Share

cover art for Did You Warm-Up Before You Sang? with Tessa Smith

Vocal Advancement Podcast

Did You Warm-Up Before You Sang? with Tessa Smith

Season 1, Ep. 21

Do you do vocal warm-ups before you sing?


If you’re like a lot of us, you may gloss over this part of your singing process. Maybe you feel you don’t have enough time. Or maybe you think good warm-ups can’t be done without a piano.

This week’s guest Tessa Smith knows how you feel. In fact, she spent much of her early life skipping her warm-ups and going straight to singing. 


But a chance meeting with session singer Kim Chandler showed Tessa that beneficial warm-ups could be done in five minutes, anywhere and anytime, with no special tools. Intrigued, Tessa began researching vocal warm-ups. What she found enabled her to embrace a new philosophy where warm-ups don’t have to be prescribed exercises but adaptable activities that performers change based on what their voices need.


Join us as Tessa reveals why warm-ups are so important. We’ll also delve into the benefits offered by short and long warm-ups and the obstacles that keep musicians from warming up. Finally, we’ll explore how performers can check-in with themselves to discover what warm-ups or cool-downs will help them the most.


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How her early music teachers inspired Tessa to pursue a career in jazz — and later teaching 6:44
  2. How a meeting with Kim Chandler caused Tessa to re-evaluate her beliefs about vocal warm-ups 12:25
  3. The different benefits offered by short, physiological warm-ups and longer warm-ups 16:25
  4. Common obstacles that keep many students from wanting to do warm-ups 18:24
  5. What singers need to ask themselves before deciding what vocal warm-ups they need 19:25
  6. How much time a singer should spend warming up their voice to avoid straining it 22:58
  7. How to approach “cool-down” periods and get your voice back to its base position after performing 25:50
  8. How singing lessons can help you understand what warm-ups and cool-downs your voice needs at any given time 31:35
  9. The type of vocal warm-ups non-singers (professional speakers, podcasters) can benefit from 32:56
  10. Why teaching students how to adapt vocal warm-ups to their needs motivates them to actually use those exercises in the field 34:14
  11. The responsibility singing teachers have in properly explain vocal warm-ups and their purpose to students 38:16
  12. How Tessa teaches students to alter warm-ups to fit whatever they’re working on 38:59
  13. Tessa’s favorite SOVT exercise — and the importance of not relying on external tools for warm-ups 40:32


Find the educational courses and resources on vocal warm-ups Tessa describes at her website.


Ready to get some more help with your warm-ups? IVA is coming out with a vocal warm-up IOS and Android app in October 2023 for both male and female singers. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when the app is released!  


About the Institute for Vocal Advancement

Interested in checking out our webinars and online courses? See what’s coming up in our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 8. Evidence Based Pedagogy with Kari Ragan

    01:00:52
    Voice teachers today can build expertise in so many different fields — vocal anatomy, musical theory, acting, multiple singing techniques — that many teachers feel they need to have all the answers.And that’s too much to ask of anyone. Because the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know — and how developing a network of experts is essential to provide you and your students with the knowledge they need.Our guest today, singing voice specialist Kari Ragan, knows a lot about the power of collaboration. While she’s been teaching singers for over forty years, Kari appreciates that she doesn’t know everything about vocal health and regularly collaborates with medical experts to help rehabilitate singers with injured voices or vocal pathology.Join Tom and Heather as they learn more about how Kari has collaborated with doctors, teachers, and other experts in her decades-long career to help singers. Reflect on when it’s important to know when you need to refer out to provide students with the best teachers for their needs. And discover all the resources available today (including many provided by the IVA!) for developing a support network that helps everyone achieve their full potential.In this episode, we cover:How Kari’s teaching career led her to work with many music genres, age groups, and singers (5:12)What a Singing Voice Specialist (SVS) is, and why they need to work in tandem with a medical team (9:47)The major trends and changes Kari has witnessed in vocal pedagogy and research over her decades-long career (16:01)Misconceptions surrounding evidence-based pedagogy, and how this form of pedagogy includes multiple areas of expertise (22:01)The purpose of Kari’s book, “A Systematic Approach to Voice” (30:56)The evolution of teaching classical and contemporary singing techniques (37:29)Why being willing and able to refer to outside experts is important (41:45)The necessity of staying current with vocal research for voice coaches (45:19)All the opportunities for collaboration available to modern voice teachers (46:10)The strength that comes from admitting what you don’t know (54:30)Stay in touch with Kari at her website where you can find links to many of her articles. Check out Kari’s webinar “A Systematic Approach to Voice,” which covers the definition and application of Evidence-Based Voice Pedagogy (EBVP).And make sure you hear from all our other guests by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast and subscribing to our YouTube channel! Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network to provide you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Our trainers teach from an empathic mindset, showing you how to improve your own teaching style. Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 7. Can being a singer damage your mental health? with Dr George Musgrave

