I am on a contract in Phoenix until Christmas and this particular week we have three student matinees. Call time 9:30AM - performance ready at 10AM. It's early to be singing. (I mean, it would be worse. At least it isn't a 5 am performance on the Today Show.)
There are many times when we need to bring our A-game in the morning...cough, cough...auditions. Maybe you are giving a presentation at 9:30 am. Or maybe you are teaching a Pilates class at 7 am. It's part of the job and your voice needs to be ready.
Morning voice is real, and it got me thinking, what are some ways to expedite the warm-up process if we don't have many hours throughout the course of a day?
Don't be like this dude. Drinking three venti coffees isn't the best way to combat your morning voice.
Here are some tips for getting your voice to wake up quickly:
1. Get a good night's sleep.
Some people prefer waking up at the crack of dawn in order to give their body and voice time to get warm. For me personally, I would prefer getting an extra hour of sleep. If you aren't sleeping 7-8 hours, your voice will not be on the fast track to being performance or audition ready in the wee hours of the morning.
2. Physical Warm Up
Once you've gotten some solid sleep, you should get the body moving. Run, jump, lift weights....just get the blood pumping. Even if you don't have time to hit the gym before you need to sing, do some jumping jacks or mountain climbers for 2-3 minutes. The voice will follow the body, so some morning exercise will go a long way with streamlining your vocal warm-up.
This one is huge...I have been using this tool a lot lately and it has helped so much in waking up the voice. I recommend a Z-vibe, but an electric toothbrush will also do the trick. Both of these tools target "dead" areas that do not readily vibrate during phonation. The Z-vibe is especially handy in the morning after a night of sleeping. Use it on your teeth, tongue, hard and soft palates to invigorate the nerves so that vibrations are better felt when you are singing!
After you have stimulated the nervous system with some vibes, grab a straw and begin to do some pitch glides from low to high. This is a great way for the vocal folds to stretch and unpress and create a model for easy singing. Following the pitch glides, try some "hills" or "accents", resembling a motorcycle revving its engine.
Mouth breathing is common in the nighttime, so sometimes we wake up with morning dryness. Steam is a great way to directly hydrate the vocal muscles. The voice is happy when it is moisturized, and it will definitely feel easier to sing post-steaming. Vicks sells great personal steamers, but you can also go the old-fashioned way by boiling a pot of water and inhale the steam with a towel cover.
If you can implement all five of these steps in the morning, you will find that your voice is more easily available to you.
RECAP: The 5 S's of the morning warm-up: Sleep, Sprint, Stimulate, Straw, Steam.
GO GET IT!