warm up routine…

Welcome Forums NSN Forum Storytelling Resources warm up routine…

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
  • #8877

    From: Maria Gomez de la Torre
    Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:37:18 -0700

    Storytelling Masters,

    Just out of curiosity, before a presentation do you do any warm up exercises?

    I guess everyone does some type of warm up before performing in front of an audience – whether it be for storytelling, acting, ballet, you name it… But I was wondering if anyone feels any difference when they don’t warm up before a performace?

    Eager to hear your thoughts.



    From: Mary Garrett
    Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2018 16:35:37 -0500

    I’ve started doing a bit of tai chi between the car and the performance, to loosen up and find a calm state of being.

    I talk through a few lines en route to make sure my voice is relaxed and warmed up.

    Stories Make the World Go Around,

    Mary Garrett St. Peters, Missouri

    Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs


    From: Richard Martin
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 06:40:16 +0200

    A proper vocal warm-up routine is one of the many things I feel I ought to do, but generally don’t. I haven’t noticed any difference – which may be that my way of doing exercises has simply been inadequate.

    What I do find helpful is to focus on any warm-up patter I might use with the audience when I first go on stage, making sure that I will come across relaxed and confident – grounded.

    Similarly I usually also focus on my segue from that patter to the opening of the first story, making sure that it is the correct tale I am heading into. (It has happened a couple of times with tales which I tell a lot, i.e. can easily tell on auto-pilot, that I have found myself heading into the wrong story! I *think* I have always managed to handle this without anyone apart from myself knowing, but it annoys me no end.)

    So perhaps these “content” warm-ups ensure that I project my feeling of enjoyment in performing, and that might help my sense of physical comfort and ensure that my voice is in good shape right from the start. (So perhaps I am doing a vocal warm-up after all.)

    Richard Martin
    “Prince Hat under the Ground” is the latest upload to the video gallery of over 80 folk tales
    Watch here: http://tellatale.eu/tales_hat.html

    “The Magic Pisspot: Swedish folk tales” (Per Gustavsson, trans. Richard Martin) published Oct. 2017
    Details: http://www.tellatale.eu/pisspot.html


    From: Cassandra Wye
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 09:01:08 +0100

    Hi Maria

    Yes I do, always have done.

    I think it is essential to allow yourself to shift from one mode of being to another, from travelling, finding, arriving, eating etc to being ready for performance

    I use movement and sound exercises so that my body and voice are warmed up and “ready to go”.

    Its interesting that in sports such as sky-diving and sailing, we are taught that “ready to go-ness” – which storytellers seem to miss out on in their training.

    I came from a physical theatre/dance and circus training and “ready to go-ness” is essential.
    You can’t be worrying about parking if you are hanging upside down by your toe-nails.

    I also top and tail every story so I have a clear image of all of them – again to move into “ready to tell-ness”

    I use the same exercises for readiness for performance, workshops, training, presentations etc.

    Ready for anything – is how I like to be!

    Best Wishes


    From: Settle Storie
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 09:06:42 +0100

    Yes I always do a warm up. I met a storyteller recently who has damaged their voice because of performing for years and not warming up



    From: Diane Edgecomb
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 14:14:46 -0400

    In terms of kind of warm-up necessary- a lot depends on the demands you are placing on your voice and on your body.

    If your storytelling style is mostly in your natural vocal register while standing in front of a microphone or seated in a chair then being relaxed, with your energy at the ready, having positive thoughts about the interaction to come and an imagination that is tuned to the images of the story is probably enough. But if your style includes moments of song or has a lot of characterizations and vocal range as well as expressive movement then it helps to warm up upper and lower register of the voice, stretch your muscles and practice supported breathing so that you can be flexible and expressive.

    Warm-ups help us to avoid damaging voice or body – the damage happens because we may be accustomed to wrong vocal use or because muscles are tight and not limber. I personally do not warm up often before a performance. I trained for so many years in vocal and physical work including singing, theater, dance and expressive movement and I am using these tools on a regular basis so they are kind of at the ready. But if I start encountering performance problems – which I did recently – I go back into training to find exercises to remind myself of the supported way to use the voice. Just being back in a training routine immediately made a difference as to what I could access during the storytelling.

    The most important thing of course is to be able to be relaxed and present for the group that is gathered. Warm-ups can be many different kinds of exercises but the test is: Do they help me get in tune with my body, voice and inner self? Finding your own regular routine of warm-ups whether before a performance or as part of ongoing training is invaluable. It will bring you to a sense of presence, vocal range and a limber body so that the story can express itself fully.

    Thanks all for bringing up this thread!!


    Diane Edgecomb

    Celebrate the magic of the Solstice with two special June events

    Midsummer Magic storyteller Diane Edgecomb with harper Margot Chamberlain; Thursday June 14th from 2:00-3:00 pm at the Rabb Hall Boston Public Library 700 Boylston Street, Copley Square Celebrate with ancient legends of transformation, tree-spirits, and fireflies.

