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: [θo- a]
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.
Note pattern(s): 5678987654321, 1358531
Solfege: sol la ti do re do ti la sol fa mi re do, do mi sol do sol mi do
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
For Sopranos or Tenors, start in D Major, starting note is A. For Mezzos and Basses, start in the key of C Major, starting note is G.
WHAT SKILL(S) DOES IT TEACH?
- It’s a great way to change up the traditional 9-note scale.
- It teaches an arpeggio.
- It trains flexibility and the ability to switch from conjunct note patterns to disjunct note patterns.
- it can train the tongue to come forward (see comments in ‘tips’)
- It’s tricky starting a scale on ‘sol’, ascending and then descending all the way back down to ‘do’. It may take some time before your singer catches on to the new pattern. Be patient. Try having them hum the first note every time you switch keys.
- Beginners absolutely should take a breath between scale and arpeggio. More advanced singers or if you are looking for a challenge, take it out.
- Have your singer pick up an imaginary ball or frisbee and throw it while singing the [θo] portion of the exercise. It’s a great way to engage the whole body!
- Some singers say [fo] instead of [θo] – there is nothing wrong with that just know that the tongue will come forward on [θo]. This may be helpful if your singer tends to swallow their tongue or depress their tongue. Learning to bring the tongue forward is also beneficial for sopranos singing in the ‘whistle’ register (notes above High C).