Episode 52 – The Best Way To Warm – Up (I think)
It’s not so much what you do as how you do it when it comes to singing.
Warming up is no different.
There are many exercises (some I’ll share in this show) that will work well for warming up your voice, however, the most important thing I’ve found is not what you do but how you feel when you do it!
In this episode I offer some ideas on how you can get into a very receptive and fun place where warming up is faster, easier and better!
When I sing from this place it’s always better and I get warmed up much faster!
Listen and enjoy!
Remember, it’s not so much what you do, but how you do it and how you feel when you do it!
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 52 – Transcripts
The Best Way to Warm Up (I Think)
Well, hey there, everybody. Welcome to episode 52. This is Mike Goodrich. In thinking about what I was going to talk about today, I’ve got a million ideas. So I’m going to start with one. I could expand on that or I may come up with all kinds of different ideas.
But anyway, the first thing I wanted to chat about—after asking how everybody is, I hope you’re all great. I hope things are going well. In Los Angeles here, it’s about 86° day in May. Whenever you’re listening to this, I’m not sure. It could be years from now or very recently. But I hope you’re all doing well. Thanks again for tuning in.
Let me make a quick plea for ideas. As I come up with number 52 here, wow! I’m amazed! That’s a year’s worth of podcasts once a week. I’ve had a lot of really, really cool ideas and some really great feedback and topics suggested to me. But I’ll tell you, my goal would be to have about 50 of these in the can ready to go.
But to do that, I really have to have you guys keep the ideas rolling in because I come up with them sometimes at the last minute. It would be great if you guys have ideas for podcasts or ideas for shows, things you want me to cover or address. Feel free to let me know. Definitely email me.
Anyway, having said that, let’s move on to one of today’s topics anyway. Recently, I was asked what my favorite warm-up is or if warm-ups are a good idea or if warm-ups are necessary. I even had a podcast months and months ago called To Warm Up or Not to Warm Up or something like that.
But anyway, the main thing I want to talk about briefly with the idea of warming up is with singing exercises, vocalizations, warm-ups, anything, whatever you want to call—
And the way I look at warming up as I’ve said much earlier on the podcast, warming up is like stretching. It’s like stretching before a workout or a run. It’s like limbering up, doing the stairmaster or the treadmill or something. They get the blood up, get the body going, get you loosened up before you actually do the heavy lifting which I call the vocalizing.
So, you’ve got the vocal warm-ups which last as long as they last. It could last 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever, whatever you happen to need individually. It’s a very individual thing. And then, you have the vocalization which is the voice-building aspect of it. So you have the two separate things.
So, talking about warming up right now, it’s not as important what you do as how you do it. And it’s really a very important point to get. It’s not as important what you do as how you do what you do.
If you’re doing a very good warm-up exercise incorrectly, it’s not going to do any good or it could actually do some harm.
But before I talk about exercises here and a few specific ones that are fun and widely used—I mean, I don’t have a lot of huge, fabulous suggestions for brand new out-of-the-box warming-up. But I do have this suggestion that not a lot of people talk about. And this goes right along with the inner singer idea as it should (since that’s the name of this). And the idea is as follows:
It’s not so important what you do with the exercise as how you’re feeling when you do it. So my first suggestion for beginning your singing and warming up is to get yourself feeling good.
Now, if you’re down in the dumps and you’re not feeling good, and you have every reason to not feel good, here’s what I’m not saying. I’m not saying, “Ignore the feeling,” I’m not saying, “Shake it off,” “Get over it.” I’m not saying any of that. That would be horrible to say. I’m not saying any of that.
But what I am saying is, clearly, be where you are. You have to be where you are. If you’re feeling badly or sad or upset or whatever, you have to acknowledge that. You have to be where you are.
But let’s talk about under normal circumstances. Let’s deal from a normal, everyday. You’re just feeling normal. You’re not really up. You’re not really down. You’re just feeling normal, and you go to sing. The thing that we have to watch out with in singing is the thing that I used to do—and that was really identifying myself with my voice. And how my voice was doing would dictate my mood.
So, sometimes, if I wasn’t feeling happy or I was in a bad mood, I would go to sing, hoping that would pick me up. And inevitably, I wouldn’t sing very well, and I would just feel lousy, if that’s a word.
