1

Warm ups are always talked about as being crucial to singing, both in terms of performance and safety. They're often compared to warming up for sport.

But in sport, warming down is also important - is this the case for singing because I don't recall seeing people do this. If for instance you do end up with your voice feeling strained, what should you do when you finish singing? Just stop? Warm down with some exercises?

3

Interesting question - one I have not given much thought until you asked. It might make sense to end your singing performance with a softer song in the easy part of your range, but often singers like to end on a crescendo with a really big number. So what then?

In real life, most singers do some talking after ending their performance. So just talking could act as a cool down exercise for the vocal chords and other muscles involved in making sounds. But perhaps if you end your performance with a rousing number than requires you to really push the limits of your vocal delivery, and then plan to go into solitary confinement - perhaps you might consider singing softly to yourself to "cool down".

The reason it's important to cool down and stretch after intense physical activity such as running, cycling, rowing, etc. is that your heart rate has been increased and it is better to gradually bring down your heart beat than to suddenly stop activity. You have increased amounts of blood pumping to your large muscle groups and suddenly stopping those muscles while the blood supply continues to pump into them at an accelerated rate can contribute to cramps.

Also, you stretch after intense exercise to help rid the muscles of the build up of lactic acid that occurs during intense physical activity.

The same principals might apply to singing, but not to nearly as great of an extent. Although intense singing might elevate your heart rate, it's not as dramatic as running or other aerobic type activities. And there is probably very little (if any) build up of lactic acid during normal singing.

So I'm guessing that the reason cool down after singing is not something that is emphasized or widely practiced in choral groups or singing instruction, is that for most singers, the act of talking after the performance probably provides all the cool down that is needed in most cases.

But as a precaution, it certainly would not hurt to do some quiet singing or humming if you end your performance with a challenging piece that requires maximum exertion of your singing mechanisms. Especially if you have no one to talk to afterwards.

  • Good advice. I also prefer humming. It is a nice massage for the vocal chords and larynx. Also drinking a lot (non-alcoholic stuff =) ) helps me personally. – Matthias Nicklisch Nov 27 '15 at 14:10
  • @MatthiasNicklisch good point about drinking (non-alcoholic) liquid (water, gatorade, juice or other non alcoholic/non caffeinated beverage)! Maintaining optimal hydration is vitally important to good vocal health as well as overall health. – Rockin Cowboy Nov 27 '15 at 15:02
  • We're told not to drink dairy before singing. What about afterwards, could it sooth a tired throat? – Mr. Boy Nov 27 '15 at 17:05
0

Warming down does nothing for your vocal folds. The very nature of the vocal mechanism and the way it is used in singing is very different from how athletes typically use large muscle groups.

If your voice is feeling strained after singing, to prevent further damage, you simply need to stop singing. If talking afterwards seems to strain as well, then go on "vocal rest" and stop using your voice entirely (either by silence or whispering).

As an aside, if singing (or speaking) repeatedly leaves you with a strained, tired, or raspy voice, then it's likely that you're using the vocal mechanism in an unhealthy way and damaging your vocal folds.

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I don't think vocal warm downs are necessary or helpful.

As a post-singing routine, here are some thoughts:

To care for my voice after a rehearsal or performance, I would finish up with some water, and some careful thought about how I plan to avoid ending up with my voice feeling strained in future.

I would be very careful to avoid exposing myself to cigarette smoke or other irritants, and to avoid trying to converse in noisy environments.

I would do my best to keep as regular a sleep schedule as possible.

Finally, I would make sure that I'm appropriately dressed for the weather before going outside when when it's time to head home.

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