The 10 Best Vocal Exercises for Singers–with Videos

The 10 Best Vocal Exercises for Singers–with Videos

Let’s be honest:

Vocal exercises are the weirdest part of learning how to sing.

Between “Gee Gee Gees” and “Nay Nay Nays”, vocal exercises can be the most embarrassing part of voice lessons.

But vocal exercises aren’t meant to waste your time.

In fact, singing exercises are supposed to help you sing your best.

That’s because your voice tends to work at its best when you keep some things consistent.

Consistency could be like singing the same sound on each note of a scale (such as singing “Gee” on the different notes of a scale).

So whether you’re looking to hit high notes with power or expand your vocal range, doing vocal exercises is the best way to do it.

Today, I’ll show you the 10 best vocal exercises for singers with videos for each one so you can practice at home.

And I promise, if you practice these singing exercises regularly, you’ll be amazed at how much your voice improves.

Let’s get right into it…

Exercise #1: 5-Tone Count

Man with his mouth open wide shouting

Here’s the truth:

Most singers need to improve their vocal tone.

From singing too breathy to being overly nasal, there are plenty of vocalists who need to improve their singing tone.

Luckily, improving your vocal tone is really easy to do!

It just takes some practice and the right singing techniques.

And you’ll be amazed that your vocal tone will be clearer and stronger than ever. 

So if you’ve been having a hard time getting the tone you want, start with this exercise.

Improve Your Vocal Tone with the 5-Tone Count

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the number “One” out loud at a comfortable volume.

2. Now find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing the word “One” on that pitch.

Try to keep the same power in your voice as when you speak the word.

3. Finally, sing the numbers 1 through 5 on a 5-Tone scale, making sure to keep each note strong.

Here’s a video where I walk you through how to do the exercise:

10 Singing Techniques to Improve Your Voice

You’ll notice that as soon as you apply the same power of your speaking to your singing that your vocal tone improvs immediately.

Exercise #2: Octave and a Half Lip Trill

Woman in purple light singing into a microphone on stage

Can I tell you a secret?

If you can only do one exercise for the next 10 years, do the lip trill.

Why?

Because if you’re just starting out, the lip trill is more helpful than almost any other exercise.

But that’s a little vague, so let’s get specific:

The lip trill can help you:

  • sing through your break more evenly
  • hit high notes with more power and…
  • expand your vocal range

So if you’re looking for one of the best all-around vocal exercises to improve your voice, do some lip trills.

Expand Your Vocal Range with the Lip Trill

Here’s how you do it.

1. Blow out some air to make your lips flop together.

2. While your lips are vibrating together, say the word “Uh” (as in “Other”).

3. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing that note through the flopping lips.

4. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale with the lips buzzing smoothly throughout the whole scale.

Here’s a video where I walk you through the exercise:

Professional Singing Warm Up – All Male and Female Keys

As you’re singing through the scale, try to keep the lips buzzing as evenly as possible.

This will help reduce strain and eliminate your vocal break.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can expand your range by doing this simple exercise!

Exercise #3: Octave and a Half “ng”

Girl singing in microphone while she plays guitar

Here’s the ugly truth:

Hitting high notes can be really difficult when you’re first starting out.

But with the right singing techniques, finding those high notes is a breeze!

In this exercise, you’re going to do an exercise that sounds nasal on purpose. This is just a tool help you sing better.

Remember, you don’t want to sing nasally on stage.

So whether you’re looking to develop your falsetto or belt powerful high notes, let’s start by getting up to those high notes with a nasal sound.

Develop Your High Notes with the “Ng”

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Rung” (like the step on a ladder) out loud at a comfortable volume.

2. Next, repeat the word “rung” but hold the nasal “ng” sound at the end of the word before the “g” consonant.

3. Now, find a comfortable pitch at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing the “ng” sound on the note.

4. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale on the “ng” sound.

Here’s a video that walks you through the “ng” exercise:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you’re singing the “ng” exercise, make sure to keep the tone very nasal.

You’ll be amazed at how this one funny exercise can open up the top part of your voice!

Exercise #4: Octave and a Half “Gee”

Man playing guitar on stage yelling

Let’s face it:

The lip trill and “ng” work great for your voice, but they’re pretty different from real singing.

So now that you’ve expanded your range a bit with these weird exercises, let’s open our mouths and try an exercise that’s closer to real singing.

The “Gee” is one of my favorite vocal exercises to give to students because it’s excellent for hitting high notes with power.