So, my suggestion is, number one, if you have a tendency to look to your voice to save you or make you feel a lot better, that’s a lot of pressure that you put on your voice to do that—and I used to do that, believe me. I still fall into that. Who doesn’t? This is not about profession.
But my suggestion would be to find, under normal circumstances, something that can really shift you into a real state of joy, a real state of happiness almost to the point of laughter—or even to the point of laughter.
What I recommend a lot—and what I’ve done in my lessons—is I’ll ask somebody who their favorite comedian is or what their favorite funny show is, and I’ll find it on YouTube and have them watch it for three, four, five, seven minutes until they’re really engaged, and they’re laughing, and they’re cracking it up, and they’re having a great time. At that point, their brain and their psychology and their mentality and their very being is in a receptive place where they can learn.
They’re in a much less judgmental place of how they do. They’re in a much less place of urgency where “I have to do this really fast. I have to get really warmed up because I really want to sing. Why am I doing these warm-ups anyway? They drive me crazy. All I ever want to do is sing. I don’t have much time,” and all that stuff.
So, when we’re warming up, what we don’t want to be is rushed. And what we do want to be is relaxed and in the best mood we can be. So if we can watch something on YouTube, listen to a little comedy, tell ourselves a joke to remind ourselves of something funny, think of somebody we really love or a situation that really got us engaged—
I had a situation years ago. My little boy was about two. I think I’ve said this probably before. I think I’ve said it a lot before actually in a lot of different shows, but that’s okay. If I can remember, you probably can’t either.
Anyway, I show up at a park, and my wife and my little boy were there. My little boy was at least a hundred yards a way, and he saw me getting out of my car, coming through the parking lot. Now, I hit the grass, and I saw him. He just started running towards me and threw his arms out. I ran towards him. I got into my knees, and he leaped into my arms. That was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
I can think of that, and it just makes me smile. It almost makes me teary. That’s not great for singing right, but you get the idea. That was a really, really special moment.
Another thing is there’s a Woody Allen movie. It’s Play It Again, Sam, the apartment scene where he’s getting ready for this blind date. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong, and he’s just a complete buffoon. All I have to do really—I got to be a little careful because if I start thinking of that now, even though I’m recording and in “serious” podcast, I will start laughing, and I’ll have to pause the thing. But if I need a good laugh or if I need to get in a happy place before I sing, before I do something, I just bring that up on YouTube, Woody Allen, the apartment scene from Play It Agains, Sam. I watch it over and over again. I just laugh until I cry. I know exactly what’s coming and I know every line in the scene, and it still gets me.
So, I’m talking about getting something like that, finding something that really resonates with you, that really makes you laugh, really makes you happy, really makes you joyful. Get in that place before you sing.
Get in that place before you vocalize, get in that place before you perform bcz when we’re in that state and we’re happy and we’re having fun and we’re joyful—and the amygdala of the brain, the fear center, is not triggered during that. We can create a nice wiring in the brain with that joy as the cushion and as the base. We get used to singing from that place.
Rather than bringing a bunch of stress and urgency and judgment to our vocalization and our warm-up, what if we brought a sense of lightness and levity and laughter and joy and fun? Almost, we’re laughing to the point of not being able to sing. It’s certainly a worthy experiment.
If you’re like me, you’ve already done the other. If you’re like me, you’ve already put a lot of pressure on your voice to make you feel good. You’ve already come to the party feeling like, “Well, I’m miserable today. At least maybe, my voice will work today.” How many times have we put that on our voice, and our voice has, again, let us down really?
So, when we set ourselves up that way—and we really do set ourselves up for not having a really good time singing—what we want to do is get back to that joy of singing that little kids have where it’s not about being judged. It’s not about even being good. It’s just about creating.
It’s that kind of thing like my little boy. As these kids grows—and of course, we do too—they go through stages and phases. But I remember when he first started playing Lego. And he would just, at random, put Legos together. Any creation that he made, no matter what it looked like, whether or not it functioned as anything, any creation that he made was his. He was proud of it. He was excited about it and happy about it.
And then, you get a little older, and you get a little older. And then, he starts being able to look at the instructions and put little Legos together. And so he does that. And then, he starts taking Legos apart.
