Vocal Warm-Ups

Vocal Warm-Ups

Being an actor means having full control not only of your body, but also your vocal chords. Actors who have great potential must learn to command attention or power through their voice. They must understand how to control their voice and they must take care of this vital acting tool.

Although there are literally hundreds of different vocal exercises, below are some of the most effective we've  used in the dept.

Perform these exercises at least once a day to keep your voice in tip-top-shape.



Face Massage
Massage your face with your fingertips as well as with the palm of your hands. Apply light pressure to your jaw and nasal-labial folds, also known as your laugh-lines. Make sure you also massage your forehead. Since you'll be touching your face, make sure your hands are recently cleaned to prevent clogging your pores with dirt and debris.

The Hummmmm
This is one of the most effective vocal warmups, and I personally do this before any speaking engagement. Sit with your back straight, and take a deep inhale that expands your diaphragm. During your exhale, vocalize the sound, "Hummmmmmm" until you have no more breath. Repeat five times.

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha
This is a great exercise to help give control into your voice and breathing. Stand with your shoulders resting and your face pointing forward. Place your hand on your abdomen, and breathe in so your abdomen expands (also known as diaphragm breathing). During your exhale, make static "Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha." noises. With every "Ha," push in your abdomen to force the sound out of you. Note: this is not an extended note, but rather staccato.

Sit or stand comfortably, and repeat the sound "Guh" five to ten times. Do this in the same manner as the above exercise.

Sit or stand comfortably, and repeat the sound "Pah" five to ten times.

Sit or stand comfortably, and repeat the sound "Kah" five to ten times in a staccato fashion.

Sit or stand comfortably, and repeat the sound "Buh" five to ten times in a staccato fashion.

Me, Me, Me, Maaahhhhh
Standing or sitting, repeat the following phrase "Me, Me, Me" performed in a staccato fashion, and finally follow with an extended "Maaahhhhhh" as your exhale your full breath.


Deep Breathing

Deep breath in and hold
Exhale to a count of ten.

Deep Breathing II

Deep breath in and hold
Drop over like a puppet.
Exhale and come back up to standing position on a count of ten (snapping as you come up)


Learning Goal - for the student to be able to find a clarity in their speech and to begin building better pronunciation skills.

- Be sure and say these in only one breath, but never go faster than you are able to go and still keep the clarity of each word in the phrase!

(there are more on the handout from the instructor)


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

A tutor who tooted the flute,
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it easier to toot,
Or to tutor two tooters to toot?"*

Bobby Bibbit bought a bat.
Bobby Bibbit bought a ball.
With the bat, Bob banged the ball,
Banged the ball against the wall.

Amidst the mists and fiercest frosts,
With barest wrists and stoutest boasts,
He thrusts his fists against the post,
And still insists he sees the ghosts.**



These are not singing exercises, these are simply exercises to get students used to using their voice. They are exercises that everyone can do at once.

They sound a little goofy and can act as great warm-up!



Work the face:

Scrunch the face up tight and yawn it out as far as it will go. Have students make the face their mother always warned them about: 'If you make a face like that, it'll stay that way!'



Everyone stands in a circle and imagines they are chewing.

Give instructions: That they should work their jaw in conjunction to whatever's in their mouth.

Some chew options are:
  • bubble gum (1 piece, 2 pieces, 3 pieces)
  • super sticky taffy
  • carrots
  • teeny tiny pretzels
  • stale licorice

Then throw in something completely non chewable like soup.



Start by buzzing the lips. Make motor boat sounds that start high and then go low. Don't think about notes, just think about sound.

  • Move to humming. How long can they hum on a breath?

  • Move on to making noise with an open mouth. Keep the sound going as students close the mouth and open it again.

  • Make a short staccato sound on a ha-ha-ha-ha




Articulation Excercise: "Seuss on Socks"

This will force you to:

- Open your mouth
- Articulate
- Speak clearly 

At first it looks tremendously tricky, but it isn’t.

There’s only 13 lines, which means that if you really want to nail it, it will take becoming confident on two lines per day for the next 7 days.  Within a week, you will be able to rattle it off with ease and perfect articulation. 

Give it a go, it’s a great little challenge!!!

About Socks

Give me the gift of a grip-top sock,
A clip drape shipshape tip top sock.

Not your spinslick slapstick slipshod stock,
But a plastic, elastic grip-top sock.

None of your fantastic slack swap slop
From a slap dash flash cash haberdash shop.