Hit High Notes with More Power with the “Gee”

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Gee” (as in “Geese”) out loud at a comfortable volume.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing the word “Gee” at a strong volume.

3. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale where you replace each note of the melody with the word “Gee”.

Here’s a cool video where I walk you through the “Gee” exercise.

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you’re singing the “Gee” exercise, keep a strong emphasis on the “G” consonant.

You’ll be surprised at how this simple sound can help you master those top notes in your voice.

Exercise #5: Octave and a Half Bratty “Nay”

Man on stage singing into a mike with red lights in background

Here’s the truth:

The “Gee” is excellent for reaching higher notes, but the “ee” vowel can make it difficult to get a lot of power up there.

So now that you’ve started singing a bit higher, it’s time to add even more power on your high notes.

In the next exercise, we’re going to use a “bratty” sound to help us get to those high notes.

Again, the bratty sound is just a tool to get you singing higher.

You don’t want to sing on stage with the bratty sound.

So if you’ve been getting up to those high notes but they still need to be stronger, try the bratty “nay” exercise.

Increase Your Vocal Power with the Bratty Nay Exercise:

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Nay” (as in “neighbor”) in a bratty way. Just pretend you’re a brat on the school playground. The tone should be nasal, witchy and ugly.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing the bratty “Nay” on the note.

3. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale where you replace each note with a bratty “Nay”.

Here’s a video where I walk you through the bratty “Nay”.

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you’re singing the scale, make an effort to keep all the notes “bratty” and “witchy” sounding from bottom to top.

You’ll be amazed at how much stronger your high notes get with the bratty exercise.

Exercise #6: Octave Repeat Bratty “Nay”

Man singing into a microphone at an angel with green light

There’s no getting around it:

Most singers have a break in their voice.

And while it can be really embarrassing to have your voice break, vocal breaks are actually pretty common.

They’re also pretty easy to fix with the right vocal exercises!

Here’s what you need to know:

Vocal breaks happen when you switch from one vocal register to another (i.e. from the bottom to the top part of your voice).

And these vocal breaks happen at pretty predictable spots, although they’re different for men and women.

Here’s are the most common notes that men and women break on no matter what voice type you are:

Most men break around an E4.

And most women break around an A4.

So while the bratty “Nay” in the last exercise helped you sing to the top of your voice, I want to show you another exercise to help you sing through your vocal break.

Eliminate Your Vocal Break with the Bratty Nay

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Nay” (as in “neighbor”) out loud in a bratty way. The sound should be very nasal and witchy sounding.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom your voice (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls) and sing that note out loud on a bratty “Nay”.

3. Finally, sing the bratty “Nay” on an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the scale with a bratty “Nay”.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Sing High Notes without Falsetto–Works for Guys and Girls!

As you’re singing through this exercise, try to keep all the notes in your break really nasal and ugly sounding.

You’ll be amazed at how your vocal break disappears when you try this exercise.

Exercise #7: Octave Repeat Bratty “Nae”

Man singing into a microphone on stage with a hat on

Now that you’ve started to eliminate your vocal break, it’s time to get even more power on your high notes.

And that means belting.

But what is belting and how can you do it in your voice?

Belting simply means singing high notes with a lot of vocal power.

So if you sing rock, pop or musical theatre, learning to belt is a must.

But here’s the problem:

When you’re first learning how to belt, it’s very easy to just strain and yell when you go to high notes.

But if you strain, you’ll probably end up singing flat and your voice will get tired.

So instead, I want to show you an exercise that will help you belt those top notes safely.

For this exercise, you’ll use a bratty sound with a more open vowel to get powerful high notes.

Learn to Belt with the Bratty Nae

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Nae” (like “Nasty”) out loud in a bratty, nasal way. If you’re having a hard time finding this sound, try to imagine you’re the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz.

2. Next, find a comfortable starting note (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls), and sing the bratty “Nae” on the note.

3. Finally, sing an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the melody with the bratty “Nae” sound. 

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

A huge part of doing this exercise correctly is getting the bratty sound right, so make sure to keep each note very buzzy and nasal.

You’ll be amazed at how much stronger your notes get!

Exercise #8: Octave Repeat Bratty “Bae”

Man playing guitar on stage singing strongly into a microphone

I don’t want to lie to you:

The “Nae” exercise won’t work for everyone.

That’s because most singers add a bit of tension to their voice when they sing the “Nae” exercise.

And while the “Nae” works for a lot of people, some singers who have more tension in their voice will break on the “Nae” exercise.

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on belting!

