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How to Sing Bluegrass: Tips for Warming Up

There’s an old bluegrass joke that goes something like this:

Question: How does a bluegrass singer warm up?
Answer: He clears his throat.

The implication here is that bluegrass singing doesn’t require much warming up at all, but that isn’t the greatest plan if you want to deliver your best sound. Your voice is an instrument after all, and as any musician knows - you don't just want to jump right into a performance without warming up. Also ask any great athelete about the importance of stretching... you'll find it's a similar concept, warming up is essential! 

So what should you do to warm up your voice? Luckily we have Michael Daves on board to show us how to sing bluegrass like a pro. 

There’s a lot of different things you can do here, but here's one of Michael Daves’ favorite warmup exercises:

Sing Along to a Scale

how to sing bluegrass - warmup exercise

This is great exercise to warm up your voice - especially if you already play guitar. Try going through the different vowel syllables as you sing along with the scale (watch the video for an example of that).

Here’s another good one tip for warming up: let your upper lip fill up with air, as seen in the screenshot below.

how to sing bluegrass with michael daves

Be careful not to make your lips too tight so you have to strain, you want to find a good balance here. Once you find it, go through the same scale exercise as before. This will help you control the air flow as you sing, which is very important. You don’t want to put too much pressure behind certain notes as you sing and this exercise will help you find a good balance.

As you’ll discover, practicin this way with different syllables will help your jaw relax - which is a good thing! Always try to stay relaxed as you can while singing - or playing any instrument for that matter. The more relaxed you are, the better your performance will be. So stay loose (and don’t strain)!

how to sing bluegrass - warming up

Follow along with Michael in the video and try out these exercises for yourselves as your vocal warmup. As you’ll see, it’ll help a lot with your singing if you take the time to warm up your voice.

As you go through your vocal warmup, you may notice that your voice start to strain as you reach the higher notes. If that happens, take it down a few - you don’t want to be pushing out those high notes by force. Instead, focus on the middle and lower range that feels more comfortable. The more you warmup like this, you’ll find that the upper range will get easier to reach. As Michael says:

“You don’t want to come out of the gate swinging by hitting those high notes with a lot of intensity because you can really create a lot of strain and fatigue in your voice. You might be able to do it for 20 minutes, but then by the end of the second set you start running out of gas - and that’s no fun.”

So remember: warm up slowly. It’s all about relaxing your voice and getting comfortable with different syllables as you sing. And keep that air flow controlled so it’s nice and even!

Michael Daves teaches bluegrass singing online at ArtistWorks, click below to learn more about how it works. 

Learn more about online ukulele lessons at ArtistWorks

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