Workshop with Miguel Felipe during the European Choir Games & Grand Prix of Nations 2015

How to create a fascinating warm-up

Miguel Felipe explains different methods for a warm-up, which is definitely not boring.

Choir Games

Every choral singer knows the everlasting evil of the rehearsals` beginning: the warm-up. Mostly this part of the rehearsal is not one of the fascinating moments. The Hawaiian conductor Miguel Felipe tried to work against the boredom and to animate the singers to try new methods in a workshop during the European Choir Games at the Georg Philipp Telemann Konservatorium Magdeburg.

All singers should consider some steps for a right warm-up, said Miguel:

  1. The body is the basis; feeds, legs, shoulders, necks and faces should be realized and warmed up on each rehearsal, so the singers are aware of their posture.
  2. Also the breath is essential. To breathe in and out needs to be done precisely.
  3. After that the work on the voice starts, high and depth ranges need to be warmed-up.
  4. At last sensitiveness for the intonation should be created. Thereby the attention lies on the musicality of the singers among each other.

To give some examples for an interesting warm-up, Miguel firstly remembered at mostly used und thus boring exercises. Many choral singers recognize the one or another example and really know, what Miguel is talking about.

Possibilities to create a varied warm-up are variations in dynamic, rhythm and intervals. So why not singing a Lydian instead of a diatonic major scale? Or instead of a quarter tone use some triplets? Why not skip but only imagine single tones of the scale? And what`s wrong about using funny sentences instead of well-known phrases like „Do, re, mi, fa, sol“?

What`s also important to notice for a warm-up is the age of the singers. The children`s attention holds up not as long as the adults’ does.

Also the timing is essential for the warm-up. No conductor makes himself popular with a rehearsal on Saturday morning. So the warm-up must be fresh and entertaining.
 Another example is the pre-performance: then the focus should lie on parts, which are well-known to the singers and which they are able to do in order to raise their motivation before the performance starts.

Miguels message is clear: everybody is able to create a fresh and interesting warm-up, only some creative ideas are needed to switch old exercises into a new one!