Simple Singing Warm-ups
by Christina Stewart
A warm-up signals the start of the singing session and encourages all the participants to focus on the activities.
Physical and vocal warm-ups help get the body ready to sing and as they get older, warm-ups become more important for children’s voice production.
The aims of a warm-up are to release tension, to improve circulation, to enhance breath control and breath capacity and to prepare the voice so that the voice is protected, and the quality of singing is improved. Warm-ups should include physical, facial, breathing and vocal elements.
Here are some suggestions to get you started. Feel free to incorporate themed suggestions and basic suggestions to suit your participants and to lead into different songs.
Basic warm-up suggestions:
Release tension by stretching and releasing body parts, beginning with head.
· Tip head over to one side as though trying to rest ear on shoulder, move slowly to other side, repeat several times.
· Gently drop chin so that head tips forward, then slide chin round to one side so that you are looking over one shoulder. Look up towards ceiling, then back to look over shoulder and return to start position, repeat to other side and then repeat sequence several times.
· Stretch arms up, first one at a time, then both together. Stretch up as though reaching to a high shelf, then spread out fingers. Bring hands down and shake.
· Roll shoulders back, then forwards and then one in each direction.
· Swing hips side to side, knees slightly bent, then in a circular motion, then in a figure of eight. · Raise one leg slightly, circle foot in one direction, then the other. Repeat with other leg. Shake out legs one at a time.
· Using knuckles, massage cheeks, moving along cheekbone towards ears, down and along jaw and back, repeat
· Scrunch up face, screwing up eyes, cheeks and pursing mouth, then stretch out opening eyes and mouth wide and repeat several times
· Smile broadly then frown and change from one to the other several times · Imagine chewing a large ball of chewing gum, about the size of a tennis ball, moving it around your mouth, keeping lips closed
· Imitate the buzz of the engine of a small moped then change to the slower, deeper buzz of a large Harley Davidson. Repeat.
Breathing & vocal warm-up
· Envisage breathing in to fill first your stomach, then your lungs, then your throat. Try this a couple of times, then breathe in over a count of 8, hold for 2, then release in a controlled way over a count of 8
· As you breathe in, raise arms over head. As you breathe out, bring arms down and continue towards floor, bending in the middle until arms dangle towards floor. Hang there for 4 long breaths, feeling how the air seems to fill out the back of your ribcage. Come up, breathing in and straightening up from the base of the spine so that the last part to straighten up is your head.
· In a circle, turn clockwise so that each participant is facing the next participant’s back. Using the edge of both hands, pummel the back of the person in front of you, moving side to side.
· Repeat the first suggestion, vocalising “aaah” as you breathe out for 8. Repeat 4 times, then try loud and soft variations.
· Repeat with another sound, such as “oooh”, “oooo”, “aaaw”. · Sing through one of the songs with a simple melody, using only the vowels.
Themed warm-up suggestions:
Begin by saying “hullo” to your own body using your hands. Ask the participants to copy. Say “hullo” to your hands by rubbing them together, to your hair by rubbing your hands over it, your ears by rubbing them with your fingers and so on over different parts of the body until you reach your toes. Concentrate on the face, massaging the cheeks with your knuckles, stroking your forehead with your fingertips, drawing down the jaw gently, sliding the fingers down from the cheekbones to the jaw (gently stretching the mouth open) then back up to the cheekbones.
After establishing the principle, repeat, adding vocalisations, like “oooh” while you massage cheeks, “aaaw” while you draw down jaw, “eee” while you tickle toes. When you reach “aaah” while you rub tummy, ensure that participants are sitting or standing upright and focus on the feeling of filling the tummy with air when breathing in.
Slowly stretch one arm up and the other arm down, stretch out fingers and change arms. Repeat three or four times. Add vocalisation as “aaah” rising and falling in volume. Ensure that participants are sitting or standing upright and there is plenty of room for lungs to fill. Stretch both arms up together and stretch out fingers, then bring arms to sides in a large circle. Repeat three or four times.
Add vocalisation in deep yawn. Stretch out arms low in front and flick out fingers to imitate stars and bring outstretched arms up, slowly like stars rising in the night sky, then slowly down to start position. Add vocalisation as “aaaw” rising and falling in volume. Draw back lips to show teeth and stretch mouth from side to side as if brushing teeth. Add vocalisation while exercising lips.
Curl up like a bear hibernating. Slowly uncurl, gradually waking up and stretching. When standing, shake head first as if to shake off snow and leaves, then one hand at a time, one arm at a time and then one leg at a time, finishing with all over shake. Brush down your body all over with your hands as if removing every flake of snow and leaf from your fur. Open mouth, stretching wide to both sides like a shark and make biting action, purse lips and move far to one side then the other like a flatfish. Turn down corners of the mouth as far as possible imitating a monkfish and open and close mouth, purse lips and hold that position while making a “kissing” action like a goldfish.
Imitate gentle animal noises along with actions, starting with squeaking like a mouse, then purr and mewing like a cat, hooting like an owl, whining and panting like a dog (not barking!), neighing and blowing through lips like a horse. Finish with chewing (lips closed!) like a camel, moving jaw from side to side while chewing.
In a circle, place palms together as in prayer and push hands up while breathing in. Stretch both arms up and wiggle fingers like candles on a cake. Leader goes around and blow and “flame” on each candle, one at a time and they drop arms. Repeat with other members of group blowing out candles. Flop down like an un-inflated balloon. Gradually in big breaths, with exaggerated movements, inhaling and holding breath on each one. Rise from the floor until standing up on tip toes with arms making round shape imitating inflated balloon, then “let go” the balloon and exhale with lips buzzing and collapse back down.
Imitate eating cake, stretch mouth wide and then close and chew with lips closed. Ask participants to either make an exaggerated smiling happy face or frowning sad face depending on what is in each parcel and mime opening a parcel.
Call out the present they find inside – “smelly socks!”, “iPod!”, “slime!”, Now that’s What I call Music CD!” etc.