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Why should a singer bother to warm-up? And how?

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Some say it's to stretch and limber the throat muscles involved in singing. I have found that I get better results when I think of a warm-up as a way to coordinate body, brain and voice so they function well together. I take a very organic approach to warming up. I like to work with small units, like identifying where I want to feel the breath and support, before I radiate outward to include more complex sounds, like scales.

So I start off by identifying the location of breath and support with just sensation. Then I add a very fluid Z (zed) because it's vibrations can be felt easily. Then I add spoken vowels trying all the time to keep the vowels mobile.

It's only after I have warmed up the voice on speaking pitches that I gradually add longer and more complex scales. The brain and body slowly learn to accommodate increases in complexity when they come at them gradually.

What's the consensus out there?

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you know this is a really interesting question renee because lately i feel like i can just jump up on stage and begin singing with hardly any warmup at all (or very little). i don't really know why that is, but i feel i might overdue it sometimes even though it doesn't feel like i'm overdoing it.

like less is more?

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Lilli Lehmann would warm up with what she called the Great Scale. Starting from the lowest managable note, she would sing each note in the chromatic scale, one at a time, pefecting each one. Until she reached the zenith of her range. And then work back down, again.

Brian Johnson goes into a small room, sometimes a bathroom, makes a loud, odd noise, then comes out and says, "Let's go, mates."

Geoff Tate starts the day with head notes. Around lunch and after his morning run, he does some mid-range stuff.

On show note, about an hour before show time, he does some low range stuff. So, he kind of warms up all during the day.

Bruce Dickinson meanders back stage, humming to himself with a maniacal grin. He says people give him the oddest looks when he does that.

Axl Rose will not take the stage if he feels his voice is not 100 percent, aside from other Axl - isms.

James Hetfield practices legit chromatic scale about 1 hour before show time. Then, during the opening tape loop, which is from the movie, "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly," he vocalises with the melody.

Rob Halford has a beer and a cigarette.

Back in the day of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie would have a cigarette and a dry martini.

Rik Emmett warms up singing celtic folk tunes.

I think a warm-up is whatever makes your voice agile and capable, without wearing you out.

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Jeez, Ron, where in the world do you find all this info??? It seems like you know everything about all famous rock and metal singers.

It's a bad habit that started when I was old enough to walk over to the book shelf and look at encyclopedias. My father started teaching me how to read when I was 4.

It's a life long addiction to books. I've read probably 3 dozen books on singing. Closing up on two dozen books of bios and collections of interviews. Everything from Bon Scott, which I am reading currently, to quotes and thoughts from the operatic greats of the 20th century. And it sticks in my head like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth.

To make matters worse, I read very fast and can easily go through a few chapters while taking a 20 minute break.

I'm not even counting all the magazine interviews and sound bytes, here and there.

It's a gift and a curse, to quote Tony Shaloub, in his character in the show, "Monk." See, there's some more useless trivia.

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People hate it if you let it be known that you can sing without warming up.

It doesn't matter that there are many athletes who have injured and strained themselves in spite of warm-ups, even guided by a coach.

I also feel a warm-up should be a chance to test the voice a little. Make sure it is there.

Mostly, I think warm up is about coordination.

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Warming up, in general, is a funny thing. I don't know all the details of the voice and what makes it tick as far as anatomy goes but I do have experience with warming up. Generally speaking, I'd say that for each of us it is different. Some need it more than others but for those that need it the results of training cold can be disastrous. Without knowing who needs and who doesn't it is better to recommend everyone do it. later the individual can decide how much and how long or even to skip it. However even the best of us risk injury as each workout can be different and one area that may be particularly tight on a give day or overused can give out.

My body is pretty well trained and even at 55 and not as free flowing as I once was I still move pretty good. There are many times I don't need a warmup but once I get sweating I am moving that much better. But there are times where I can move fairly well without warming up but limited. And if I continue without that warmup, my workout sucks and is labored and weak and at times on the edge of hurting myself saved only by experience and knowing my body. There was a time when I was in my 20's that I could hop onto the training floor right out of bed with no problem. These things need adjustment with age.

