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What are some of your favorite warm ups?

I always struggle at the beginning of rehearsal to get the energy going. What are some of your favorite warm ups to really get things moving, but are also effective in warming up the voice? Does anybody know of any warm-ups that also focus on rhythms and such?
Replies (6): Threaded | Chronological
on April 23, 2014 2:50am
Hi Aria,
I do a kind of an opposite thing to get "the energy going", and that is five minutes of simple, slow Qi Gong exercises.
I have tried this with all kinds of choirs of all sizes and adult ages (not with children / teenagers, though), and I have not experienced a single group, that is not focused in a calm concentration after 60 seconds.
When I afterwards start the vocal warm up, everybody is aware of the group and the room, is concentrated in the mind and has started to build a connection to his/her body - perfect to start singing and working with the voice together.
I feel these five minutes worth to invest and take from my precious rehearsal time.
By the way, I close the door when I start warm up, putting up a note that people who are late have to wait for the warm-up to finish to join the rehearsal. Not to punish these people (I always assume, they have an urgent reason to be late... :-) ), but to create a protected space for the warm up that is not disturbed.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 23, 2014 6:22am
I teach middle school, so from one day to the next, I can have students who are absolutely dead to the world, or they can be so wired I have to calm them in the way Jan described above.  
Warm up exercises need to be purposeful.
To increase energy, we do physical things (massage/back chopping, for example).  
To calm them and to practice focus, I do deliberate breathing exercises during which my cues are unpredictable, and they have to follow them...inhaling and exhaling on cue.
Here is a sample video of some ideas for focus.
I a solfege exercise that I call "follow the hand".  This is great for focus.  I give them "DO".  They have to follow my hand and sing what I sign.  I randomly go up and down the scale.  With advanced groups, I do skips and "follow the hand" in two parts.
Here is a full lesson that I use to help my students watch me better:
For rhythm exercises, I use this Rollo Dilworth book.  Fantastic exercises in here!
Hope that helps!
Dale Duncan
My full Middle School Sight Singing Program is available-Includes video teaching examples, video teaching tips, Rhythm exercises, Sight Singing examples:
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 23, 2014 6:48am
After a quick stretch, I focus on getting the breath going. Depending on the day, I have my choristers do one or more of the following:
  • monitered deep, diaphramatic breath in (first 4 beats, then 2, 1, and-of-4), extended unvoiced lip trill out: first 4 beats, then 8, then 12, etc. until we hit the limit
  • short rhythmic patterns using 's' and 'sh', call and response. (e.g., ta ta ti-ti ta ... ti-ti ti-ti ta ta ...)
  • pant like dogs: mid-sized dogs (normal and focused), big dogs (or St. Bernards) (deep, measured breaths), then little dogs (Chihuahuas) (quick shallow breaths) I tell my little ones to show me their doggy eyes when they do these: normal, sad and droopy, wide open and eager -- they love it!
Conect breath to voice:
  • pitched lip trills
  • "Ha ha ha" (middle-ranged chest voice), "ho ho ho" (deep belly laugh a la Santa Claus), "hoo hoo hoo" like tiny owls
Then vowel stuff, range stuff, etc. All ages seem to respond well to "ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, hoo-hoo-hoo" and the dog pant.
When I am organized, my warm-ups anticipate the repertoire I plan to rehearse: flexibility if we are singing something melismatic, messa di voces if we are singing something Romantic, etc. 
One of my favorites, not a "get things moving" but great for vowels and blend is "Ni-ne-nan-no-nu" starting on 5-m6-5-#4-5-4-m3-2-1 (half-steps and minor mode), one syllable per pitch until you get to "nu" on the last five pitches. Unison a couple of times, then have different sections freeze on the 5th or minor 3rd on the way down to form a minor triad. Up or down by half-steps with each exercise. My kids seem to love this one just because it's different from unison major 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 stuff.
Some random ramblings as I prepare to teach my first class. Hope there's at least one useful idea to try.
I will enjoy following this thread -- I am ALWAYS looking for new, fun warm-ups as I work with 10-year-olds up through playful adults.
-- Tim
P.S. Are you aware of the Dr. Suess A B C warm-ups by Karle J. Erikson, pub. Hinshaw? I often use "Many mumbling mice ...," even with my adults. Unison, or as a canon by voice part.
on April 24, 2014 3:51am
This is one of my favorites and works for kids, experienced choristers, beginners, seniors and singers with disabilities.   I hope I can explain it - I've only ever demonstrated it, not attempted to put into words.
Sing each note ascending up an octave at a fairly fast tempo, either as doh re mi fa so la ti doh or one two three four five six seven eight, and then descend.  
Repeat, only this time replace mi with a clap:  Doh re [CLAP] fa so la ti doh ti la so fa [CLAP] re doh.   (Don't sing mi as well, only clap).
Repeat again, and this time replace la with a foot stomp: Doh re [CLAP] fa so [STOMP] ti doh ti [STOMP] so fa [CLAP] re do.
There's lots of room for your own creativity and variations.  Sing it in thirds,  add different actions..
This warm up usually produces lots of laughter as singers realise the challenge that it is, and in my experience it once humbled a rowdy class of 14 year old boys who presumed, wrongly, that it would be a cinch.  
on April 28, 2014 11:16am
Hi, Aria -
Kirby Shaw here. In my 50+ years of choral experience, a lot of choral warmups tend to be boring. For the  large multi-generational community choir I direct here in Ashland, Oregon, I've found that my Warmups for Pop, Jazz and Show Choirs (Hal Leonard #08201243..ShowTrax CD #08201244) go a long way towards solving this problem.
Good luck!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 28, 2014 2:25pm
I second Kirby's suggestion of WARMUPS FOR POP, JAZZ AND SHOW CHOIRS. We put these warmups to very good use with our Show Choirs, even putting choreography to them. That way, we got a two for one warmup benifit.
We also used THE VOCAL COACH ULTIMATE CHOIR WARM-UP, VOL 1 & 2. These can be ordered through .
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