This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com.
As I prepare for each new academic year, I woefully look at my tried-and-true-yet-boring-to-me roster of warm-ups. I don’t think I’m the only one. Voice teachers are always looking for the Holy Grail of warm-ups – that warm-up that will help a student free up their voice, get their breath more engaged, get them more in the mask… you name it.
Each year I try to add new warm-ups to my repertoire, sometimes cycling old ones out. Last year, I discovered a great book of warm-ups from the 1940‘s at the New York Library for the Performing Arts. This summer, I received some great pop/rock warm-ups at the International Congress of Voice Teachers courtesy of Swedish contemporary music guru Daniel Zannger Borch. I also met Australia musical director Luke Hunter and his joint creators of a fantastic new “app” called Warm Me Up. I’ll let Luke tell you more about what they’ve created.
Tell us about Warm Me Up and how it works.
Warm Me Up is designed to give singers a flexible vocal warm up wherever they are. It has 50 exercises for each of four voice types (High and Low, Female and Male). The exercises are split into 5 categories: starting gently and then gradually increasing range. You can tell Warm Me Up how long you have (say, 15 minutes) and the app will build you a warm up that guides you through the 5 categories in that time. Alternatively, you can browse the warmups and create your own individual playlist of favorites that you can use again and again. The exercises are recorded with a beautiful grand piano sound, with a singer guiding you through the first two times of each exercise. It’s really like having your own private Musical Director in your pocket!
How did the app evolve?
Vicky Jacobs, David Young and myself are all Musical Directors in Australia. We’ve spent time warming up the casts of Wicked, Jersey Boys, Xanadu, Mamma Mia and Les Mis in our time [Editorial Note: Yes, casts can take part in a group warm-up before the show in Australia – more on that in future blogs]. In 2009 we were all working together on Jersey Boys in Melbourne. We were taking it in turns to warm up the cast every night, and realized that between the three of us, we had quite a comprehensive and varied catalogue of warmups. We wanted to be able to make these available to singers, and realized that a smartphone app was really the ideal way. Our good friend Lawrence Kendall is a web developer and he jumped on board to do the important programming work.
How does your app differ from others on the market?
In two main ways: flexibility and diversity. Most of the apps have a very limited number of exercises. The great thing about Warm Me Up is that with 50 exercises, your warmup can be new every time, or tailored explicitly to your needs. You could concentrate on gentle exercises for an early morning warmup, spend longer on the higher range exercises if you’re working on extending your range, or on the longer melodic exercises if you’re focusing on intonation or breath control. The other great point of difference between Warm Me Up and other apps is the quality of the recordings. They are musical and warm, you really want to sing to them, as opposed to some apps that have a basic midi piano backing.
Given your background, do you see Warm Me Up as being a resource mainly for musical theatre singers, or is it useful for singers of any genre?
We really want Warm Me Up to be useful to singers from every genre. A good warm up can only benefit a singer from any background. We have been delighted to hear that the app has been used not only by professional Musical Theatre, contemporary and classical singers, but also by many singing teachers as a resource to encourage their students to practice. Music teachers use it to warm up their choirs at schools, and I know a few dance teachers who swear by it too!
In what ways do you see the app growing in the coming year(s)?
One thing that has been particularly wonderful for us is the community that has developed around our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and our blog on Word Press. I like how we are also helping singers outside of their warmup by sharing interesting and inspirational articles on singing, and giving tips on repertoire through the blog. This has been an extension of the app that we hadn’t initially envisaged, but has come a vital part of the Warm Me Up venture. I’m sure this will continue to grow. It has also been great to get feedback on how the app is being used by its many users from different backgrounds all over the world. There is certainly potential to add more warmups as they come along, and extra features that can enhance the singer’s experience. We’re planning some changes to the app in the near future… stay tuned!
For more information about the Warm Me Up app, please watch the above demo. Fifty new warm-ups at your finger tips. You’re welcome!
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