Freshen up your choir warm-ups

Coming up with ideas for choir warm-ups week after week can be something of a challenge. You want your choir to develop their singing skills, and repetition is a necessary part of that, but if you find your singers doing warm-ups before you've even instructed them too, maybe things are getting a little predictable!

So how can you ensure your warm-up sessions are varied and interesting for your choir without spending hours each week coming up with new ideas? Here are some top tips for a little warm-up spring clean.

Create an archive

Its worth taking the time to record all the warm-ups you know and like on one document or in one audio track or folder. You might think you'll remember ideas and exercises, but it's very difficult to hold all these things in your head and recall them when you need to, particularly as you build up your library. If you have a central 'pool' of warm-ups, you can refer to it when planning your rehearsals and see all the options available to you. You may find it helpful to make notes next to the entries - what does the exercise help with? How is it best organised? Are there any fun variations? Once you have your list you can also look through it and see if you can come up with fresh variations or new ideas which you can note down and use at a later date.

Try the pick 'n' mix method

Take a look at the warm-ups you use. What do they help your singers with? It might be breath support, relaxation, working on the range or team-building. It may be a mixture of several things.

By putting the warm-ups you have in similar categories, you can ensure that your rehearsal plan covers all the important aspects of readying the voice to sing, as well as physically warming up and bringing the choir together to work as a team. You will also ensure variety for your choir. If you arrange your main list in this way, you have a host of options and you can pick something from each section, varying the line-up on a weekly basis.

Take your choir by surprise

The simple act of changing the first thing you do in a rehearsal can really freshen things up and get your choir's attention. If you always start with shoulder rolls and gentle stretching, why not instead ask everyone to sing a silly song and add actions. Or perhaps get everyone to massage their cheeks and blow a big raspberry! Anything that gets their attention, livens things up and helps them focus and get ready to sing.

Let them in on the secret

If there are exercises you want to work on with your choir that you think will really help them improve the repertoire they're rehearsing, mention that. Relating the warm-ups to your repertoire can be really helpful and tie everything together, particularly if you have members who don't understand the point of warm-up exercises. Many of the keen members who really want to improve their singing skills will really appreciate this careful consideration and planning of exercises and get more out of them.

Put yourself in their shoes

As choir leaders, we naturally see rehearsals and warm-ups from our point of view. Try to take a moment to think about them from a choir member's perspective. What would you find enjoyable and interesting? What would be a good challenge to develop your skills? What would make you feel inspired and very glad you left the comfort of your home for the evening? If you take this into account and have a good range of warm-ups at your disposal you'll be sure to get your rehearsals off to a flying start.
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