Warm ups provide us with an opportunity to improve the vocal technique of our singers and to prepare them for rehearsal. Within these broad categories, are ways for choral educators to develop a healthy vocal foundation, provide a consistent well-rounded approach, and connect with their students in the process of music-making. While there are subcategories that each warm up may fall into, below is a guide for which each warm up generally fits.
- Engagement and Focus – Begin your rehearsal by bringing in students’ focus from outside the rehearsal space. This is a chance to promote attention to the conductor and development of gestural intent. How do you start the rehearsal?
- Alignment and Breath Management – Our body is our instrument, so we release tension and align ourselves before we sing. The breath is an integral component to begin any phrase, so we should always practice managing our breath early on in our warm up routine.
- Light Phonation – The first phonation of the rehearsal should be light to “reintroduce” the vocal folds to themselves. Avoid putting too much pressure on the voice, too soon.
- Diction – Articulating assists with accurate placement of consonants, vowels, and provides constant breath support. Find exercises that activate the lips, teeth, tongue, and jaw.
- Vowel Unification – A key to any in-tune choral sound is unifying the vowels of the vocalists. Depending on the genre or language, there is flexibility within the vocal track to master blend. How do you convey vowel unification?
- Range Extensions – As educators, we want students to fully explore the possibilities of their voice. Extensions help students expand the highest and lowest parts of the range.
- Choral Tuning – To achieve a well-balanced sound, students must listen to each other while singing multiple parts. Tuning heightens the sensitivity of the ensemble and strengthens the relational bond between the singers.
*To enhance each warm up, consider a mental image and kinesthetic movement to assist the singers in their overall understanding and application.