Behind every great live performance is a practical and efficient preperformance routine. The purpose of the routine is to help prepare you prepare for the mental, physical and vocal demands of what’s required of you on stage.
For singers, their instrument is in their bodies, so performing optimally is an entire body experience. It’s not just about doing a vocal warm-up and away you go. Your entire system needs to be ready. So my advice is carve out a routine for yourself that includes these three main components:
Mind Prep: First it all starts with your mind. Wellness practices such as, mindfulness meditation, visualization techniques, journaling, prayer, saying affirmations, do whatever it takes to get your headspace right before your show. We all have stresses and hardships and performance requires you to put those aside so you can execute well. Give yourself a 15-20 minute mind-centred routine. Try out different practices that speak to you. I love the Headspace app. I also love journaling. And hey, a little visualization goes a long way!
Body Prep: Even if you aren’t doing any dancing on stage, your pre-show routine should include a physical warm-up. If you tend to be nervous before a show or audition, grounding practices such as yoga can be affective to help calm your nervous system down. If you tend to be too laid-back or doubtful before performance, and want to ramp things up then it may be time to get hyped up! Try 5-7 minutes of jump rope or dancing. A brief cardio session can help get the blood flowing and increase your lung capacity which can be so helpful for singing.
Whatever route you take remember to carve out some stretch time. Stretching is so beneficial for singers and can really open the body up and minimize tension.
Voice prep: And last but not least, prepare your voice. The length the warm-up will depend on how long of a show you have. The type of warm-up would depend on what your set list is like, what the range and vocal load is like. So consult with your voice teacher on what exercises are best. Get a clean voice memo recording that you can take with you on the go. Your warm-up can look like: SOVT exercises, such as straw phonation, lip trills; vowel consonant combinations with different scale patterns. If you are doing a lot of high belt stuff, maybe some pharyngeal voice exercises. If you are doing a lot of ballads with long held notes, be sure to include sustains in your warm-up.
If you’re looking for a general warm-up check out my brand new mini-course Pre-show Vocal Workout for both high and low voices. This short sequence targets both the lower and upper registers, and will leave you feeling vocally ready to take on those challenges in your songs.
One thing I want to highlight here is don’t use your preperformance prep time as a dress rehearsal. You don’t need to sing the entire set list and fatigue yourself. So keep your routine short and practical.