    In the Groves: A Summer Solstice Journey storyteller Diane Edgecomb with harper Margot Chamberlain Friday June 22nd and Saturday June 23rd at Arnold Arboretum 125 the Arborway, Boston, MA This Summer Solstice journey takes the audience for a twilight journey along tree-lined paths with story and music accompanying the way.


    “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future,” poet and philosopher David Whyte


    From: Jill Lamede
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 11:25:31 +0100

    Verty few venues can offer the privacy needed for a full vocal warm-up!

    My ‘routine’ is pretty instinctive. In the car I may just check that my voice
    is forward – hum a bit until lips and nose are buzzing, I try to arrive early enough to begin to feel comfortable in the space and sense how much I will need to project in order to be heard by the back row. Then setting up my storybasket etc gives my body a physical sense of the space and an awareness of the size of movement and gestures required.

    All this purely instinctive – I don’t need to think about it – but I do need my personal space at that time. I can’t handle conversations just before a performance.

    Best wishes
    The Tintagel Storyteller

    Sent from my iPad


    From: Matlack, David Charles
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 12:21:09 +0000

    David Holt taught me a good routine years ago and I still use it. I repeat “unga unga unga chicka chicka munga” numerous times. The “unga” sound really resonates in the head and sinuses so you can feel how those are going to sound, and it actually seems to warm them up to resonate correctly so I repeat that as much as I need to. In between repetitions I vigorously massage my cheeks in an up and down motion…shaking them loose.

    Then I go through the musical scales even though I can’t hit a note to save my soul…perhaps that’s why I’m a storyteller and not a musician. I run through the scales first with a “mew” for each note, then repeat with an “aw” for each note. “Mew” is more pointed and then “aw” really opens things up. Then I blend the notes into a siren-like sound, up and down, up and down. I repeat that until I don’t get cracking on the high notes or a faltering or missing of the of the low notes. More cheek shaking and massaging my larynx.

    I do as much of the above as I can before the sound check so I’m checking a warmed-up voice. On the sound check, I always use the same set of non-sense phrases and canonical first lines such as “A long time ago” and a few others. These are old friends and I know how they should sound. If that day’s set has some lines with a lot of P’s and S’s, I quickly run through those lines to remind myself where to be sure not to pop or hiss during the performance, but otherwise I don’t do a sound check with anything from the set I am about to do. Well maybe if there’s an unusual sound effect like a whistle or a shout away from the mic, I practice that and confirm that someone in the back can hear it. During the sound check I also do some body work to imagine myself being fully present and grounded on the stage. The latter I do by lightly bouncing in my knees with my soles flat on the boards and visualizing growing roots. I also run through the geography of the story and make sure I know where everything is in my space. I often check how the stage is oriented to the four cardinal directions and stay true to that during the story.

    After the sound check, back to the above voice warm up and some body loosening like arm windmills, ballet bar exercises, etc. I have never encountered difficulties in finding a place to do this, but this often means finding myself in back of a building or being willing to look silly to passers-by. All of this requires getting to the venue at least an hour early, but I try to do that anyway as a courtesy to my hosts.

    By day, I’m a professor and I warm up my voice for lecture, even when I have a mic. An hour is a long time to be using this valuable instrument. dcm


    From: Fran Stallings
    Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 09:15:48 -0500

    In weeks when I spend more time writing at my desk than performing or teaching, my voice can get rusty. I’ve tried to get in the habit of warming up and singing every time I’m running errands in the car. Folks in neighboring cars at a stoplight sometimes look at me funny, but I just smile…

    Warmng up in the car on the way to a performance also works for me, stateside. My major vocal challenge comes overseas where I often travel to performances by public transit or sponsor’s car: hotel room warm-up has to be enough, because once I get to a site and am surrounded by sponsors, there’s no opportunity.



    From: Laura Simms
    Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 11:24:05 -0400

    Many years ago after listening to a tape of my voice I was startled by how high, stressed and thin, it was. I began a search for vocal warm ups that ranged from relaxing the voice, and the throat, to operative singing, even rock and roll singing (that was fun). What changed my voice was work with the Ry Hart theater teacher Richard Armstrong. It not only opened my voice and increased the range of sound, tone and level of voice, but it made me deeply aware of the difference between the voice embodied and the voice relaxed. An embodied voice has effect on teller and listeners – it literally sets the channels of the body vibrating and allows for listeners to relax and deepen their responsiveness during the telling. They can more easily listen beyond the content into the sound of the word and intention of the telling and the silence underlying it all. I continue to do some physical warm up before performance that has to do with breathing into my body (for me chi kung has been very helpful) and stretching to get the crustiness of muscles loosened. then I begin to let sound out from my body until I can breathe into sound from different parts of my body. the backbone of my preparation is five to ten minutes (sometimes even 2 miknutes) or mindfulness awareness befoe it all so that I am reconnecting with a sense of presence as the foundation of connection with my audience. This warm up can be five minutes or can be an hour or longer depending on my life and need.



    From: Simon Brooks
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:37:51 -0400

    The only warm up I usually do is sing in the car.

    Most of my gigs are more than 40 minutes away. Many are well over an hour away, so I sing in the car. I start off with a soft voice and quiet songs, and end up belting out some great or rowdy tunes!

