Exercise Science Principles and the Vocal Warm-up: Implications for Singing Voice Pedagogy

J Voice. 2018 Jan;32(1):79-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.03.018. Epub 2017 May 19.


Objectives/hypotheses: Principles from exercise science literature were applied to singing warm-up pedagogy as a method for examining parallels between athletic and voice training. Analysis of the use of exercise principles in vocal warm-up should illuminate aspects of voice training that may be further developed in the future.

Methods/design: A selected canon of standard voice pedagogy texts and well-regarded warm-up methods were evaluated for use of exercise science principles for skill acquisition and fatigue resistance. Exercises were then categorized according to whether they were used for the purpose of skill acquisition (specificity), training up to tasks (overload), or detraining (reversibility).

Results: A preliminary review of well-established voice pedagogy programs reveals a strong bias toward the skill acquisition aspects of vocal warm-up, with little commentary on the fatigue management aspects. Further, the small number of vocalises examined that are not skill-acquisition oriented fall into a third "habilitative" category that likewise does not relate to overload but may play a role in offsetting reversibility.

Conclusions: Although a systematic pedagogy for skill acquisition has emerged in the literature and practice of voice pedagogy, a parallel pedagogy for fatigue management has yet to be established. Identification of a systematic pedagogy for training up to specific singing genres and development of a singing maintenance program to avoid detraining may help the singer avoid injury.

Keywords: Exercise; Fatigue resistance; Pedagogy; Skill acquisition; Warm-up.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Singing / physiology*
  • Teaching
  • Voice / physiology*