At this point, he has a bin full of Legos. He’ll sit down and he’ll—during that stage—randomly put Legos together to create something. And then, he’ll look at it. And since now, he has the experience of putting Legos together with the instructions and seeing how they looked like when they’re finished and polished and created by professionals, so to speak, well now, he looks at what he put together with judgment.
Whereas it used to be “throw a bunch of Legos together, have this cool creation, ‘Wow! Daddy, look at what I did.’ ‘That’s awesome!’” And then, the next stage, reading instructions, looking at the Legos, putting them together, “Wow! This is great. It looks just like the picture on the box.”
And then, taking all those apart and creating something else by having it not look like the picture on the box. It’s like, “Oh, this is terrible. This doesn’t look good.” And it’s like, “No! It’s great. It’s your creation.” “Yeah. But now, it doesn’t look like anything. I thought it was going to be like this.”
I say, “Well, yeah. But before, when you were little and you were just playing and having a great time, you were just throwing things together and it was fun.”
“But then you got more awareness and you’re looking at the instructions now, and you’re putting the Legos together. It turns out to be a really cool Starship or something. ‘Wow! That’s awesome. It looks just like the picture on the box’, you have more awareness now. Now, you’re trying to build something more consciously, and you get it together, and it doesn’t look like the picture you have in your mind, and now you’re judging it.”
“But no! It’s a great creation. And the more you create consciously, the better it’s going to get, and the more it’s going to look like the vision you had in your mind.”
That’s the same thing with our voice. The more you can approach this from a real joyful place and a happy place of creating consciously, the more he’s going to create something that he really enjoys.
And if we can do that with our voice, and get ourselves in a place where what we create that day with our voice is from a real happy place, a joyful place, a fun place, we might be really surprised with what we’re able to do and what we’re able to create in any given moment on any given day.
When we’re consciously approaching it that way and saying, “Rather than just taking potluck today, what if I really approach this consciously and I consciously get myself to the place where I’m having fun, whether or not I have a YouTube video or a memory or whatever, but I’m smiling and laughing and having fun, now let’s do the warm-up exercise,” now, it becomes not that important what we do to warm-up because we’re feeling good.
I can tell you from experience, oftentimes, I will be singing a little bit, and I won’t be in a good mood. Maybe I’m down a little bit. Maybe I’m lacking energy. I’ll sing a little bit. My voice sounds down. It sounds like I’m lacking energy.
And for some reason, maybe I’ll be out playing with Theo. We’ll be running around, playing a little tennis or dodgeball or whatever. I’ll just start having a really good time. I’ll start playing, having fun. Maybe we’ll pick up our guitars and play a little and goof off and whatever I’m doing. Maybe I’m teaching a lesson, and I’m really inspired by whoever I’m working with. I do a couple of demonstrations and I find myself sitting up straighter, breathing a little better, all of a sudden, I come alive. The next thing I know, my voice which wasn’t working at all, and I could’ve said, “Nah! My voice isn’t working that great today. I don’t feel like singing,” all of a sudden, my voice is hopping. I’m doing things, they feel great, and I haven’t even warmed up.
But I have warmed up my sense of being. I have warmed up my joy and my enthusiasm. I have warmed up my energy. And all of a sudden, when I’m in that place, my voice follows suit, and it’s amazing! My voice is just magically almost warmed up at that point.
Now, I’m not saying, “Don’t warm up.” I’m just saying I have a feeling you’ll find it’ll go a lot better and a lot faster if you’ve gotten yourself in the right headspace, in the right mindspace, in the right energy, in the right openness, so that you’re expanding into something great and the mystery and in a place where you can be delighted in what you discover versus coming to it from the way we usually come to it which is just we don’t come to it consciously. It’s just, “Okay, it’s time to sing. I better sing.”
What I’m saying is let’s approach it consciously which I think is really important, to be as conscious as we can possibly be.
I mean, we all sleep walk every once in a while. Of course! We all do. I mean, during the day time. I don’t mean actual sleep-walking. We do things unconsciously. And that’s fine. We all do. Who doesn’t? But the more we can approach singing from a real conscious place, I really think that it’s going to go so much better.
And I even have experience of that. And I’m sure you do too.