    01:01:32
    Disclaimer: This podcast mentions suicide in connection with the music industrySometimes, students become so passionate about building a music career that they jeopardize their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Beyond that, the music industry is competitive and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide among occupational musicians. Even performers who overcame huge odds to become professionals later discover they don’t want to be part of such a stressful world and seek an exit plan.This episode’s guest Dr. George Musgrave has a unique perspective on this. A former professional rap artist once signed with Sony Records, Dr. Musgrave now enjoys a position as a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Sociology and Creative Industries at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research focuses on the psychological and emotional experience of musicians building their careers.In this episode, we’ll discuss:(5:07) How George made the shift from the music world to academia — and used his experiences to improve research on music and mental health.(11:04) Why music careers can be sources of great joy and great suffering.(17:00) The “dark side of optimism.”(19:42) How and why musicians who see music as their main career can have worse mental health outcomes compared to those who do not.(25:01) The challenges of monetizing music in today’s online industry — and why the average musician’s earnings can be worse than a McDonald’s employee.(29:22) How your personal view of success has a positive or negative impact on your mental health.(33:56) The importance of having a “Plan B” backup plan when pursuing a music career(36:40) The responsibility teachers have for equipping students with skills they can use in their careers, no matter how “big” they make it.(40:20) The inequalities and hazards of the music industry(49:10) Why the performing lifestyle is not for everyone(51:40) If turning your hobby into a career can take some of the pleasure away(53:14) Why having a backup plan is useful when training to be a voice teacherGeorge lists many mental health resources for musicians. These include:Tonic Music for Mental Health: Training and support for music industry professionalshttps://www.thecalmzone.net/: Suicide supportMusic Support: Support for peers in the music industry affected by mental illness and/or addictionIf you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can offer additional helpful resources.Visit George on his university page and read his papers.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network that provides you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Our trainers teach from the empathic mindset, showing you how to improve your own teaching style.Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 6. Delivering Helpful Feedback with Lynn Maxfield

    56:45
    As voice teachers, we want to offer good feedback to our students and let them know how they can improve their performance.But could our delivery of this feedback affect how well our students take in the new information?As the Associate Director of the National Center for Voice and Speech, Lynn Maxfield, PhD, regularly researches voice pedagogy, vocology, and how motor learning applies to voice teachers. His studies have revealed that although teachers are conditioned to regularly comment on a student’s performance, remaining silent and allowing a student time to process their actions — as opposed to immediately providing feedback — is more beneficial for active learning.In this episode, we discuss:(4:22) How Lynn’s experiences in vocology gave him an appreciation for the complexity of the cognitive and neuromuscular system.(9:22) Why instructors find it so challenging to not provide feedback.(11:51) The value of creating silent spaces to let students process their performance before they hear your feedback.(17:40) When most teachers begin providing feedback during lessons (and why this disrupts the learning process).(20:38) The difficulties of reflecting on the skills used in a longer performance(25:55) If giving yourself time to process your own performance when practicing alone is helpful(28:13) The debate over whether students benefit more from an internal or external locus of attention (and why their skill level may factor into this)(35:44) Why teachers need to constantly adapt their general teaching skills during each lesson(37:30) Why students need to be in the proper headspace to benefit from a lesson (and the scientific reason for why yelling yourself hoarse at a concert isn’t good for you).(48:08) Why spacing voice lessons further apart can be beneficial for advanced singersFind Lynn at the Utah Center for Vocology and the University of Utah. The textbook Lynn mentions, “Motor Learning and Performance: From Principles to Application” by Timothy D. Lee and Richard A. Schmidt, can be purchased on Amazon.Tom started a spirited discussion with Lynn at (25:55) on the value of practicing without feedback. Join in by sharing your thoughts, opinions, and insights by emailing us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and leave us a comment!And make sure you hear from all of our guests by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast and subscribing to our YouTube channel! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network to provide you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 5. Personalising the Use of Imagery in Voice Lessons with Jenna Brown