    If I have not been telling for a while, or if I have been telling a lot, I start by doing me me me mar mar my my moe moe moe and really working my mouth and throat. I sometimes also poke my tongue out and wiggle it around as far as I can, stretching it out. I don’t do that on the highway, mostly on quiet back roads!

    I also pretend to practice in the car. I don’t believe that is real practice if I am driving, as I am concentrating on driving. But I am working my voice for the stories I will be telling.

    Find the right songs though. Death metal is not good to warm up your voice with.



    From: Elinor Benjamin
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 18:57:25 -0300

    Hello all

    I love lip trills for warming up voice and innards, and releasing tension.

    Here is a You Tube of the method https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK-0PhiTAL8

    When I first started doing them, though, my husband said: “Why are you going around sounding like a horse?”

    Elinor Benjamin in Nova Scotia


    From: Timothy Jennings
    Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 17:34:49 -0400

    I don’t work so much anymore, and rarely need to warm up, but when I do I follow what I remember of Frankie Armstrong’s workshop a million years ago at the Society for Storytelling’s Gather-In at St. Fagin’s Folk Museum in Cardiff.

    The simplest part is to yawn and stretch. Just like you’re a kid playacting getting up in the morning, big audible “ahy yaAAAaa” yawn, stretching the arms over the head and out to the sides, gently rocking my shoulders and torso side to side

    Deep breathing and stretching in general, neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, back.

    A gentle vocal cascade of descending pitch starting falsetto ending with a rumble.

    Bwah! Bwah! Bwah! Bwah!

    Blub/blur your lips blblblblblblblblbl-linggggggggg

    Somewhere in there I’m apt to yodel.

    I like to sing in the car, but it messes up my voice if I do it for very
    long, so I generally avoid it if I’m going to do a show.



    From: Tim Sheppard
    Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:13:41 +0100

    I remember that workshop!

    I also remember that Frankie asked for a volunteer to come and push her over. And all the people looked at her, a completely blind middle-aged, slightly-built and shortish woman, and thought “No! I’m not pushing over this lovely and vulnerable woman!”

    And I thought “Yeah, I’m up for that”

    And I, a fit, muscular, youngish man, took hold of her shoulders and shoved her with all my strength.

    She barely budged. Instead she called everyone’s attention to my stance, that she couldn’t see, and calmly taught the class.

    In truth I knew that I wouldn’t be able to move her. She reminded me in many ways of a previous mentor, another Franki of similar build, who I had once tried to push over along with 15 other people. We hadn’t fared any better.

    In my experience Frankis are deeply inspiring, and Tims are changed by them.

    Hi Tim! When are we going to have that game of Go?


    From: Timothy Jennings
    Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 15:31:47 -0400

    Hi, Tim

    Oh, I’m still Tim too (or Tim2 or TimJ) it’s just that as the web has progressed I have had increasing difficulty figuring out how to juggle my various email accounts, and so far the most reliable is my mac.com / me.com/ icloud/com trinity, and I’m registered there (thanks to my bank and high-security driver’s license defaults in establishing the debit card that bought my latest iMac) as Timothy.

    I remember my visit to the UK fondly, have only vague memories of our workshop on “the internet is important” that we presented together (mostly you presented, I just said “and I came here because of the web!” like a magic trick.) I especially remember the iron-age huts at St. Fagins with the thatched roof that let the smoke go right u[ through it, no chimney or smoke hole or nothing. Otherwise, very much like a Five Nations indigenous American longhouse. And the row of representative worker’s housing decade by decade. And, Armstrong’s workshop. And the brutal take-down of the guy who wrote “Seek out the voice of the critic” who was seeking to privilege folktales and epics over personal experience & literary storytelling, which debate I wish he had won.

    I bought Franky’s cassette, which featured her singing on one side and workshop activities on the other. I used the workshop side, especially the first ten minutes or so, quite a bit, then got a one-off copy of her workshop CD, with a yoga instructor, which I didn’t like as well.

    I appreciated her approach, which was based around her memories of hard working rural folk singing loudly while walking outdoors (as I remember) which was a practice of mine from an early age, until my kids made me stop. It was not that uncommon in my (mostly black) neighborhood as a child. I’d hear them through the open window walking past my house while I was in bed at night, generally two or three people walking together, singing gospel and soul in harmony, their unison audible footsteps keeping the rhythm. And as a young hippy, I’d hear gospel groups sing as they waited for the bus across the street from our rented hippy house, after their music jobs down the street at the True-Grace-Memorial-House-of-Prayer-for-All-People-built-on-the-rock-of-the-Apostolic-Faith.

    I have sadly declined in my go-playing ability (and cognitively generally I fear, though as a storyteller I’m still pretty good) but I would be willing to try a game with you, for fun and old time’s sake, online. I think there’s probably still someplace we can do that. How up on it are you, these days? How are you generally? We could take this off list if you like.

    You might be interested in a thing I wrote way back when on the relatively-progressive (they did not get behind Bernie) Democratic political blog Daily Kos during the Hillary VS Obama primaries, comparing their campaigning styles to chess and go.



Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Scroll to Top