How to Do Vocal Warmups on the Piano

Conducting vocal warm-ups with the use of a piano helps vocalists ensure they are singing in tune and not wandering off pitch. The piano is a useful instrument, and even with little piano experience, it is possible to use the piano as a guide for identifying and properly singing vocal pitches. Learning about the names of the different piano keys will help you to ensure that you sing the vocal exercises correctly, and help you learn to sing with proper intonation.

Step 1 Pianos have black keys in groups of two and three. Identify the notes of the piano keyboard by using the black keys as a reference. The white key to the left of the double black set is C. The white key to the left of the triple black set is F. Each consecutive white key moves alphabetically through the musical alphabet from C to B, and then it starts over again an octave higher. The black keys are sharps and flats. Middle C is closest to the center of the piano.

Step 2 Play middle C with your right hand and match the pitch with your voice. Then sing the next four pitches moving chromatically by half steps: C-sharp, D, D-sharp and E. Once you reach C, move in the opposite direction. Play one pitch with each finger; for instance, the thumb plays C, the index finger plays C-sharp, the middle finger plays D and so on up to E. Continue this exercise up a half step each time until you reach the highest pitch in your range.

Step 3 Play the basic major and minor scales by learning the correct fingering for each scale. C, G, D, A, E and B all use the same fingering for scales. Learn the fingering and scales first with the right hand. Use the thumb for the first pitch, the index finger for the second, and the middle finger for the third. Then slide the thumb underneath your hand and continue with the thumb for the fourth pitch, the index finger for the fifth pitch, the middle finger for the sixth pitch, the ring finger for the seventh pitch and the pinky for the octave.

Step 4 Sing along while the right hand plays the scale to ensure you are singing the correct pitches. If you would like to play the remaining six major scales, learn the fingerings by using a piano fingering chart.

  • C-sharp and D-sharp are the notes in the set of two black keys and may also be called D-flat and E-flat. 
  • F-sharp, G-sharp and A-sharp are the notes in the set of three black keys and may also be called G-flat, A-flat and B-flat. 
  • Flats are used when indicating a descending motion or in a key signature composed of flats. 
  • Sharps are used when indicating an ascending motion or in a key signature with sharps. 
  • Learn the numbers for each finger when playing piano. The numbers move from one to five with the thumbs of both hands being one and the pinkies as five.


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