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Episode 21 – To Warm-up or Not to Warm-up…And Lots More!

Updated: Sep 13

Have you ever had a reoccurring bad dream about performing?

I have! Not for a while. (-:

However, when I’ve shared mine with other singers, most have had something similar.

In this Episode I answer a question regarding this subject.

It’s actually a question from a student and it inspoired quite a fun and informative discussion.

Lots in this one (so much I can;’t remember as I write this description!)

That’s probably not great for SEO…haha

But seriously, Some nice insights and tools came out in this one.

I hope you enjoy it!

Download this episode!

The Inner Singer Podcast

Episode 21 – Transcripts

To Warm-up or Not to Warm-up…And Lots More!

You’re listening to episode number 21.

Welcome to the Inner Singer Podcast, providing tools and techniques to strengthen your inner singer, your beliefs, your confidence, your mindset. And now, your host for the Inner Singer Podcast, Mike Goodrich.

Hey there, everybody! This is Mike Goodrich. Thanks for listening to the Inner Singer. I’m thrilled to be back here for episode 21, 21 weeks.

And last week, we answered a question and I wanted to get to this question as well. So, this week I’m going to answer another question. Let’s get right to it. I love it when you guys send in questions and give me your feedback. So, let’s go right here.

Okay. Here it starts. It says:

“Anyway, if you run out of ideas and have some time, I was wondering if you could talk about dreams – or nightmares rather. For several years now, once in awhile, I have a nightmare where I have to perform somewhere. And in the dream I don’t have time to warm up vocally at all.

I definitely I have a fear of that really happening and sometimes if you tell people that you like to sing, they’ll sometimes ask to hear you. And when you say you haven’t warmed up, people don’t really understand. I’ve known other people who can sing at church or wherever, they just look at me like I’m crazy when I say I have to warm up. They just sing without warming up at all.

For me, if I don’t vocalize for 30 minutes or so, my voice would crack and it just doesn’t feel free at all. So, I have that fear of being caught off guard and having to sing. And even after I wake up from the dream, I feel like I’m in panic mode.

I thought this topic might go well with the sort of things you talk about. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing or how to stop it. I would appreciate your thoughts.”

Well, I have my own version of that – or have had. Since I haven’t performed in a while, I haven’t had that dream in a while. I didn’t have that exact dream, but the dream that I used to have – and it was really about one of the only reccurring dreams I’ve ever had. I would dream and I was just about to go on stage. And there are two versions of dreams, neither arevery much fun.

So anyway, I’m just about to go on stage and literally about to walk on and the thought goes through my mind, “You know, I really should learn this part. Why didn’t I learn this part? I have no – oh, my gosh! I can’t take a book out there. I have no idea what my part is! I have no idea! I’m not going on with the show. I don’t even know this show. What was I thinking?” It goes downhill from there. I wake up. And also, I’m totally freaked out when I wake up.

The other version of that dream that I’ve had often is I’m about to go on in a particular show and I learned the wrong show. So, here I am in a show, up in one particular show and I learned a part for another show. And again, I wake up right before I go on in that same kind of fear, stressed-out mode. And then, I start laughing just in gratitude that that was not real.

And I’ve talked to other performers that have had similar dreams.

So number one, I think it’s really common. So, don’t beat yourself up over having the dream. All performers have their performance nightmare dream. They’re very common.

But let’s look at this a little bit like we looked at last week. And last week, we went into a little bit more of the practical side of the inner singer.

Now, let me tell you what I used to do because I, as well, for many, many years, the better part of my vocal career – well, I guess I’m still having my vocal career. It’s a little different for me now, but for years and years, the majority of years, even when I was performing, I was the same way. I did not want to sing with a cold voice. 

I honestly could not sing as well with a cold voice. And when I was performing and doing shows, I too, would warm up. I had a specific way that I would warm up and I would warm up for a half hour to an hour before I step on a stage to perform.

This means before I stepped on the stage in a concert with other people to perform one song or do an entire show, I treat it the same way. And I too, was always afraid somebody was going to ask me to sing (and it almost always happened) and I honestly spent the better part of those years saying no and not singing.