    54:55
    If you’re like many vocal coaches, you’ve probably used the metaphor of a balloon filling up with air to illustrate proper breathing techniques to your students.But does this type of imagery make sense to everyone?According to this episode’s guest, vocal health specialist Jenna Brown, a more effective technique is to let students take an active role in creating images that resonate with them during your singing lessons. Using this “symbolic modeling” technique not only builds a stronger rapport between teacher and student but can also offer shortcuts to learning.In her chat with Tom and Heather, Jenna delves into what she’s discovered as both a voice researcher and vocal coach. She examines the different types of imagery teachers can use in their classes and the effectiveness of using multiple forms of imagery.In this episode, you’ll learn:(6:00) Why singing and teaching professionally led Jenna to become a MA voice pedagogy student researching ways of teaching students better.(9:18) How science, the arts, and relationships all play a part in imagery and voice(11:31) What imagery in voice lessons looks like(14:24) Why adopting a multi-modal approach to imagery can be useful for making learning connections.(16:01) Why most teachers tend to use “stock imagery” in their lessons — and how we can make these images more personal to students(18:45) How Jenna helps students discover the singing images that resonate most with them(22:55) When (and if) teachers should impose their own understanding of how the voice works onto a lesson(24:35) The challenges of personalizing imagery when teaching large classes — and the common experiences singers can have with their voices(27:38) How teachers can help students learn faster by building a shared language of personalized metaphors(30:49) The negative side of using imagery — how metaphors can lead to confusion and misinterpretation for some students(34:52) How science is regarding imagery now(39:36) Why students need to develop a toolbox of skills to adapt to the changing needs of their voices(42:40) How voice teachers can use imagery in their classes without realizing it(45:30) The importance of seeing every student in your class as an individual — and how to adapt your lessons to their personal experiences  You can find Jenna at Bristol Voice Care and her website. Book singing lessons, coaching sessions, or workshops with her at hello@jennabrownmezzo.co.uk.Check out our YouTube channel — and subscribe to see all our other podcast videos! Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network to provide you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 4. A Very Important Message for Voice Teachers with Bob Marks

    01:02:13
    How does auditioning for the stage and screen look like in today’s post-pandemic era?Now, casting directors prefer reviewing “self-tapes” or pre-recorded videos that showcase a performer’s acting or singing talents during the initial audition process. It’s a major shift from the days when actors had to meet in person and perform live.But according to vocal coach Bob Marks, this break with tradition is opening many opportunities for performers who no longer need to travel across the country to audition for their dream roles. That said, creating an excellent self-tape and leveraging the power of online casting takes skill — which is why Bob now coaches performers on how to produce the type of self-tape that not only showcases their skills but also helps them stand out from thousands of other auditions.In this episode, you’ll learn:(7:11) How networking enabled Bob to build a successful career as a vocal coach(13:58) The advantages of using self-tapes in auditions(15:49) How to appear professional when creating self-tapes for auditions(19:11) The number of songs an actor should have ready when auditioning — and how to choose an appropriate song for an audition(20:25) How to pick out a 90-second cut out of a song to include for your self-tape audition (23:25) The songs you don’t want to pick for your audition (which many other singers often overuse) (29:37) How Bob helps prioritize and organize material when a performer needs to make and submit a self-tape right away(32:34) Why the self-tape is here to stay — and why that’s a good thing for singers, actors, and casting directors(33:56) How self-tapes can open the door for performers not based in New York and London (35:02) How online learning is changing the way voice coaches teach, and how singing teachers need to adapt to such changes(45:00) How self-tapes are being used for marketing(50:00) The benefits of being able to email self-tapes vs. traveling to auditions(52:10) How casting practices both limit and increase opportunities for performersIf you’d like Bob to help you with your voice and auditioning technique, contact him via his website.Bob’s book, “88 Keys to Successful Singing Performances: Audition Advice from One of America’s Top Vocal Coaches” can be purchased on Amazon.Download Bob’s IVA webinar, “Keys to Audition Success with Bob Marks” which covers how to prepare for your audition, build confidence, choose your music, and work with accompanists.We’ve got many other exciting guests lined up for this season’s Vocal Advancement Podcast. Make sure you hear from all of them by following us! Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementCheck out our webinars in our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 3. Empowering Transgender and Non-Binary Singers in Voice Lessons with Ajay Henry

