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Pick ‘n’ mix warm-ups for choirs

Victoria HopkinsTotal Choir Resources

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If you're anything like me, you sometimes get to the day of a rehearsal without much of a coherent plan. So I thought you might find it useful to have a basic toolkit of ideas for warm-ups for those occasions when you just feel totally uninspired and have no clue what you're going to do with your choir.

I like to start off with something that will wake my singers up a bit and encourage them to leave their worries and distractions at the door. I want to get them smiling and relaxed, but also feeling focused and ready to concentrate.

I've grouped the activities and exercises into physical, vocal and musical sections. You can use them in whatever way you want, but I tend to stick to that order. The physical activities relax and energise the body, the vocal exercises warm up the voice gently and safely, and the musical games help to focus the choir on intonation, ensemble and other aspects of choral singing.

1

PHYSICAL

1. Breathe in slowly through the nose. Blow out through the lips like a horse. Do the same again, but do a rolled 'r'. Finally, try both together.

2. Chew one, then two, then three imaginery pieces of gum. Swallow the gum!

3. Breathe in slowly through the nose. Sigh, louder and louder on each out-breath. Add shoulders (hunched on the in-breath, dropped on the out-breath) then kneeds (bend them on the out-breath).

4. Massage your scalp and face with your fingertips. Grin widely, stick our your tongue, then finish with a big yawn.

5. With softly-closed fists, gently 'pummel' your chest (preferably with an accompanying 'Tarzan' noise!), shoulders, tummy, thighs and anything else you can reach.

2

VOCAL

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1. Hum a major scale to the fifth, using a pattern 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5-1-4-1-3-1-2-1, and sliding between the notes. Move the starting note up or down by a semitone and repeat. 

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2. Sing an arpeggio using the pattern 1-3-5-4-2-(7)-1. Sing the pattern twice, first to a legato 'oo' then a staccato 'ah'. Move the starting note up or down by a semitone and repeat.

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3. Pick a fricative consonant such as 'v' and pulse five times on it. Start loud and get softer, or vice versa. Work through other fricative consonants: j (as is 'vision'), z, th (as in 'there'). 

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4. Sing a descending major scale to 'ninga ninga, ninga ninga, ninga ninga, ning ...' (breathing halfway through). Move the starting note up or down by a semitone and repeat. Focus on getting plenty of tone in the 'ng' sound and keeping the halfway breath quick and silent.

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5. Start on a single held note to 'ah'. Moving only your lips (not your tongue), change the vowel sound to 'oh' then 'oo', then back again. Then start on 'ah' again and, moving only your tongue, change the vowel sound to 'eh' then 'ee' then back again, so you end up with 'ah-oh-oo-oh-ah' moving only your lips, then 'ah-eh-ee-eh-ah' moving only your tongue. Focus on keeping the 'ah' space in the mouth and throat and not 'pinching' the sound when you change vowels.

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3

MUSICAL

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1. Bele Mama

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2. When I Sing

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3. Life is But a Melancholy Flower

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4. Tallis Canon

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5. By the Waters of Babylon

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      So there you are. Lots of ideas to mix and match. There's lots more great FREE stuff for choir leaders below.

      FREE CHEAT SHEET:
      10 Fun & Easy Warm-ups for your Choir

      Grab your copy of our great warm-ups cheat sheet and get inspiration for your next choir rehearsal.
      Planning fun and engaging choir rehearsals can be tough. Let us help!

       

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