Let me first say, that’s okay, you can do that. You can totally say no. You can treat it like, “I’m a professional and I warm up before I sing and I haven’t had the chance to warm up.”

Now, granted, a lot of times that doesn’t come off so well. We look like we have attitude, we look like we think we’re all that and a bag of chips and we have to warm up and all that, “But I’m just asking you to sing a simple song.” But in our minds, it’s like, “No! I don’t feel like I could sing ‘Happy Birthday’ without warming up.” That’s really where I was.

So, what did I finally start doing? Okay, from a practical standpoint, here’s what I did. I found myself a song, one song. There might have been another, but one is coming to mind. I just haven’t been asked for a long time to do this. And actually now, it’s not such a big deal. I don’t have so much trouble without warming up. But boy, that’s very recent. And I’ve been saying no for, I don’t know, 35 years, 40 years.

So anyway, I got a song that I knew, on my worst day, providing my voice was healthy, I don’t have cold or something, but on my worst day without warming up, I knew that I could do it in an acceptable fashion. That’s one thing I did. I always had a song in my back pocket that I could pull out and do the whole thing or three or four lines.

Oftentimes, I don’t know about you who asked this question, but I know that for me, I was asked to do that in a lot of different places where there was no accompaniment, nobody was going to play anything for me. It was really like, “Oh, yeah! You’re a singer. Sing something for me.” It was right on the spot and it would be an acapella. So, I thought, “I’m just going to do Pretty Women from Sweeny Todd.” It’s a really pretty song. Women like it because it’s about pretty women. It doesn’t go high. For me, it’s was kind of a vocal-no-brainer. Singing acapella anytime, I could pick up my note.

So, that was one of the practical thing that I did. That’s one suggestion from a practical standpoint.

And to rewind just a little, your question, is it a subconscious thing? Of course, it comes from our fear of performing. Because what is performing? Like I‘ve talked about in the last podcast and other podcast, performing means we satisfy certain conditions.

So, I always suggest that people reframe the word performing and turn into the word experience because if we can be thinking of performance as an experience and not a performance, experience doesn’t hold the conditions that a performance holds. A performance has a lot of conditions, a lot of criteria to meet. We have to be perfect at everything. Give a great performance.

And that’s what singing for anybody – we’re a singer singing for anybody in one person. One person asks us to sing, that’s a performance, right? Of course, that’s how it feels like. But if it becomes an experience, “Wow! This person asked me to sing. That’s nice. Well, I’m just going to have a little experience here singing.” It’s much different than, “I have to be perfect. I have to be this, I have to be that. My notes have to great. My voice has to be fabulous. I have to be totally warmed up.” So, I just want to toss that in.

But the first thing I found from a practical standpoint, get a song you can do on your worst day and you’re pretty sure it’s going to be somewhat acceptable.

All the while though, all the time that you’re doing these things that we would call practical (and I’ll give you a few more), we’re also dealing with the inner singer issue and that is singing means something to us that is not really benefiting us. Singing has a deeper meaning to us. It’s starting to mean something about ourselves.

I really can speak from experience about this. I really can because I was just like this fellow. I refuse to sing if I wasn’t warmed up. And as I reverse engineered that and looked back at the motivation for not singing – and that was way before I had to inspiration to find just something that I could sing.

I’ll tell you why it was way before that. I wanted to be an opera singer and the people that I idolized and thought I could be like were so far away from what my voice actually is that there’s no way that once told somebody that I was dramatic tenor and my favorite singer was Mario Domenico and my other one was Franco Corelli and they said, “Oh, sing something,” there is no way at that point. I had just painted myself in the corner because I have nothing like those guys.

And again, I’ve said this before, I’m not putting my voice down. I love my voice, but I’m realistic about it now. I painted myself in a corner saying, “Yeah. I’m a dramatic tenor and these are my favorite singers.” “Oh, my gosh! This guy must be great. Will you sing for us?” “No. I can’t do that. I’m not warmed up.”