    59:51
    As singing teachers, we want our students to be comfortable with their voices and willing to explore their range. But what happens when we instruct non-binary and transgender students who experience voice dysphoria, or discomfort from the feeling that their voice does not match their gender identity?This episode’s guest, vocal coach, songwriter, and music lecturer Ajay Henry, has been exploring ways to help non-binary and transgender students feel more empowered and comfortable with their voices. Having taught many non-binary and transgender singers, Ajay encourages vocal teachers to focus on what each individual student wants to achieve and let them help guide their lessons.It’s an approach that requires teachers to rethink common beliefs about music, such as gendered roles in singing. Yet it also helps build trust between student and teacher — and can create a massive impact in a transgender or non-binary singer’s identity that goes beyond their singing.In this episode, you’ll learn:(17:57) How early vocal injuries and an experience with a vocal therapist led Ajay to do his Masters study on vocal anatomy and breathing(12:00) How Ajay built on the work of voice educator Liz Jackson Hearns to better help his transgender students(16:07) Why it’s so important to view each singer as an individual when making voice lessons more inclusive and choosing what language to use(18:09) How Ajay deals with voice dysphoria by focusing on each singer’s comfort level and goals for their voice(21:56) How steering away from gendered roles in singing can help students discover the ranges where they feel their voices best fit(29:01) How teachers can prepare to teach transgender or non-binary students — and what type of support network they should have to provide needed help  (32:38) The practice of “binding,” how it can affect a student’s ability to do breathwork, and what adjustments a teacher can make to sensitively work with the student(36:45) How helping students become more comfortable with their voices can positively impact them outside of singing lessons(41:34) The difficulties of adapting current singing curriculums to the needs and challenges of non-binary and transgender singers(44:24) How to find more resources to help teach non-binary and transgender singersKeep up with Ajay’s activities on his Instagram and his website. The singing teacher Ajay references is Liz Jackson Hearns, co-founder of The Voice Lab, an inclusive voice studio dedicated to cultivating transformative relationships through voice and music education.Ajay Henry is just one of the many talented performers and educators we’ll be interviewing this season. Make sure you hear from them all by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network to provide you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Our trainers teach from an empathic mindset, showing you how to improve your own teaching style. Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 2. Using Singing to build Communities, Health and a sense of belonging with Lisa Strong

    55:07
    Think back to your time singing in your favorite choir or band. What did you love most about the experience?You likely enjoyed the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group that shares your love of music. Ideally, you found good friends and formed close bonds.But did you know this feeling of community offers mental, physical, and emotional benefits that go beyond socializing?This episode’s guest, Lisa Strong, does. An occupational therapist, professional singer, and leader of the Walton Feel Good Choir, Lisa started her singing group to raise community spirit in the Tendring area of Essex, England. As community members, which included retirees, dementia patients, and the socially isolated, joined, Lisa saw improvements in their cognition, multi-tasking abilities, and communication as they sang together and supported each other.The group even became motivated to raise money for local charities through their performances, further nurturing their sense of belonging and interconnectedness.These experiences motivated Lisa to conduct formal research on health and singing to show health professionals the holistic benefits of singing and how inclusive choirs can improve the health of an entire community. She shares some of her findings with Heather and Tom, revealing how choir leaders can create a greater sense of belonging in their groups by adopting a more inclusive policy.In this episode, you’ll learn:(8:46) How Lisa started the Walton Feel Good Choir to deal with the social isolation in her town (12:07) Why Lisa is building an evidence-based model to show health professionals the holistic benefits of group singing(16:20) What people need to have to enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of group singing(17:47) How group singing helps improve memory, attention, focus, and other cognitive abilities(21:21) Why certain choirs do not foster a sense of belonging(25:47) How to build a sense of belonging in your choir by welcoming and accommodating choir members of all backgrounds(30:17) Why different styles of choir leadership may attract different types of singers(34:32) How to effectively promote the mental and emotional health benefits of group singing to the mental health community(39:28) The business benefits of creating a space for group singing(42:12) The mental and emotional benefits singing instructors gain from leading a choirVisit the Walton Feel Good Choir website and its Facebook page to learn more about its mission and Lisa’s work. You can hear valuable insights from talented performers and educators right now by listening to the Vocal Advancement Podcast. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide both veteran vocal coaches and teachers-in-training with a community that provides teaching tools for your classrooms. And our conferences are fun events where guests can socialize, teach, and learn from each other. Want to see what we can do for you? Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 1. Getting Started as a Voice Teacher with Heather and Tom