But I am not the average person. I have been training in some fashion for over 40 years and steadily and structured for 30. So my body has grown used to certain things and is experienced in itself enough to have my own way. Still....I have been hurt by being too lax. So you never know. With that it may be better to favor the side of caution. Of course I have been speaking generally as in exercise warmup but I think any warmup is the same in principle.

I would imagine the voice would be the same as long as there are muscles involved and other components that get tight or dry etc. Many can get away with no warmup but maybe they too are experienced. I warmup now but in the many years of not knowing any better I never did. Maybe that is why I usually feel I can sing without it....my body got used to it. But then again, who knows if my voice could have been better had I done things right or maybe avoided certain things that were injuries that I may have attributed to something else. And now that I know better and am older I am more careful. Especially getting close to anytime I may be singing live.

I also take into consideration what I just explained above and the comparison to physical training. While I was able to get by without a warmup, I find now in later life I need one (mostly in winter) and that "shit happens."

Also, with a warmup, workouts are better and more free flowing once warmed up good. That allows me to practice better technique and not ingrain into muscle memory poor technique.

It's an individual choice surely. But to make any good choice for yourself, it is always best to have the knowledge base first to make a more informed decision.

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And to continue with the fighter training example. Warm-ups are good, just to give at least a gentle stretch because the work-out one encounters is much, much longer than actual combat. I follow the rule of thumb in military combat. The average confrontation in actual combat will last 3 to 5 seconds and the winner is usually the one who causes the first injury. As my friend, Lee, said, do unto others before they do unto you.

The longer the fight lasts, the greater chances there are of you being injured by your opponent. Or over-exertion on your part. To that end, I think one-step kumite is highly valuable. More than sparring. Though sparring is valuable, offering you the chance to learn how to read an opponent in the midst of combat. Sparring teaches you how to take a hit and keep fighting. But one-step teaches you how to strike in a timely and accurate manner, putting an end to the struggle. The aim is to be the one that walks away, still breathing.

To get back to singing, I don't follow the same routine every day. I cross-train, so to speak. One day, I may stay in the upper part, playing with different sounds, making as many funny voices as I can think of. But that's just me. Others are better off having a routine they know is always there, the same way, the same thing, every day.

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My warm up before recording is very simple. I drink hot coffee or tea. So a little throat clearing and that's it. I record cold, so to speak. I don't do scales etc. I might, on occasion, warm up by cueing the music and singing the song without recording. I do many retakes before getting a keeper. Sometimes I don't think I put enough of the grit into it.

If I am doing a cover song, sometimes I will play back the original and sing along with the original artist as an inspiration to give it the punch it needs.(When I do covers, I do the same as with original songs. I play and record all the music myself). I am not able to afford karaoke tracks, so I record my own backing music.

With working my job and caring for my family, my studio time can be a bit limited. I don't want to waste it by spending time warming up, lol. I want to jump right in and get to it.

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If you have no idea how to warm up and need a structured approach, I recommend either:

"The Contemporary Singer: Elements of Vocal Technique" by Anne Peckham

OR

"Vocal Warm-Ups" by Hal Leonard

They both have vocal workouts on their CDs. They're about 25 to 30 minutes and

give a pretty comprehensive workout for most/all areas. Do them 6 days a week (leave

one day for rest) right before practicing any songs or scales/drills/exercises. They make

your voice feel relaxed and very agile/flexible.

It's very easy. Just put them on your iPod , press play and go through them. The time passes by

very quickly.

There's also some vocal workouts for digital download on Amazon.com. I never tried them, but

some people like them.

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one thing i learned a long time ago about singing technique...there is no one technique....lol!!!

True that! I found that out pretty quickly. I think one should approach it with some intelligence and common sense, find the common ground and find what works best for them. Otherwise it can get confusing and you can easily end up constantly changing methods and theories. That only slows you down and usually, after a long trek up a path supposedly leading to the holy grail; you open the door only to find you are back where you started! Or that you were on the right path the first time.

Proceed with caution.

