5 great festive warm-ups and activities for your choir - Total Choir Resources

5 great festive warm-ups and activities for your choir

As Christmas approaches you may, like me, have noticed an extra buzz in rehearsals. Christmas repertoire seems to bring out the seasonal cheer in singers. While you prepare your repertoire for December performances, why not also include some festive warm-up ups and activities in your rehearsals. Here are five fun ideas:

Ho, ho, ho

There are endless possibilities for this jolly Santa-style greeting in your warm-ups. You could try some simple scales singing a long continuous ‘ho’. Or you could practise quick sip-breaths with a ‘ho, ho, ho’ patttern, working up or down the scale. You could split the choir into three sections and, building a chord, ask them to sing ‘ho’ on the first, third and fifths notes of the scale in lovely harmony.

Christmas improvisation

This is a great teambuilding exercise guaranteed to bring some festive cheer. Split the choir into groups (3 to 5 groups depending on the size of the choir). Give them a theme such as Christmas decorations or dinner. Then ask each group to quickly come up with a riff or line they can repeat, based around the theme, in a four-beat pattern. Once everyone has some ideas (I recommend limiting thinking time to a couple of minutes) start the choir singing bringing them in one group at a time and hey presto you will have your Christmas improvisation. You may need to assist making sure the timing and rhythms are working together. This is a great ear training exercise and lots of fun.

Outdoor preparations

If your choir will be performing some of their Christmas repertoire outdoors at a festive gathering, have some fun recreating this at your rehearsal. I’m not suggesting standing in the freezing cold when you have a lovely warm rehearsal room, but rather creating an outdoor atmosphere with some fairy lights. This is also a cunning way to get your choir singing without their lyric sheets if this is how you usually perform, as they won’t be able to see them! Put up some strings of lights, then turn the main lights off and sing through your set. There’s nothing like pretty fairy lights to get everyone feeling festive.

Get mixing

If you’re performing at various events over Christmas both indoors and out, chances are that it won’t be that easy to ensure your choir are all standing in their sections. Getting them used to standing mixed up in rehearsal is an excellent way to ensure this doesn’t throw them at a performance. It’s also a great way for singers to greet different faces and hear different singers around them. Try mixing up two or three times during a rehearsal so that people are in a range of different places.

Cake break

On your final rehearsal before the holidays why not have a charity cake sale during your break and ask keen bakers in the choir to bring along festive treats which people can give a small donation for. This is a great way for everyone to bond and enjoy special treats at the end of a busy choir year as well as raise money for a favourite charity.

Christine Mulgrew

Christine Mulgrew

Christine is a contemporary choir leader who loves to help novice and nervous singers find their voice.

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marianne skovsgård nielsen - 6 months ago Reply

Hello Christine
I wonder if you are able to help? I live in Iceland and I am looking for a novice conducting choir course of maybe 1-week or more duration as it will not be possible for me to meet once a week or month.
I am singing in a choir and wants to start a choir in our Danish community here in Reykjavik. I have been leading comune singing but am otherwise a total novice. I play some piano but not on a high level.
I feel, though, your material on your website will be very useful.

    Victoria Hopkins - 6 months ago Reply

    Hi Marianne. Welcome to Total Choir Resources. We’re so glad you like the website. Have you had a look at our Basic Conducting Technique course? It might be just what you’re looking for because it’s all online. We also have courses in rehearsal technique and planning and several other topics. You can find out more here: https://www.totalchoirresources.com/store/onlinecourses/

    Best of luck with your choir.

vivien connell - 7 months ago Reply

Thank you for this. I love your ideas! We brought some percussion into the xmas dinner chants as well – teaspoons on tin mugs. Nice and crazy.

    Christine Mulgrew
    Christine Mulgrew - 7 months ago Reply

    Hee hee, love it! Thanks for sharing this Vivian, sounds like you had lots of fun.

Peggy BeVille - 7 months ago Reply

We are having a choir holiday party tomorrow night and I was looking for activities. The ho ho ho and Christmas improvisation will be perfect. I should have remembered my Orff-Schulwerk days. Thanks.

    Victoria Hopkins - 7 months ago Reply

    We hope your choir enjoys the party Peggy.

Brenda Adams - 7 months ago Reply

We did Ho ho ho and my choir loved it. We added he he he, ha ha ha etc too.

    Victoria Hopkins - 7 months ago Reply

    Glad to hear it Brenda.

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