written by Melissa Ellen, vocal instructor at Metro Music Makers
The rule is: The shorter the performance, the longer the warm-up, and vice-versa.
*If you are singing three songs or less, you should warm up for at least one hour. Yes, an hour. If your gig is four hours (sets), you should spend more time on cardio, stretching and breathing exercises, and only a little on vocal warm-up. For a longer performance, you can put songs in the first set that are easier for you to sing. If you want to warm up your high range in the first set, just make sure to choose songs that have some high parts, but do not ask you to push power in the upper register. If you have a showcase that consists of four to six songs, warm-up your voice for at least 45 minutes to an hour and arrange the set so the songs that push your voice more are toward the end. If all of your songs are power tunes, warm up for 30 minutes.
*It is imperative that you know your voice well enough to know what you are capable of and how long your voice will last. If you are relatively new at singing, then your voice may not hold out for an hour of warm up prior to performing. By the same token, an experienced singer/ performer who does not exercise every day may have limitation as well. Someone who sings four sets a night on a regular basis can obviously handle singing for long periods of time, but will probably need at least one hour to warm up in order to perform only one song.
*Part of warming-up every day and practicing is getting to know your capabilities. Be sure to know your voice and ONLY do what you know you can handle.
*Make sure that you have already practiced your material and gone over your performance many times before event day. The day of the gig IS NOT the time to be working on your lyrics or inflections. Know your material so you can focus on doing your best and having a good time.
*Keep in mind that you are who you are and sound how you sound at that moment when you go onstage. That won’t change. In other words, do not waste energy trying to do something new or be someone else. Do what you know. Be who you are.