Photo: Mitch working with Adam Wilson from Red Chair.
Want to learn more about how to warm up the voice?
I’ll answer some questions about how and why you should warm up before a gig, a recording session or a rehearsal.
Hi, I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach and have been teaching recording artists, touring artists and regular people how sing , maintain, and even repair damaged voices so they can look forward to a less stressful and a much longer career. I performed and toured myself, singing many different genres of music for 37 yrs., so was able to develop and test all kinds of warm up methods. The following is what I teach my students!
Warming up is a key factor for a vocalist before any event. Getting the muscles moving, the blood flowing to the area, knocking gunk off the cords, is the best way to ensure your top performance and lessen the chance of hurting the voice.
As a vocal coach I guide singers how to not only develop and strengthen their voices but also how to maximize what they have at any given time, This includes being at the top of their game and healthy, as well as…not being at the top of their game and dealing with vocal fatigue, swollen vocal chords or being just plain sick!
I do get questions regarding how to vocally warm up properly. As a student of mine, once the fundamentals are established, I create warm up files specifically for everyone. This includes warmup exercises that pertain to the level they are at as well as their specific vocal range and abilities. Obviously, I can’t do that here for you, but I can share some simple exercises for common ranges and at least get you started on the right track!
Some of the questions I get are:
How long should I warm up for?
I have always viewed singing as an athletic event. If you imagine yourself as an athlete, you can often rationalize how to approach things. A top-level athlete will ALWAYS warm up before a competition. This ensures that the body’s muscles are warm, have all the kinks worked out and are ready to perform. They would never warm up to the point where it becomes a “workout”. You should never waste the energy you need for peak performance. The goal is to get the muscles prepped for peak performance!
From a singer’s standpoint, it’s the same. Unless you’ve begun the process of getting everything moving how could you ever expect to perform at your best? For a vocalist in today’s music business, being in top form and consistent is a must!
What I have found to work best, is a warmup lasting 10 to 15 min, that should end approx. 20 to 30 min prior to the show. Having a short rest after a vocal warm up is important as it allows the muscles to relax and if there is any residual phlegm left, time for it to clear. Like any pro athlete you need to work that into a pre-performance habit, so it is always done.
What do I need to warm up? Chest voice, Head voice or Falsetto…. or all of it?
All of it. All parts of the voice are used in producing a good quality sound for a show. Therefore, you need to stretch all aspects of your voice out!
Is there one exercise that does it all for me?
No. But there is one that comes close! It’s called “Lip Trills”. These exercises have been around for a VERY long time. I have the very first book ever written on vocal technique by Pier Francesco Tosi…in 1743! He talks about them in the book. Who knows how long they were around before that? He doesn’t claim to have invented them, just that they are an integral part to any vocal warm up for any voice type.
It’s a fantastic exercise that works through all the registers in the voice (chest and head or falsetto), forcing you to relax while doing it, because if you get any tongue, jaw, throat or torso tension, the exercise stops working!
It begins the process of learning to properly negotiate the passagio, or that “crack” we all have between the chest voice and the head voice. It’s not the be all and end all of learning how to do that, but it a great way to start.
It stretches out all the resisters (Chest and Head) from the very bottom to the very top of your range, working the muscles and getting the blood and warmth to flow.
It begins the process of moving any phlegm off the vocal cords
It establishes good vocal placement, as you can’t do them in the back of the throat
Overall a great way to start a warmup!
Can you do them wrong?
Yes. However, they are very easy to learn to do right…to the point that afterwards, it’s difficult to do them wrong! I will be filming examples of how you should approach them. If you don’t get them right immediately, have no fear. It’s only a matter of a little time for the cords to shift into the proper position and in the meanwhile, as a warmup, they still work great!
Do I really need to do this? Usually I just go out and scream my face off! Seems to work for me!
Ummm…yeeaahh… good luck with that. You can’t expect that to work for long. Aging is a bitch… and there is no avoiding it. When it comes to vocal recovery after a show, (many of my students sing extremely aggressive shows in front of THOUSANDS of fans at a time) it simply takes time. And the older you get, the more time it takes! Think about the aging athlete. Warming up beforehand really helps in your ability to NOT hurt the voice during a performance. Successful artists take care of their instruments so they can enjoy long careers.
So, there is a basic overview of vocally warming up and why you need to do it! What I’m going to do is give you is a free sample of my warmup files that I produce for my students. This will be a “generic” arpeggio pattern that you can either stream or download for you to use. Personally, I would download them as then you would never get caught if at a gig the internet signal is weak. Just put it on your phone, plug in one ear bud (use your other ear to hear yourself!) and go to work!
If you find the starting point too low or the top notes too high for your range just wait until the notes come around that work for you. The file I’m sharing is a common range file that should work for about 95% of you. There will be one file for the male voice and one for the female voice.
Throughout the file not only will I be playing the notes to trill to, I will also be “coaching” you on what to think or visualize while you run through the scales.
Be sure to check out my YouTube Channel “The Vocal Coach” for more tips and files!
I know that might sound kinda strange but bear with me ok?