So now, what are some of the exercises that I recommend? I would be surprised if you didn’t already know these, but the ones I recommend—and I’ll tell you why I recommend them because that, you may not know. I’ll tell you why they work.
First, let me tell you the first one. I’ll do this in the microphone, but it’ll probably make some funny noise. But I know you know this already. It’s called the lip bubble [bubbling lip]. You want to be pulled back from the mic, [bubbling lip]. That’s not the scale I would do, but that’s what it sounds like.
And it’s very, very difficult to do this on audio because I can’t show you what it actually looks like. But if you have trouble with this [bubbling lip], which I used to, then you can take your two index fingers down on either side of your jaws—so you’ve got the right index finger on the right side of your jaw, and the left one on the left side—and you push gently up your cheeks—gently, not hard, not high. Don’t push in. Just push gently up, so you have real floppy lips. And that becomes much easier.
And then, you can siren that [bubbling lip], or you could do a [bubbling lip], the arpeggio kind of thing, anything like that.
What that does, since you have your vocal cords resisting the air, and you have your lips resisting the air before it comes out into the world, that double resistance lightens the compression on the cords, so it becomes very nice, easy warm-up exercise.
The same thing is done when you do the tongue trill which is just rolling your R’s. If you’re going to roll your R’s in Spanish or Italian or something, it sounds like this. It’s even the same kind of thing [trilling R’s] or an arpeggio [trilling R’s], that kind of a thing.
And if you experience a tremendous amount of tension when you’re doing that, then just do a little of it to see if you can begin to feel less tension, just [trilling R’s]. But if you’re creating a lot of tension or feel a lot of tension, it’s good to do a little bit of that to see if you can begin to release the tension. But clearly, if you’re feeling a lot of tension, it’s not going to be a good warm-up for you because it’s just going to tire you out.
So, I would say if you can do one or both of those very easily—and I don’t mean necessarily very easily immediately, but if without too much trouble, you get to the point where they’re pretty easy and very relaxed, then they function as really, really great loosening-up, warm-up exercises.
The other thing I like is a hum where you have your lips together, but your teeth apart. So it’s as if your mouth is open, but your lips are together—lips together, teeth apart. And it’s the same idea [humming], kind of just [humming] or an arpeggio or a siren, whatever you want to do, scales. The same effect will apply. So that’s real, real easy.
Another thing—which I don’t think I’m going to go into this because it’s too hard to explain in audio—it’s called the squeaky door. It’s a little bit like a hum, but it’s really almost on the edge of the cords [raspy humming].
So again, you may have a teacher that knows how to do that or you may already know how to do that. That’s also a really good loosening-up, warm-up exercise.
Now, if you can’t do any of those, a good exercise is to put it on a nu, [vocalizing]. An ŭ vowel doesn’t pick up a lot of weight. So, you wouldn’t sing it like [vocalizing], but just [vocalizing]. I’m a little hooey, [vocalizing]. It’s picking up a lot of the head voice quality. And that’s slight chord closure, not heavy and not a lot of weight. So that’s another really good loosening up exercise too.
But again, it’s been my experience that the better my mood is and the more energetic I feel—and another good thing is to have gotten a little exercise, so that your body is awake, whether you’re riding a bike, do a little jogging, do a lot of walking, do some stretching, whatever, but you get your body awake as well. Maybe put on a comedy on YouTube while you run in place for five minutes or something like that. So you’re awake, you’re breathing, you’re laughing, boom! And then, bring that to your singing.
So those are some ideas with regards to the warming up that I think, for me, really helped. And I’ve seen it help with my students. I think that might really be a fun thing for you to do with your warming up and vocalizing, and you’ll find that will probably quick your warm-ups. You’ll probably get warmed up faster. You’ll enjoy singing a lot more.
So, let me know how that works for you if you’ve tried that. Again, any suggestions, comments, concerns, criticisms, you can email me at Mike@theInnerSinger.com. Shoot me ideas for podcasts, I’d appreciate that. If you haven’t had the chance to review the podcast on iTunes, it’d be great if you go on over there and give me an honest review and a nice rating. It really, really helps spread the word.
And there you go! I’m going to sign off now. I’ll see you next week. I hope you have a great week. Bye bye.