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I suppose it depends on how one prepares. Like my brother, I don't spend a lot of time warming up before recording. In some instances, I went after it, cold. But, how long did I prepare that song before "just recording" it, having built in some muscle memory?

I did that with a song, recently. During a few weeks, I worked on parts of the song, here and there, getting solid on what I wanted. Then recorded cold.

Warm-ups are still good, providing you are singing the right way. Hours of scales and what-not don't mean anything if you are singing incorrectly.

But there are some who warm-up extensively. John Bush warms up for an hour to get his voice into shape for the growls and howls he is going to do. Because he needs to be fluid and on point with his technique to avoid injury to his voice.

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Exactly, though the singer can definitely pick one, and if it's the right one for their voice and their musical needs, not have to change it much. If you want your own distinct sound and don't mind limiting the amount of repertoire you can pull off, one technique may do the trick. But if you want to be a versatile singer that can sing just about any song in any range and change your tone to whatever you want it to be, you have to think in terms of many techniques as options rather than one technique as a rule.

I think that's the smartest thing to do -- learn about many approaches to voice technique (warm-ups included) and then custom design what works for you best. Like VIDEOHERE says, "there is no one technique."

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I've found warming up to be beneficial over the years. I have a regimine I go through which consists of about 5 different exercises before I do any songs or recording. I probably don't need that much, but some of those exercises are not warmups, they are exercises.

I used to sing gigs without any warmups and it took more than one set to really get in good voice, and sometimes I would have bad nights. Then I started doing just small amount of warmups before the gig and wow - it really helped. Much more consistent - less or no "bad nights" and easier time with difficult parts.

CVT says you don't need warm ups - but it isn't bad to brush up on technique. Maybe that's true. I've had better luck with warm ups so I'm sticking with it.

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Another reason I don't really do warm ups is that I have a condition that requires certain medications. One of the side effects is that it sometimes makes my voice hoarse. When my voice gets fatigued, it gets hoarse. So, I like to record whilst my voice is clear and clean. Therefore to me, warming up wastes precious 'clear voice' time.

My wife likes to use the phrase, 'make hay while the sun shines'. Translation, do what you can while you can, as conditions may not always be ripe for progress. Or as they say, 'strike while the iron is hot'.

Again, its my own personal routine. Others may vary.

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Ronnie James Dio didn't do a lot of warm-up. And advised fellow singer and friend, Ron Keel, to do likewise. In so many words, there's only so much milage in a voice in a given day.

Really makes sense if we want to keep comparing the voice to other muscular expenditure. Even pro athletes pace themselves. They don't warm-up so much that they have nothing left for the game. And rest. It's just as important as the training.

The coordination is something that builds up over time. Bob recently mentioned that it could take 4 to 6 years to become a consistently good singer. Although, to me, the amount of time does not matter, it does point to the fact that it takes a while, however long that is, to have the coordination be second-nature, even for someone with natural talent.

Tiger Woods has been swinging a golf club since the time he could first handle even a toy club. That's not what makes him good. He has had lessons to develope that natural talent into something consistent. That's not alone what makes him good. But the combination of these two and the single-minded drive to play and play well, I think is what makes him good. It's almost zen, like Bill Murray's zen instruction in "Caddy Shack." "Be the ball."

I think it's okay, with caution, to try other techniques just to see what sound that brings for you, the individual. Often, you will not sound like the singer you are trying to emulate. But you might come up with a unique sound that brings you fortune, if it fits in with the music you are trying to make.

I am not locking myself into one sub-genre of music. Neither am I locking myself into the need to sing every single song out there and sound like any number of singers. Take each day one at a time. Each song, by itself.

My own practice set would range from AC/DC to Men at Work, to an old song by Coven, to country. Not because I feel the need to cover all these genres and claim bragging rights but because the songs that I cover mean something to me. I sing the song because it moves me, not because I want people to mistake me for Robert Plant, Bon Scott, or whoever originally sang the song.

That is, I am not a karaoke singer (in the asian sense,) though there is nothing wrong with that, either. In the asian community, karaoke is very serious and you should not cover a song unless you sound very much like the original. As opposed to americans, who applaud anyone with the chutzpah to get up there and do it. I say that, even though I do sing over karaoke tracks for the purpose of covering the song. I just don't care if I sound like the original singer, or not.