So, I laugh at it now. But it was important. I really couldn’t sing opera not warmed up and I couldn’t sing it very well warmed up very well, to tell you the truth. There’s no use going to it right now. But as I’ve said before, I do have recordings that prove that I’m not lying. I did not sing it well. And that’s not me being self-deprecating. That’s me being just realistic and honest. No, it’s not pretty.

Part of me knew it wasn’t pretty. Part of me was blaming warming up on it. I’m not saying this as this young man’s thing. That’s not what he was talking about. I’m just sharing my thing with you. I was way out of the park with the way that I wanted to sound and all the warming up in the world wasn’t going to help me get there.

But anyway, when I finally came to the conclusion and the realization that my voice was not like that, I felt bad because I like that kind of music, but it was so releasing because then, all of a sudden, I had some ideas. Now, I’m a musical theatre guy. Well, that’s consistent with my voice.

I can sing pop. I could say I can sing rock for myself, but people laugh at me if I sing rock. Literally, my students will actually laugh and my wife will even chuckle in a nice way. Even I have to laugh. It’s not very good. I’m on musical theatre. So, I’m a musical theatre guy, that’s always been my voice.

So, that’s when I discovered, “Well, I can sing this song. I’ll sing Pretty Woman. That’ll be nice. I can do that in any given day and it’s cool!” But before that, I was just so off-base.

So, that happens in us as well. I could not be in playful mode. The thing that I have set up for myself for singing was very serious mode. “Wow! No, I’m an opera singer. That is serious stuff. There is no play there.” So, that’s where I was, that’s where my head was. So, I couldn’t just sing anything off the cuff.

So, for this young fellow, I suggest as well that you develop a little bit more of a playful attitude with this whole singing thing. I know sometimes it just look so serious and it’s just so important and it means so much to us. You’re talking to a guy that completely identify with that. My identity was completely wrapped up in my voice. No use going into that anymore, I’ve gone into it plenty of podcasts. But I was completely wrapped up with my voice.

There was no play. And until I allowed joy and play in and until I began to accept my voice for what it is, nothing really changed for me.

And one thing that really helped was to get in a class. I’ve mentioned a class idea in the last podcast, but I didn’t go into it in this detail. I got myself into a class where I could play. I could do a variety of music. I could go over the top. I could goof off. I could be serious, I could laugh, I could cry. I could do everything in a class setting where the stakes where a little bit high because I knew people were out there, it was on a stage in a little theatre in Hollywood and it was great. But it really gave me the permission to play and to take risks my own way.

One of the first risks I took was a couple of big tunes from Jekyll & Hyde. And I had a recording, I don’t want this to be all about me, but this is an important thing right now I think. I sang a song from Jekyll & Hyde. The recording I had was with the fellow named Anthony Warlow. If you’ve never heard about Anthony Warlow, he has one of the most unbelievable voices in the world! Unbelievable! I saw my sound wave just really go crazy there because I said, “unbelievable voice in the world!” I realized very quickly I could not sing that song the way he did. I thought, “I really want to sing this song.”

And this is one of the first times that I had ever been able to do this. I said, “Is there a way I can sing this my way? Even if I can’t do it the way he does it, is there a way I can do this song?” And lo and behold, just asking the right question, “Is there a way I can sing this song? I love this song. Is there a way to do it my way? Is there something I can bring to do this song? Lo, and behold, I was able to do it.

In some of the places where he sang loud, I had to sing soft and some of the places where he sang soft, I had to sing loud. But you know what? I ended up being able to do the song. I ended up being able to validate my vocal interpretation with my character interpretation and worked the two together.

Now, I have no idea how I got off on this tangent, but I have a feeling it’s from the word play. We want to get into a situation where we become much more playful with voice.

And then, from a practical standpoint, see if you can find a song. And here’s the thing, don’t make it impressive. Don’t make it about the ego. Don’t make it about showing off. Just find a simple song like I found Pretty Women.

Find a simple song that you can sing at a drop of a hat on your worst day. I don’t care if it only goes to a Middle C for a guy that’s night very high. I don’t care how high it goes. Make it not about the ego, make it about playing and sharing your gift. And then begin to play with that with a cold voice.

