling tight.

5 Vocal Warm Up Routines for Voice Actors — Woman Stretching

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.

Experiment with different stretching routines to see which ones have the best effect on your performance.


2. Breathing

Strong breathing skills are crucial when it comes to getting the most out of your voice.

Breathing exercises will help you relax your vocal folds and get your voice ready to shine.

One of the most popular breathing tactics for vocal 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 making other vocal sounds while holding the straw still.

This exercise makes the vocal tract longer, which will help improve your form while recording.

We also recommend making the hissing exercise part of your warmup routine.

Start by standing in an upright yet relaxed position, then breathe in with your mouth.

This breath should expand your belly rather than your shoulders or chest.

Once you’ve inhaled completely, exhale forcefully while making a hissing sound.

Try to keep the hiss as consistent as possible until you’ve exhaled all the air from your lungs.

You should aim to maintain the same intensity throughout the entire exercise.

Keep in mind that this is just a small selection of the vocal exercises used by voice actors and other professionals.

Check out the video below for even more ideas.

3. Tongue Twisters

Most of us mumble or gloss over words when speaking in everyday life.

We’re accustomed to imperfect pronunciation in casual speech, but it can be a glaring distraction in a voice recording.

Articulating every single word (and syllable) is one of the most difficult skills for professional voice actors to master.

Tongue twisters force you to enunciate each word clearly and avoid mixing up different sounds.

For an effective warmup, read out some tongue twisters in the same tone that you’ll use for the recording.

There are many different tongue twisters to choose from depending on the sounds you want to focus on.

Here are some of our favorites for vocal warm ups:

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
  • I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop
  • A box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits, and a biscuit mixer
  • A proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot

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.


4. Singing Scales

Basic vocal scales are a great way to build up your voice — even if you aren’t going to sing in the recording.

Pitch isn’t particularly relevant for voice actors, so focus on projecting highs and lows rather than hitting the exact right notes.

If you have time, go all the way to the top and bottom of your range.

Some actors use a classic “ooo” or “eee” sound, while others prefer a nasal sound like the one in words that end with “ng.”

You’ll know you’re making a good “ng” if the sound stops when you close your nose.


5. Lip Trills/Lip Rolls

Lip trills, also known 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.

You can enhance the basic lip trill by moving your voice up and down as if you were singing scales.

You’ll find it much more difficult to maintain your pressure and form as you move toward 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.


Final Thoughts

You might think that your voice over starts when you hit “record,” but you need to start preparing in advance if you want to give your best performance.

The way you warm up for a recording session will have a noticeable impact on the finished product.

While every voice actor has a unique routine, these five exercises are a great place to start if you’re looking for a new vocal warm up.

Want to know more? Learn what it takes to become a voice actor.

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