Acting in Plays, Singing/Vocal warm ups


Hi Sean,

I'm a tenor from the UK who has sought your advice before and would like your opinion on something that has been perplexing me for a little while now.

I recently spoke with a vocal coach over here in the UK who told me that a warm up shouldn't last more than 12 minutes, and told me that any longer was increasing the risk of vocal fatigue.
My first teacher always told me that a warm up should last at least 20 minutes - and that it should focus on the opening up the middle register before checking the top notes.  

A number of years ago, I started doing half hour warm ups, focusing on the vowels "ah" (Bart) "Oh" (No) and "ee", spending the majority of this smoothing out the passagio, not going higher than a G for the first 25 minutes before building up to hitting an easy High C# in my final couple of exercises. I've found this helps me sing consistently and without strain or fatigue in rehearsals and performances.

What's your take on the suggestion that a warm up shouldn't last more than 12 minutes?

Best wishes,


Hi, Stuart --

Thank you for another question.

After you’ve accumulated about ten years worth of being a regularly employed professional singer, there may be days here and there where a 12 minute warm-up -- depending on what you do, how and where you do it -- might be sufficient. But not for long.

The same is true for the 20 minute warm-up.

The controlling question is:  what are you warming-up for?
A competition?
A Sunday solo?
A three-act opera?

“Vocal fatigue” -- ? From a slightly more than 12-minute warm-up?

Vocal fatigue comes from doing "warm-ups" that aren’t helping you.

No matter how many minutes you spend exercising your voice -- the ultimate goal is that it enables you to then rehearse your repertoire at performance level. My job as a vocal coach is to show you how to do that.

See my recent interview with heldentenor Stuart Skelton. He's coming to San Francisco next week to sing "Peter Grimes", a mammoth role and opera by Benjamin Britten:

Tenor Stuart Skelton on Peter Grimes

Stay in touch.

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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