How much of a person's warm-up is spent working on having the sound of a singer that one admires? As opposed to just warming up your own voice? I work on the latter, rather than the former.

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I think its important to separate warm-ups and exercises.

Warmups should put no stress on the voice and are used to get the blood flowing and get good coordination going.

Exercises are used to work on specific areas of the voice that need to be strengthened. Normally you would put minor stresses on whatever muscles need strength so when they grow back they are stronger. Or it may just be neural pathways that need to be formed or strengthened.

The warm-ups that I do, like the lip rolls and such have no stress on my voice. They just "wake-up" the coordination. What they do is reduce stress on whatever follows. If I don't do these and jump into songs right away, the songs can stress my voice. Maybe if my technique were perfect that wouldn't happen.

I include one italian tenor Aria at the end of my warmup routine. That song used to be very difficult, and the mere act of practicing would put stress on my voice. But I know it so well now that it helps re-inforce good coordination and reasonance, and relaxes my voice. So I think Songs could actually be used as a warmup.

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I think warm-ups are also valuable if they put you in a comfort zone. Re-assuring that your voice is functioning well and giving you confidence. And, habit is habit. If your warm-ups are right, theoretically, the singing will be right.

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I think its important to separate warm-ups and exercises.

Warmups should put no stress on the voice and are used to get the blood flowing and get good coordination going.

Exercises are used to work on specific areas of the voice that need to be strengthened. Normally you would put minor stresses on whatever muscles need strength so when they grow back they are stronger. Or it may just be neural pathways that need to be formed or strengthened.

The warm-ups that I do, like the lip rolls and such have no stress on my voice. They just "wake-up" the coordination. What they do is reduce stress on whatever follows. If I don't do these and jump into songs right away, the songs can stress my voice. Maybe if my technique were perfect that wouldn't happen.

I include one italian tenor Aria at the end of my warmup routine. That song used to be very difficult, and the mere act of practicing would put stress on my voice. But I know it so well now that it helps re-inforce good coordination and reasonance, and relaxes my voice. So I think Songs could actually be used as a warmup.

Geno - Once again I find myself agreeing with you. No-stress warm-ups are key, they should be done to perfection as a model for how similar notes and phrases should feel and sound in the songs.

BTW I studied for a while with French Canadian tenor Leopold Simoneau didthe same thing -- finished his warm-up with one of Ottavio's fiendishly diffucult arias from Mozart's Don Gioivanni -- every day. His big break came when the Metropoliton Opera needed a last minute replacement and asked him to audition with the very same aria.

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Renee - That's cool that Leopold did that! What a great story about how it just happened the audition was for that aria. The aria I do is "che ge li da manina". It was difficult for a while. But you do the same song day after day, and after a year it gets a lot easier!

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you know this is a really interesting question renee because lately i feel like i can just jump up on stage and begin singing with hardly any warmup at all (or very little). i don't really know why that is, but i feel i might overdue it sometimes even though it doesn't feel like i'm overdoing it.

like less is more?

I'm the opposite- I'm finding that if I don't warmup, I'm really sluggish. This is relatively new for me. I used to just walk on and go and not face too many problems during the show. However, the past few years, I am finding that I really need to do this and do it right, not just half-assed. If I don't warmup, I push too much and kind of useup the reserves that I have. It's only taken me 50 years to learn this!

AHGHGHGHGHGH

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Billy - In years past you had the flexibility and quick recovery of youth on your side. There's no question that our voices age and atrophy just like the muscles in the rest of our body. But you might even find some new and richer qualities in your voice that weren't there when you were a young sprout. It's sort of a tradeoff.

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Actually Renee, that's totally true. I've always fought the "Stamina Dragon", but I've had to change my approach recently to keep working. That approach means a longer, more focused warmup, not pushing so darned much, and laying back a bit. Also, keeping my in ears down helps quite a bit too, not sure why, it just does.

Yeah, I'm sure my experiences are not typical.

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