Not a knick knack knitlock knockneed knickerbocker sock
With a mock-shot blob-mottled trick-ticker top clock.

Not a supersheet seersucker ruck sack sock,
Not a spot-speckled frog-freckled cheap sheik’s sock

Off a hodge-podge moss-blotched scotch-botched block.
Nothing slipshod drip drop flip flop or glip glop

Tip me to a tip top grip top sock.   - Dr. Seuss

See if you can get it down to doing it in about 25 seconds, while retaining the clarity of speech.

If you can do it in 20 seconds and retain beautiful articulation, then you’ve really cracked it!




It's Hard to Say

If you prepare by doing a few voice exercises regularly, you'll be better prepared when it comes time to perform.
A good way to improve one's delivery of normal phrases is to practice on difficult ones.

PART ONE: Examples from actual scripts or publications.

NOTE: the test is not whether a phrase has long, complex words -- a mental challenge -- but simply whether its phonetic structure makes it really hard to say.

From corporate media, ads, and elsewhere
(for actor educational use only!)

  • A twenty-two point two cubic foot frost free refrigerator-freezer.

  • X-dot-Desktop. (The pronunciation of X.Desktop, a real-life Unix-based software product from SCO.)
  • A central ice crystal's six similar sides determine a snowflake's six-way similarity.
  • Withdraw five milliliters from the top of the platelet-poor plasma.

  • A lower-cost alternative to traditional plans.
  • A one half-inch insulin syringe.
  • [Brand X gum gives you] that just brushed freshness.

PART TWO: Diction exercises that are intended to be hard to pronounce.

These "tongue-twisters" are, for the non-professional, just fun (or frustrating!) to read. However, they're categorized by the specific vocal elements that each exercise targets.

Exercises for Consonants

  • High roller, low roller, lower roller.
  • I need a box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits, and a biscuit mixer.
  • He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.

  • The jolly collie swallowed a lollipop.

  • The sick sister's zither ceaseth; therefore she sufficeth us.

  • Friday's Five Fresh Fish Specials.

  • Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.

  • The Leith police dismisseth us.

  • Twixt this and six thick thistle sticks.

  • Red leather, yellow leather.

  • She sells sea shells by the seashore,
    and the shells she sells are sea shells.
  • The sixth Sikh Sheik's sixth sheep's sick. (Technically, "sheik" should be pronounced like the English word "shake" -- but that would throw off the rhyme with "sheep." Try it both ways!)

  • Three free thugs set three thugs free.

  • Charles deftly switched straight flange strips.

  • Gwen glowered and grimaced at Glen's gleaming greens.


PART THREE: Exercises for Vowels

  • Fancy! That fascinating character Harry McCann married Anne Hammond. (This may look easy, but if you are not pronouncing all the "short a" sounds identically, you have work to do.)

  • Lot lost his hot chocolate at the loft.

  • Snoring Norris was marring the aria.

PART FOUR: Exercises for Everything

  • Eleven benevolent elephants.
  • Girl gargoyle, guy gargoyle.
  • Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
  • She stood on the balcony inexplicably mimicking him hiccupping and amicably welcoming him in.
  • Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings.

PART FIVE :Repeaters

I've set these aside a special class of tongue twister -- the kind that becomes more challenging the more you say it. So if you don't find each one "hard to say" at first, just keep repeating it until you do!

  • Unique New York.
  • Toy boat.
  • Lemon liniment.
  • Three free throws.
  • Blue black bugs blood.
  • Red lorry, yellow lorry.
  • Giggle gaggle gurgle.



Go to the following site for a
lot more excercises and vocal warm-up ideas.


*Play the videos for "Articulation and resonation"

*There is also a great singer's warm-up video 

*One for breathing too! 


  1. Thank you for this series of wonderful exercises!

    I can think of Roger Love when it comes to voice coaching. I tried different voice exercises on the net. But none of them, in my opinion, compares to what Roger has to offer. Actually I experienced some improvements right after doing some of Roger's exercises.

    Here's my own review about Roger Love's Vocal Power program: http://aouadi.blogspot.com/2013/09/vocal-exercises.html

  2. I would love to get a print-out of this for my middle school classes. How can I do that?

  3. Would love to print this as black text on white. Tried to print as is and required more toner/ink than necessary. Not a good result

    1. I selected the entire set of exercises and pasted them into my Notes program. It got rid of all the background.

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