Sing it when you get up in the morning. Sing it before you go to bed at night. Sing it when you’re washing the dishes. Find something that you can do anytime – when you’re riding your bike, when you’re taking a walk, whatever you’re doing. I want it to be that easy. That way, you can satisfy whoever asks you to sing and you can satisfy yourself, “Oh, I actually can sing with a cold voice!”

And like I said, it doesn’t have to be some big [inaudible 00:17:38] from Les Mis. It does have to huge, it doesn’t have to be impressive. You’re better off having it not be impressive.

One of my most impressive moments – it wasn’t my own, by the way, no. When I was impressed the most was when a buddy of mine (he wasn’t a friend then, I didn’t know him), I was joining this singing performance class that I was talking about. I didn’t know this fellow, but I have heard of him. He’d been on Broadway. They said, “Oh, you got to hear this guy. He’s great! His voice is huge! He does all these great, big, dramatic things.” I’m like, “Oh, man! I can’t wait to hear this guy.”

So anyway, I’m in the class that day and he gets up to sing. He kneels down on the stage and he sings one of the most beautiful, intimate songs as a father to a son – not loud, not high, not anything. It brought tears to my eyes. It was wildly gorgeous and impressive.

And I knew this guy could sing that in a drop of a hat not even warming up. It wasn’t bombastic, it wasn’t loud, no big high notes, no showing off, no nothing, all the things I was looking forward to hearing his voice, he didn’t do. And yet it was the most compelling, most amazing thing.

That was a huge, huge lesson for me. I always thought, “People are asking me to sing. It’d better be big and it’d better be impressive and it’d better be my best foot forward.” No, it only has to be you. It only has to be authentic you singing from the heart, sharing yourself and being present.

Give yourself a break and pick something that’s really, really easy and in your mind, completely unimpressive. Just put yourself in it and do it with all the heart and the love in the world. Okay, so that’s number one.

Number two, from a practical standpoint, if you’re going somewhere and you’re pretty sure you’re going to be asked to sing or you’re going somewhere where people know you as a singer or there are going to be other singers, for goodness’ sake, do as I did (and this coming from experience as well), warm up before you go.

I never advocate singing in the car because we don’t sing that great in the car and we actually should be concentrating on our driving. So, don’t do as I do, do as I suggest. I would sing in the car on the way. I would go into a bathroom or out to my car in the parking lot and warm up some more. If I knew somebody’s going to ask me or I knew I was going to be around somebody who always ask me, I’d sneak into the bathroom for a couple of minutes and I had some things that I can do vocally.

The lip roll or the tongue drill or the squeaky door or humming or very light singing on noo through my registers so nobody would really hear me, just some things that would give me some confidence that, “Okay, my voice is there.”

So, that’s a practical thing you can do. Try not to get caught off-guard as much as you can. And the way that you can have the synergy of those two that I just said is you can make sure you are warmed up as much as you can. Sometimes you won’t be able to, but a lot of times, I knew I was going to place where somebody might ask me to sing. So, I just warm up 10 or 15 minutes, at least something. And then, I would have this song in my back pocket that I knew I could do and at least I’m a little bit warmed up.

And then doing all the inner singer work that we’ve talked about in our previous podcasts (so I don’t think we really need to go into that now) and that’s to get into the playful mind in our brain, the place where singing, all of a sudden, is playing.

Get out of the place where singing is serious, “Singing means my identity, singing is serious, singing is serious business.” You know what? No, it’s not. It cannot even be serious business for people that are career singers or they’ll hate it, they’ll have short-lived careers and they’ll end up going doing something else because if it’s not fun, they won’t do it. So, it’s always got to be in that playful part so that we’re playing with it.

I’m looking down and it’s saying 21 minutes again. So, I’m going to end this. I think that’s probably a long enough answer. I hope it helped. Please give me your feedback. Please send questions. I love having them as you can tell. I look forward to chatting with you in the next podcast. I really hope this helped. Those are nice couple of tips, so go and do those. I will chat with you next week. Bye bye.

Thank you for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast. And please share this with all of your singing friends. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe. If you found it of value, give us a nice rating. Thank you so much.

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