Recently, I had the honor of warming up the All-Southwest Honor Choir for my mentor and college choir director, Dr. Gregory Fuller. Some teachers and students indicated that they enjoyed the warm up exercises I used, so I am posting them here over the course of a few posts.
My warm-up routine has several purposes:
- Physically engage the vocal mechanisms- larynx, diaphragm, intercostals, etc.
- Reinforce proper tonal placement and vowel shape
- Focus the individual singer mentally
- Build the choir's sense of ensemble
In addition to these goals, I can't waste time. Every second counts. If I can accomplish multiple goals in each warm up exercise, even better.
This warmup is great place to start. It has a three note range, improves unison tuning, and develops proper vowel placement. I choose different vowels on different days based on the literature I'm teaching.
The Placement Helper (1,2)
I often find that as I teach private voice lessons, brighter vowels like "Eee" are much easier for singers to place in a forward position with a raised soft palate. By combining a bright vowel with a closed mouth shape, the focus turns to the onset of the vowel each time. The end of the warmup exercise attempt is designed to transfer the placement of the brighter vowel to the darker one.
The Lip/Tongue Trill (1)
When warming up quickly in a small amount of time is necessary, I use this one. Slide up a perfect 5th and back down on a lip trill or (more advanced) tongue trill. Another benefit of this exercise is that it is not easy to do without substantial breath support. I'll often reinforce that support by having singers pretend like they are pulling a string out of their bellybutton, breathing in through a straw, or both in between trills.
These are just some of the exercises I employ for the first couple of minutes of the warm up routine. In my next post, I'll address range extension and ensemble building.