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.
This is such a fun exercise! It’s great to use with soloists and choirs of all ages. It promotes a light, focused sound. Here it is:
IPA: [ti-e, ti-a, ti-o]
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: Tee-ay, Tee-ah, Tee-oh
Note pattern(s): 58, 58, 58531
Solfege: sol do, sol do, so do sol mi do
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
Start in the key of F and repeat up to the key of D.
WHEN DO I USE THIS?
- Use this when you are going to work on light or fast repertoire.
- You could also use this exercise to help your singer(s) have more energy in general (i.e. they seem tired)
- If your singer(s) are struggling to have breath and/or vocal energy in the mid-range through the upper-passaggio or if they need to sing energetically at a softer dynamic.
- You can use this to help the formation of the [e], [a] and [o] vowels
- This is a great choral exercise. Men and women can sing in unison octaves.
- Be mindful what repertoire you sing after this exercise as it promotes a light sound.
- Be careful not to ‘chew’ the [e] at the end of the first word.
- Be careful not to close the [o] to a [w] at the end of the vowel. Think of keeping the lips relaxed.
- The last [o]’s can be accented.
- Ideally, the [o]’s would have a balanced onset as performed in the audio sample above. If your singer(s) is leaning towards a hard or glottal onset, you may have to have them soften it with a baby [h].
- Try having your singer sing with different dynamics each time.
- Make sure a deep, quiet breath is taken between repetitions.