Fair warning: a lot of these vocal cord relaxation methods are probably best used in privacy, although if you can do some of these in front of other people, particularly strangers, then going out in front of a crowd may be easier. That’s two levels of relaxation, one blog post.
Exercising your singing muscles requires some stretching and warming and relaxing, just like muscles normally associated with the gym. Here are some of the most tried and true methods.
Practicing proper hydration techniques is one of the best ways to keep your voice perpetually relaxed and sound your best. “Wouldn’t there be a handful of techniques that apply to hydration, like some sort of separate blog post as useful and well written as this one?” Yep! Right here.
Find a mirror. Let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Keep your back straight. Gently keep your jaw clenched as you slowly swing it back and forth from the center of your chest to your left and right shoulders. Swing for five full rotations, swallowing and breathing normally and being conscious of your neck muscles. Next, do five of the same rotations, except slowly look up toward the ceiling and down to the floor. (Do not do this while someone is asking you yes or no questions.)
Place the side of your finger at the top of your throat like you’re pointing to your left or right, and then swallow. Keep conscious of the movement of the swallow as you then try to yawn, but avoid actually yawning. When you begin to yawn, your throat relaxes, but it tenses up again if you complete the full yawn. Continue this a couple of times, and then mix things up a bit by exhaling with an easy-to-hit high note of your choosing. As you exhale, drop the note down like you’re letting out a highly-satisfied sigh. Repeat a few times, but don’t overdo it – five times in a row for proper and safe throat relaxation.
Place the bottoms of your palms into the sides of your cheeks just under the cheekbones. Rotating them in a clockwise motion while gently pushing in. You will definitely feel yourself working through the muscles, and it should feel like a shoulder massage on your face. Do this for three to seven minutes. Close your eyes while you’re doing it and picture your dream vacation destination. Someone you admire is there. They compliment you on your singing.
Sounds obvious, but lightly humming really gets your vocal cords revved up. Hum with your mouth closed, and hum with your mouth open. Hum absentmindedly and concentrate on your humming. Hum.
Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye
Imitate the motion of chewing while you say words or phrases. We’ve all seen it in the movies, and there are actually words and phrases that are specific for warming up your voice. It not only helps you relax your vocal cords and warm up your voice, it can also help you push through tongue twisting phrases, not uncommon in the world of song lyrics. Here’s a great list.
Trill La La La La
Blow through lips pressed gently together. Go up and down scales with the light sound of hard letters, like T’s and P’s, and roll the letter R like you’re saying, “Arriba.” Hold the rolling R as long as you can in different pitches as well as going up and down the scale.
There are specific formulas for relaxation, easier breathing, and even for throat soreness. Make sure they’re herbal, safe, and, preferably, specifically designed for the vocalist, like CLYOR products. Use as directed. Try it out by testing your voice quality on a day/night when you don’t have a performance as a trial run.
Take Some Deep Breaths
When you’re trying to relax at any capacity, taking deep breaths is essential. Just reminding yourself to breathe and being conscious of your breathing can go a long way in not only relaxing your vocal cords, but relaxing yourself in general. Body language, delivery, focus, performance, all improved by deep breathing beforehand.
Remind Yourself That You’re Awesome
Because you are, and that personal reassurance relaxes the whole body. You’re awesome. Remind yourself so that you don’t forget.
I am having a little trouble understanding the first exercise. You say to swing the jaw back and forth? So, is just the jaw moving or your whole head? I think I am just more of a visual learner.
ALso, with the swallowing exercise, are you supposed to be paying attention to or avoiding the movement of the larynx?
Thanks for your help!
Thank you for allowing us to clarify! Yes, you move your full head. Think of your chin as the pendulum. The jaw being mentioned is strictly in reference to keep it gently clenched while you do this quick bodily (nonvocal) warmup. Certainly could have been worded better, apologies!
Also, yes, you pay attention to the movement of the larynx. Have you tried our VOICE37? For me personally, it actually heightens the sensation of feeling your throat/larynx, which is why doing this vocal warmup post-Clyor and pre-performance is one of life’s little joys for me.