    51:50
    Welcome to Season Two of the Vocal Advancement Podcast! Whether you’re a longtime listener or tuning in for the first time, we invite you to delve into all the fun and useful resources we have for you.Join Tom and Heather as they share the exciting lineup of voice coaches, researchers, and professional singers they’ll be interviewing this season. You’ll also get the inside scoop on IVACON 2024, the first IVA conference open to all voice teachers (not just IVA students and teachers) and all the amazing opportunities you’ll have to practice and level up your teaching skills with veteran vocal coaches.If you’re just getting started in voice teaching and wondering how to gain the skills and confidence to manage your classes, you’ll love this episode. Heather and Tom reflect on their early teaching days and explain how they turned teaching theory into practice.In this episode, you’ll learn:4:57: Who Tom and Heather will be interviewing about singing and teaching this season(7:13) How to attend this year’s Vocal Advancement conference in June 2024 — even if you’re not affiliated with IVA!(13:00) How Heather got her start as a voice teacher and gained the skills and confidence to build a full-time career offering private vocal lessons(15:34) How Tom’s singing teacher helped him build his career as a voice coach(18:10) Why new teachers have a high turnover of students in their first year — and why this can be a good thing(20:07) The transformation singing teachers go through in their first year as they learn to shift focus from their lessons to their students’ needs(21:40) Why improving your own singing technique can make you a better voice teacher (22:50) How attending conferences and observing other teachers can improve your teaching(24:42) The challenges that come with teaching an advanced singer — and what you as a voice coach can offer them(29:32) Why it’s important to go off-book and try unconventional teaching methods (32:11) The importance of taking advantage of every teaching opportunity when you’re starting out — and where you can find those opportunities(39:15) The business side of voice teaching — what realities do you have to be prepared for when you become self-employed?(45:34) The importance of constantly investing in your own education as you grow as a teacherReady for our upcoming IVACON 2024 in Edinburgh from June 17-21? Then visit the IVACON 2024 event page to learn all about our event speakers, programming, and accommodations. Be sure to register today to take advantage of all our sessions, resources, goodies — and karaoke night!Are you excited to hear from all the talented performers and educators we’ll be interviewing this season? Make sure you don’t miss a single episode by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThis year’s IVA conference may be months away, but you can start enjoying the teaching resources IVA provides you with right now by checking out how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 24. Working on The Voice Germany

    01:11:39
    Do any of your students dream of performing on a TV show like The Voice or one of the Idols singing competitions?Then they’ll want to hear the insights of this week’s guest Stephanie Borm-Krüger, co-founder of the Institute for Vocal Advancement and vocal coach for The Voice of Germany. Being a coach on a TV show like The Voice is challenging, especially when you only get a few minutes with each contestant to help them sound their best. Yet according to Stephanie, working in such a high-pressure environment also inspires coaches be more creative in their teaching methods — and unlocks opportunities to work some truly extraordinary people.Join us as Stephanie reveals what it really takes for anyone — singer and teacher — to succeed in the world of show business. Learn how stepping out of your comfort zone helps you gain more trust in your instincts. And discover where resilience really comes into play when working in such a high-stress field. In this episode, you’ll learn:How learning how to fix her own damaged voice helped Stephanie discover how to fix hard voices in other singers 8:05The vital role networking played in introducing Stephanie to the world of show business 13:52How much time a vocal coach gets to work with the singers on The Voice — and the challenges this creates 21:54The issues of maintaining vocal health and advocating for singers in a competitive and high-stress atmosphere 26:39How to succeed in a show like The Voice 35:16The importance of realizing if working in a high-stress field is right for you 41:17Why stepping out of your comfort zone is important for developing a good toolbox of teaching techniques 44:11The benefits of observing other master teachers at work 49:47Stephanie offers professional voice training to singers of all levels and styles. Learn how she can help you by visiting her IVA profile pageDisclaimer: The free November online teaching summit Tom mentions has been pushed to January 2024 — sign up for our mailing list, and we’ll let you know when you can sign up for this and other great free resources!Can’t wait for the summit? You can hear valuable insights from talented performers and educators right now by listening to the Vocal Advancement Podcast. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementInterested in becoming a better vocal coach? The Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) connects you with teachers who can provide you with more teaching tools for your classrooms. The IVA community and trainers teach from the empathic mindset that students of all ages benefit from, showing you how to improve your own teaching style.Check out our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!