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Easy Vocal Exercises for Aspiring Singers

The School of Voice / Musician Resources / Easy Vocal Exercises for Aspiring Singers

March 29, 2024
a visual representation of a singer's vocal journey through a series of progressive vocal exercises
Unleash your full vocal potential with our extensive guide to vocal exercises, designed to help you master key singing elements including breath control, tone consistency, and range expansion. Establish a powerful singing practice through basic breathing exercises, warm-up routines, and pitch training techniques.

Every journey begins with a single step, and for aspiring singers, that initial stride is understanding and practicing the right vocal exercises. Whether you’re looking to hit those high notes seamlessly, add power to your performance, or simply sing your favorite songs with more finesse, cultivating your voice through targeted workouts is crucial.

Designed as a practical guide, this comprehensive walkthrough of vocal exercises aims to equip beginner singers with the tools needed for vocal improvement, expanding range, strength, and flexibility.

At the core of a singer’s progression lies a series of vocal exercises, a blend of science and art that can monumentally improve singing capabilities.

Beginning with the basics, it’s essential to dive into what vocal exercises are and why they should be an integral part of any singer’s regime. The foundation for good singing – proper breathing techniques – sets the stage for powerful and controlled vocals. Simple practices like breathing with a book or sustained hisses can significantly influence your diaphragmatic breathing skills, providing you with the breath support needed for robust singing.

“Vocal exercises are specific techniques that help singers develop their skills and maintain vocal health.” explains Katrina Pfitzner. “By regularly practicing these exercises, you can strengthen your vocal muscles, improve your breath control, and expand your range.”

Basic Breath Exercises

Proper breathing is the foundation of good singing. Diaphragmatic breathing, which involves engaging your diaphragm to support your breath, is essential for achieving a strong, steady tone. Try these exercises to improve your breathing:

Long slow breath

The simplest exercise to introduce breathing with the diaphragm is to take a simple, slow, long breath in through the nose, hold for 3 seconds, and let the breath out slowly through the mouth in a steady stream. You should imagine the breath out like you are blowing your breath through a straw.

Breathing with a book

Lie on your back with a book on your stomach. Breathe deeply, focusing on raising the book as you inhale and lowering it as you exhale.

Maybe not for everyone, only try this if you feel comfortable.

Sustained hisses

Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, making a hissing sound. Aim to sustain the hiss for as long as possible.

Vocal exercises for warm up

Sirens, humming, and lip buzzing

Sirens work the whole range of the voice. You should begin at the very bottom of your range and slowly work through the whole voice up to the very highest part of your range and back down to the bottom of your range. The whole time you should focus on keeping the neck relaxed and loose. Perform the same exercise with your mouth closed in a hum and then with a lip buzz or lip trill.

Lip buzz or lip trill is like the sound a horse makes. Blow air through your lips, making them vibrate. Start on a comfortable pitch and glide up and down your range.

Humming scales: Hum up and down a scale, focusing on a smooth, even tone.

Vowel formation with pitch

Once you have properly warmed up your breath with some basic breathing exercises and sirens, you should add pitch.

Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a sound. Being able to accurately match pitch is a fundamental skill for singers. Try these exercises to improve your pitch:

Keyboard or App-assisted Pitch Matching

Simply use a piano or a pitch-training app to play notes, then try to match them with your voice.

Any instrument requires tuning, and your voice is no different. These warm-ups help in attaining a consistent tone.


A very simple exercise is to work through each vowel on one note (A-E-I-O-U) (Ah-Eh-Ee-Oh-Oo). Start in a very middle easy note and focus on staying on that note while moving through each of the vowel sounds. After you have completed the round, move up one whole or half step. Continue for about 8-10 rounds, or an octave.

Solfege scale practice

Sing a scale using the solfege syllables (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do), focusing on accurate pitch.

3 note scales

Once you have established pitch with vowels, you can move into scales.

You should begin with 3 notes in a simple scale up and down (C-D-E-D-C). Use a voiced consonant with an open vowel of choice (open vowels would be Ah, Eh, Oh, voiced consonants examples would be Ss or Zz ). You should take this exercise up about 10-14 half steps, and you can run the exercise back down as well. As you move higher into your range, you can open to the most open of vowels (Ah) to give your throat the most room to expand.

What is a voiced consonant? A voiced consonant is a consonant sound that engages the vocal chords.

5 note scales

Once you have mastered 3 notes in a simple scale, you should move to 5 notes (C-D-E-F-G-F-E-D-C). Continue that same exercise as above with the expanded notes. This exercise should run up about 10-14 half steps, and take it back down as well. Just as above, you should open to the most open vowel at the top of your range to allow the most space in your throat and mouth.

3 note arpeggios

Now that you have mastered scales, move into an arpeggio. An arpeggio is a skip in notes (C-E-G-E-C). Perform the same as above with an open vowel and a voiced consonant. Move through your range 10-14 half steps.

Lip trills with scales

Perform lip trills while singing scales, focusing on a smooth, even transition between notes.

Tongue trills with arpeggios

Perform tongue trills (rolling your Rs) while singing arpeggios (the notes of a chord played in sequence).

Staccato scales

Sing scales using short, detached notes, focusing on quick, precise movements between notes.

Tongue twisters

Sing tongue twisters, focusing on clear enunciation of each word.

Melismatic singing exercises

Practice singing melismas (multiple notes sung on a single syllable) by starting with simple, two-note melismas and gradually increasing in complexity.

It’s essential to understand: vocal exercises are not just for warming up; they are crucial for long-term vocal development.

Katrina Pfitzner

Incorporating Songs into Practice

As you become more comfortable with these exercises, start incorporating them into your song practice. Choose songs that are appropriate for your skill level and that allow you to apply the techniques you’ve been working on. Remember to start slowly and focus on accuracy before increasing speed or complexity.

Practicing Regularly and Setting Goals

Consistent practice is key to seeing improvement in your singing. Set aside dedicated time each day to work on your vocal exercises, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Set realistic goals for yourself, such as mastering a new technique or expanding your range by a certain number of notes, and track your progress over time. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate your successes along the way.

Singing is a skill that can be developed and refined with dedication and practice. By incorporating these practical vocal exercises into your routine, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more confident and capable singer. Remember, the journey of vocal development is a lifelong one, full of challenges and rewards. Embrace the process, stay curious, and most importantly, enjoy the joy of singing.

Embarking on the journey of vocal development is both exhilarating and challenging. With regular practice and a dedication to mastering these exercises, the dream of singing with clarity, power, and emotion is well within reach. Beyond the scales, trills, and exercises lies the joy of music and the unrivaled pleasure of sharing your voice with the world. So, tune in, warm up, and let the world hear what you have to offer.

Breathing & Warm Up Exercises For Singers

Additional Resources

“The Vocal Athlete” by Wendy D. LeBorgne and Marci Daniels Rosenberg. Wendy D. LeBorgne PhD, CCC-SLP, is a voice pathologist, a singing voice specialist.

“The Singer’s Manual of German and French Diction” by Richard Cox

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