Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Musical Warm Ups

It is normal to stretch before exercising.

It is normal to run through some drills prior to any sports practice or game.

It is normal to go through some sort of warm up in order to perform at one's individual peak.

So it is for the musician.


Anyone who has played in a band, a choir, or an orchestra has been led in warm ups by the conductor.

I remember finding these warm ups quite tedious.

Boring even.

I mean, really, how many ways can the Bb major scale be played?

Whole notes.
Quarter notes.
Four eighth notes.
In canon.

And on how many syllables can doh-mi-sol be sung?

I recall being highly amused by the silly song my choir teacher would have us sing:

        mah, may, mee, moh, mooooooo

Yup, I thought it was a song.
I did think we were preparing it for a concert.
Silly me!


One former student's warm up routine was quite impressive.

So impressive that I still use her as an example to current students.

She would come to the practice room each morning at 8am and warm up for about 10-12 minutes then head to her first class.

I might mention, her first class was often not a music class, but one in another building.

Despite this she found it important to start her day with warming up her voice.

This care of her instrument - her voice - proved to be valuable as she succeeded in her performances.


Have you ever had trouble singing in church on Sunday morning?

There is a good chance it is because you have not properly warmed up your voice before singing.

Next time, just sing a little bit (something soothing, nothing harsh) in the car on the way to church.

You should notice a difference.


My choral warm up routine is fairly intensive, but it is also intended to prep my singers for what they will encounter during rehearsal.

In addition to vocal warm ups gleaned from the music (intervals, harmonies, etc.) I have my students sing canons, sight read using solfege, perform rhythmic exercises.

This morning I started my day by singing my way through the Circle of Fifths.

To my knowledge I had not done this before, but I was inspired to create some warm ups for my files.

My choral groups can look forward to some new warm ups now. :)


Now I am that choir director who puts her singers through those tedious, silly warm ups.

Now I know what MY directors were up to.

I'm hopeful my music students will understand the importance of warm ups as they prepare their music now and their students in the future.

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