And the musical clip features Ian Thornley, a fantastic vocalist, nailing some high notes in Nashville live with his band Big Wreck!
Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins The Vocal Coach….want to see what some of my students are doing?
One of the most difficult things for a singer to do is to stay healthy… particularly while on the road!
Now, when you are at home, you build up you immune system, but once you go on the road, the germs that are in Toronto are not the same germs that are in Nashville, which are not the same germs that are in LA …and if it is a great big city, say for example New York, the germs from one side of the city to the other change
And then you come in contact with so many other people through meet and greets, interviews, rehearsals, performances… coupled with the fact that touring is absolutely exhausting … it doesn’t take long for the immune system to get overwhelmed….
and when you are a vocalist sickness always seems to hit the throat first!
What you have to know is The 1st line of defense for the body is the mucus membranes in the nose, sinuses and the throat.
Germs and viruses get caught in these membranes then get expelled when you sneeze, cough or swallow.
During the spring, summer and early fall things are usually ok, but come late fall or winter…
Its not only cold…but its also bone dry!
And when the heating systems kick on. they blow out pure dry air… and that includes Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Man, its really cold out here!
During the day we don’t have to worry so much because you’re eating, salivating, drinking water…the problem is at night when you are doing none of those things.
And when the membranes dry out, they can crack, and then germs and viruses have a direct line into the body….and this is why everyone gets sick this time of the year.
For example, the flu season!
The body produces mucus to protect the area which in turn can dry out….then more mucus…thats why you can wake up in the morning and be all pasty …it’s a vicious cycle.
The best way to combat this is to have a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom… but only at night! You want to let your room dry out during the day.
If you do this the body wont over produce excess mucus and the membranes wont dry out. You have a much better chance of NOT getting sick! It’s not a guarantee of course, but it sure ups the odds!
This is also necessary for vocal recovery which I will be covering in another episode.
All my students have and travel with cool mist humidifiers and I do remind them when it’s time to get them going.
Now if you live or tour in a hot climate all of this still applies… but for air conditioning!
And of course, washing your hands all the time helps as well.
So there here you go…hopefully you found this helpful.
So please subscribe or check back periodically as I will adding more new content as soon as I have it.
IF you have a suggestion as to what you might like me to cover during an episode, please let me know and I’ll take it under consideration.
If you have a burning question that you’d like to ask…post it!
I will be answering 2 posted questions a week….so post away.
I’ll be including the names of the people that contributed footage and pictures for this episode…they’re awesome! Please check them out.
Thanks for watching…and I hope to see you next time!
Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins The Vocal Coach….want to see what some of my students are doing?
Welcome to the channel!
I guess you’d like to know what the channel is all about. I’ll be sharing my tips and strategies that I use with my Rockstar students as well as doing interviews with some of the high level people I work with so they can share with you what they know and experience firsthand.
Who am I?
I am a vocal technique specialist that teaches people how to get the most out of their voices in terms of tone, power, range, versatility, and stamina.
Like most of you, I have loved music ever since I can remember – One of my earliest memories is standing on a chair to turn up the radio to listen to the Beatles (I think)
Since age of 5, I thought about becoming a vocalist – It’s all I ever dreamed about growing up …which was very difficult where I was raised and didn’t know how I was going to make that happen….
I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue my interest until I left home at 17 and have since dedicated my entire life to it
Got into a band and started touring…I ended up Touring internationally for 37 yrs
Studied intensively for 13yrs and found a love for technique (which I fostered as a high level athlete, all throughout high school) … So, I really enjoyed the challenge of seeing what I could do vocally
I have sung almost every genre of western music – Rock. Pop, R&B, Blues, Musical Theatre, Opera, Jazz and thrived on figuring out how to use technique to get the most out of what I had vocally regardless of the genre I was performing at the time
Began teaching in 1990 (30 yrs… Yikes!)
Found I was really good at “translating” classical ideas and technique so everyone could understand it and apply it to whatever genre they were performing
After a few years Started making a name for myself as a vocal teacher that seemed to be able to help damaged voices
Record companies and management companies began to refer people that they wanted “fixed”
The first person to teach voice online…. In the midst of building up my reputation as a vocal teacher, I knew that using technology was going to be the future and wanted to teach while both my students and I were on the road…. I just needed time to the tec to catch up …
As soon as it had, I started…so now I am highly “tuned” to it
The music industry has changed so much over the last 10 yrs. that for artists, putting out records/CD’s or singles is simply no longer enough. They must tour.
The majority of my students are recording artists that tour globally. What I teach them enables them to perform night after night – with proper scheduling of course!
So there you are! That’s who I am and what I do!
Please subscribe or check back periodically as I will adding new content as soon as I have it. If you have a suggestion as to what you might like me to cover for an episode let me know and I’ll take it under consideration. If you have a burning question to ask, I will answer 2 posted questions a week…so post away!
Having studied voice so extensively and performing in multiple musical genres, Mitch has been able to develop a unique vocal technique (The Mitch Seekins Vocal Technique) that empowers his students with the ability to sing in any musical genre. Mitch’s vocal technique is very different from “vocal coaching”.