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A Musician's Guide to the Pre-Concert Warm-Up
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A Musician's Guide to the Pre-Concert Warm-Up
A Musician's Guide to the Pre-Concert Warm-Up
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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

You have now warmed us up for our next story about warming up. It's a topic producer David Schulman knows a lot about. He's interviewed musicians of all stripes for his series Musicians in their Own Words. And he likes to limber up by asking this question: what do you do to warm up. He has post the question to concert pianist, Brazilian jazz vocalist, Tuvan throat singers. And the musician answers can be as distinct as the music they make.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ABIGAIL WASHBURN (Folk Musician): I just do scales.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LANG LANG (Classical Pianist): It's quite boring but it works.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. FLORA PURIM (Singer): In Santa Barbara, I live in front of the ocean. When I practice, I go to the Natural History Museum, to the bird room. And I try to imitate the birds. It's beautiful because I see if I can speak with them, you know - so I hear the sound and…

(Soundbite of noise)

Ms. PURIM: I'm very good at seagulls.

(Soundbite of noise)

Ms. CECILIA BARTOLI (Singer): I love to have a good, light healthy lunch and a little nap. And then before a performance, yes, I warm up the voice but maybe no more than five, 10 minutes, because I have to keep the freshness of the voice. So the only way to do it is to be silent.

Mr. ALBERT KUVEZIN (Tuvan Rocker): Usually, I just stop something from traditional to one musical.

(Soundbite of noise)

Ms. GILLIAN WELCH (Singer; Songwriter): I warm up pretty much the way most blue grass singers warm up, which is like…

(Soundbite of clearing throat)

Ms. WELCH: That's about…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WELCH: …that's about me warming up.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll")

Ms. WELCH: (Singing) I want to sing that rock and roll. I want to 'lectrify my soul. 'Cause everybody been making a shout, so big and loud. It's been drowning me out. I want to sing that rock and roll.

Ms. DAR WILLIAMS (Singer): The best thing probably to do is to sing with the radio on the way to the gig.

DAVID SCHULMAN: Does it matter what radio you listen to?

Ms. WILLIAMS: Pardon me?

SCHULMAN: Does it matter what kind of (unintelligible)?

Ms. WILLIAMS: Oh - well, I would say all these stations and stuff like that. I mean, something that - with familiar music that you could sing along with loudly.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LAWRENCE BROWNLEE (Singer): I start with lip trills. We call it buzziness.

(Soundbite of noise)

Mr. BROWNLEE: Very simple. Not putting any stress on the voice at all. And from that I do…

(Soundbite of noise)

Mr. BROWNLEE: …I do a lot of I guess you should say sirens. Those are just…

(Soundbite of noise)

Mr. BROWNLEE: …just to wake up the entire voice from top to bottom.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. YO-YO MA (Cellist): The way that when you wake up in the morning, you kind of checking how your body is, you know, whether you feel tweaky.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. YO-YO MA: Or that you're in pain or whether do you feel stiff or not. The same thing with the instrument. When I make the first sound, I always want it to be a friendly sound.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. YO-YO MA: I want to make friends with the instrument and develop.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. YO-YO MA: So I'm there to attack it and say, go with top speed. You know, you're not gunning the motor; you're trying to just ease it in and feel the lay of the land, because you're about to enter into some kind of partnership.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: What it takes for a musician to get warmed up? We heard the words and sounds of old time singer Abigail Washburn; concert pianist Lang Lang; Brazilian jazz master Flora Purim; mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli; Tuvan rocker Albert Kuvezin; Singer/songwriters Gillian Welch and Dar Williams; Bel canto tenor Lawrence Brownlee; and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Our montage was produced by David Schulman. You can find the list on our Web site along with other stories from the series Musicians in their Own Words. It's at npr.org.

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