Instead of using the “N” consonant, we’ll just switch it out for a “B” consonant.

The “B” adds a bit more back pressure in your mouth which will relax your voice more.

So try this exercise if your voice feels a bit strained or tight.

How to Belt if the “Nae” Doesn’t Work

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Bae” (like “Bat”) out loud with a bratty, witchy sound. 

2. Next, find a comfortable starting note (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls) and sing the word “Bae” on the note.

3. Finally, sing an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the melody with the bratty “Bae”.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

Again, keep an emphasis on the ugly “Ae” vowel as you’re singing through this exercise.

You should feel that the high notes are already more relaxed and powerful.

Exercise #9: Octave Repeat “Mah”

Young woman playing acoustic guitar on wooden steps

Let’s face it:

The bratty sound is pretty different from real singing.

Sure the bratty “Nay” exercise can help you hit amazing high notes in your voice.

But it sounds pretty ugly.

So now that you’re singing high notes with more power, it’s time to get a bit closer to real singing.

One of my favorite exercises for getting a more normal tone on those high notes is a “Mah” exercise.

The open “Ah” vowel will help us get a powerful sound but it’s prettier than the “Ae” vowel in the last exercise.

How to Sing High Notes with a Relaxed Tone:

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Mah” (like “Mama”) out loud at a loud volume.

2. Next, find a comfortable note (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls) and sing the word “Mah” on the note. Try to keep the same strength as your speaking voice.

3. Finally sing an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the melody with a “Mah” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you sing the scale, try to make the high note just as strong as the first note.

You should notice that your high notes are still powerful, but they have a much more relaxed sound.

Exercise #10: Octave and a Half “Mum”

Young man playing guitar and singing into a microphone on a boardwalk

There’s no getting around it:

Now that you’re singing with more power, you’re probably going to strain a bit.

So if you feel that the other exercises have been a bit tense or tiring for your voice, let’s relax the notes in your range.

One of my favorite exercises for relaxing your voice is the “Mum” exercise.

In this warm up, you’ll go back to the octave and a half scale so you can smooth out your voice from bottom to top.

Here’s how you do it.

Relax Your Voice with the “Mum” Exercise:

1. Say the word “Mum” (as in “Mummy”) out loud at a comfortable volume.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls).

3. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale where you replace each note of the scale with the “Mum” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

Professional Vocal Warm Up – w/ Scales for Men and Women

You should feel that the “Mum” is more relaxing but you can still sing very strongly into it.

Congratulations

By now, you’ve learned some of the best vocal exercises for singers.

These vocal exercises will help you improve your vocal tone, expand your range and belt high notes with power.

And while some of the vocal exercises may be a bit difficult for you at first, you’ll be amazed at how much better your voice improves with time.

So find the vocal exercises that worked for you and practice them daily.

I can’t wait to hear how your voice sounds!

If you want a complete online video course to teach you to sing better, check out my complete online video singing course Master Your Voice.

4 Comments

  • by M. Mercier Posted April 20, 2019 3:12 pm

    Good afternoon matt,

    Thank you for your answers to my questions related to tenor, choir.

    I continue practicing dayly the exercices you suggest on your website.

    I have few other questions

    – how long will it take, (days, weeks, months, years) to observe improvements, easiness in the « bridge » area?

    – the voice have to rest, i know that. but how long between le last daily practice an execution, of a concert?

    – is it preferable to practice every two days to give the voice the « chance » to re-enforce?

    – If I practice daily is there a chance to generate a fatigue that may interfere with progres?

    Excellents suggestions, thank you.
    Mike

    • by Matt Ramsey Posted April 20, 2019 6:53 pm

      Hey Mike, great questions!

      So glad that you’re practicing daily.

      #1: how long will it take, (days, weeks, months, years) to observe improvements, easiness in the « bridge » area?

      A: It depends on the singer. But if you’re doing the right exercises, you should see improvements almost immediately. But certainly within a few weeks.

      #s 2, 3 & 4: How often/long should I practice and is it possible to fatigue my voice if I practice too much?

      A: You should practice 5 days a week and 30 minutes to an hour each of those practices.

      It’s very easy to fatigue your voice if you work it too much.
      Listen to your body, if you need a rest, take it.

      As you continue working with the exercises, you should feel that you have more stamina.

  • by Michel Mercier Posted April 20, 2019 3:17 pm

    Sorry for your Name, I should have put a capital lettre to Matt

    • by Matt Ramsey Posted April 20, 2019 6:54 pm

      No worries.

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