If you’ve been here before you can skip these beginning paragraphs and jump to the warm-up. If it’s your first time, read on!
Every Wednesday I will share a vocal tip or warm-up. After 17 years of teaching people how to sing I have so many things to share with you every week!
As a voice teacher I am frequently approached and asked for a vocal warm-up for use in a choir or as a soloist. I LOVE warm-ups and think it’s really crucial to use them whenever you are going to sing. It’s an easy step to skip when you are practicing (because who doesn’t want to get to the fun stuff like songs?), but it can also be THE tool that takes you or your choir from average to AHHHMAZING! The trick is knowing which warm-ups you or your choir needs, when to use it and why it works.
That’s A LOT of variables! It’s also the main reason why I don’t like giving a warm-up on the fly. They are most effective when used under the correct circumstances. It’s really difficult for me to explain all these crucial elements in a short amount of time. Hence, the Vocal Wednesdays! Woo-hoo!
Great warm-ups are passed down from teachers to students or teacher to teacher. It’s a lot like story-telling in that way. Teaching voice is both an art and science. Having exercises is one thing, but knowing how to use them is a whole other matter. You will get the most out of your warm-ups if you understand what sorts of techniques or skills it teaches and then use them accordingly. My hope is that Vocal Wednesdays can help you not only find warm-ups you like, but that you learn what skill each warm-up can teach and then be able to use it at the appropriate time.
IPA: [do, do re do, do re mi re do, do re mi fa mi re do, do re mi fa sol fa mi re do, do re mi fa sol la sol fa mi re do, do re mi fa sol la ti la sol fa mi re do, do re mi fa sol la ti do ti la sol fa mi re do]
IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet and is used by singers and teachers of singers to have a standardized guide to pronunciation. For future reference, I will always put IPA in brackets [ ]. I will also include a pronunciation guide of what it sounds like in non-word syllables.
Pronunciation: doh ray mee fah sol lah tee doh
Note pattern(s): 1, 121, 12321, 1234321, 123454321, 12345654321, 1234567654321, 123456787654321
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON? C major for a group. If working with individual voices, I would start in D Major for Sopranos and Tenors, and C Major for Mezzos/Altos and Basses.
WHEN CAN I USE THIS? It can be used for any voice type, any age. When using with a group, it can also be sung as a round.
WHAT SKILL(S) DOES IT TEACH?
- 8-note scale
- When sung as a round it teaches listening skills, independent singing and tuning (pitch accuracy).
- I have found it is helpful to write the solfege on a white board or piece of paper. It’s easier to keep track of the syllables, especially if they are new to the singer.
- If you have a beginner, it may be helpful to start by only going to ‘sol’. As the student gets comfortable, add more intervals one at a time.
- If you are singing this as a round you may find it helpful to have each group in a circle facing each other to gain confidence. As they gain confidence, face forward and eventually mix with other groups. This really enforces independent singing.
- If you are singing this as a round, try adding in dynamics, different tempos and different pitch levels. Have fun with it!
Did you try this exercise? How did it go? Do you have favorite warm-ups? Please share in the comments!