Mark, Mike, Warm/Cool



How to Practice

Marking*, playing piano, thinking through the music, listening to recordings – are all good alternate ideas to really singing out for the entire practice session. When the tune is really settled in your voice, then sing out and plan how much energy is needed for each phrase and each note.


Warm Up and Cool Down

Most singers understand how to warm up the voice, just as runners stretch out feet, ankles, knees, etc. before running a race or jogging. However, most runners do NOT run marathons before they have trained and first run many shorter races, nor before they have studied and practiced the techniques for endurance races. Too many singers call upon their voices to do “marathon” singing before they are really ready to sing in such a way.


Warm Up means literally to warm up the body and the throat, too – NOT just singing up and down some scales and assuming one is ready after the required 10 minutes! Listen to your voice. “Listen” to your body. If you cannot do what you usually do with ease after a “sufficient” warm up, then you are NOT ready yet. Your warm up has NOT been sufficient! Return to warm ups and add two or three different ones. (See TK’s list and the purpose of each choice) Massage the throat area, do light calisthenics, and then try singing again Be attentive to EVERYTHING that transpires and let this be a guide to your readiness for “short races” as well as “Marathon “ singing.


Cool Down

A point often missed is the cool down period after much singing. Being warmed up means that blood has run to the throat area to help the muscles work efficiently. After much singing, this area must calm down and cool down, especially before cold air hits it. Many singers have shawls or scarves for their throats to protect against the cold weather. After a strenuous rehearsal, please stay inside a warm building for 10 minutes or so before you go outside into the cold. If you must leave immediately, keep you mouth shut and bundle up with a scarf. Also, covering your mouth with the scarf and breathing “through” the scarf is a good idea if the weather is extremely cold.


Women’s Chest Voice

How high is too high? Each of you has carried your chest voice up beyond the logical limit. It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t sound good, it cold be flat, and you yourself know where your limit is. (different for each singer) If you do not practice your high notes in chest voice in lessons and in the practice room with some supervision and intelligence, how can you expect to be successful with that range and timbre in public? With steady practice, you can strengthen your head voice until it is just as strong and powerful as your chest voice. Then you will have ONE strong, even sounding voice from top to bottom.




The mike can be very helpful is “saving” you voice, but remember it is somewhat different from live singing. Consonants can be slighted (use much less sibilant S, less explosive “pop” in P, etc.) Let the mike add the volume. You need only to produce good focused tone that the mike will pick up and enhance. For diminuendo effect, continue singing at mf and pull the mike away. Hold the mike straight in front of your mouth with the bottom end pointing at the audience. Do NOT hold the mike like an ice cream cone. You will miss the focus a mike can give you. Rely on the mike to make effects for you and mike singing can be healthy and restful and successful.


Long rehearsals

Go to a rehearsal with a time limit in mind. Plan your warm up accordingly. If you must sing for 2 to 3 hours, warm up slowly and be 80% ready when you appear. Ask about a vocal plan for the 3 hours. Try to mark* for some of the rehearsal and then ask when full singing is really needed. Don’t sing out the entire time. Communication with the conductor is the best answer for surviving a long rehearsal.



Marking is an acceptable way of saving your voice, especially in a long rehearsal, when you are not 100% well, and/or when you haven’t had a chance to warm up first. Ask the conductor if you may mark for the entire rehearsal, for part of it, etc. If you are well prepared musically, marking should be allowed for some of the time. What is marking? Some singers sing down an octave, some use a floating head voice, some use falsetto completely (the sky voice!), or just for extreme high notes. Some even omit high notes and raise an index finger in the air to represent how long the note would be. Use any mixture of these ideas. For balance purposes and ensemble rehearsals, marking may not be allowed. If the conductor has never heard of marking, explain the concept and remind the conductor that your voice needs to be 100% for every performance, but not for every rehearsal. Each singer should know limits and learn to save as needed. Professional singers mark at several rehearsals and then sound glorious and rested at each performance!!!


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