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Warm-ups: Basics

Hello Listers,

Here is the very short compilation of creative warm ups. Thanks to those
who responded. I did go purchase the Choral Warmup book (from Musical
Resources in Toledo). I know there are more creative warm ups, especially
physical ones out there, but perhaps they're proprietary secrets! Thanks
for the help!

Brian Clissold, Music Director
Battle Creek Girls' Chorus
Battle Creek Community Chorus

You might already be aware of it, but there is a book called "Teaching
Kids To Sing" by Ken Phillips that has many warm ups for singers.
I also particularly like a book of tongue twisters called "Singing Tongue
Twisters A-Z "

For girls to rid the "hootiness" in the high register,
have them sing like the "Chipmunks." Helps open
palate and bring into the mask.

1 121 12321 1234321 123454321 12345654321 1234567654321 123456787654321
88 878 87678 8765678 876545678 876543456768 8765432345678 876543212345678

You work up to speed on this and eventually do it in a round, the more
parts the better. You can also use solfege with hand signs, for a
further challenge.

I just ordered and received James Jordan's book, Evoking Sound THE
CHORAL WARM-UP - Method, Procedures, Planning, and Core Vocal
Exercises. The kinesthetic approach is very important in his
teaching -- I see a lot of exercises that I want to use with my


1. Extend arms above head; consciously become aware of and feel the
extra extension and new elevated upper-body / ribs position.

2. Take a breath over 8 [or other number] of beats "sipping through a
straw." while lowering arms, then hiss out. Maintain "upward" feeling in
body; don't collapse; feel "up." Feel the balance between resistance and
breath pressure.

3. Shake head R to L; shake hands.

[next is hard to describe in words; however, it's great for alignment and
energizing the whole body]

4. Sequence:
a. Inhale "into the pelvis" and "roll down" from the neck.
Imaging "furling a flag."
b.Continue inhalation into the tailbone; it rises as body "furls" down,
creating a stretch, tail to crown.
c. Exhale and allow spine to stretch from tail to crown, with the energy
of gravity.
d. When ready (individual), inhale into the tailbone again, and "unfurl"
from base of spine to crown.
e. Continue rising, and allow arms to extend to "the ceiling" and repeat
sip and hiss exercise above.

Above brings mind to focus on body and breath, and is good prep. for any

One favorite physical warm-up that I have used to help perk kids up and
get them moving is affectionately nicknamed “the shake-outs”. J You
shake out left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot a certain number
of times and keep counting down until you get to one. So you do 8 left
hand shakes, 8 right hand shakes, 8 left foot shakes, 8 right foot
shakes, 7 left hand shakes, 7 right hand shakes…etc. until you get to 1
left hand shake, 1 right hand shake, 1 left foot shake, and 1 right foot
shake (they end up jumping around at the end). This has always worked to
perk up a group of listless singers who need an extra burst of energy!

on April 24, 2008 10:00pm
I have another original warm up to add. It involves the days of the week. Starting on Monday have the singers elongate the 'M' so that they are humming before completing the word. This should be done on a major scale all the way to the top. Repeat the top note and come all the way back down. One semitone up. This time we use Tuesday. Irish choirs have a real problem here. They tend to say "chewsday". "Tuesday" helps remind them of the hard 'T' as well as the dipthong that follows. One semitone up. Yes you've guessed it - Wednesday (getting faster). This exercises the lips and face. One semitone up. Thursday works on the "th" as well as offering the opportunity to sing a bright "u" vowel. One semitone up, getting faster. Friday works on the "f" consonant which can be a real bug bear. One semitone up Saturday is performed at different speeds in order to work on articulation. Sunday again requires a bright first vowel sound in order to to go flat. Now comes the fun bit. Having increased the speed as you go through the days of the week you now sing each succeeding day on each succeeding note in the scale - 7 pitches and 7 days. Make sure to repeat "Monday" at the top of the scale before coming back down singing the days of the week in reverse order. This always breaks into laughter until the choir gets used to it. Because of this I tend to reserve this warm up for before performances as it invariable breaks the tension and gets people in the mood to enjoy themselves.
on December 6, 2008 10:00pm
These are great! Thanks! I needed some new ones. I especially like the days of the week one!
on March 11, 2009 10:00pm
Thank you very much for the advice Brian! I am a first time chior leader and those warm-ups will shure help me! Thanks again! May God Bless You!