A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…
I remember voice lessons when I was twelve years old. Well, I remember staring out the window of my teacher's living room as I sang vocal exercises on auto-pilot. I could sing most exercises accurately while pondering what I would have for dinner and when I would be able to call my best friend Tina.
Vocal warm-ups and technical exercises are standard practice in the voice studio; however, they may be mindless time wasters without some mindful tweaks and play-based learning. (I said what I said.) So here are some tips to level up the start of any lesson.
1. Redefine What a "Warm-Up" Is
Fun fact: A warm-up exercise is ANY ACTIVITY that gets students excited and ready to learn. It could be a vocalization exercise, but any activity - movement, tongue twisters, solfege games, song studies, drawing gigantic treble clefs in the air, camp songs, any favourite song - anything the student would be interested in exploring can be the intro to a great lesson. qa w~Do you know what activities or songs make your students light up and smile? Keep some notes about each individual and allow them to enjoy!
When you are moving, you are learning. Bring the student back into the room by incorporating movement into the vocalizations. Students of all ages can:
3. Use Props
Find those props! Straws, stretchy bands, Hoberman spheres, balls, ribbons, balloons - the list is endless. Hands-on materials are game changers and immediately level up engagement and lesson pacing.
4. Vocal Exploration Activities
Any vocalization activity that allows singers to sing WITHOUT CORRECTION (capitals because I MEAN IT!) will inspire more confident, enjoyable singing. Vocal Exploration can be creative and exciting for young singers - It is also essential for our older singers! Try the following:
My favourite comment when singers explore is - " I wonder what would happen if..." and then asking them to try something new.
5. Use Songs as the Warm-Up
Starting the lesson with a favourite song can bring energy and engagement immediately. You can use a well-rehearsed song as your technical study focusing on specific vocal outcomes with more attention than simply using melodic phrases. Short songs like camp songs, rounds, canons, or first-song adventures are perfect warm-up songs. Bonus marks if you let them sing unaccompanied. (They CAN sing without you plunking out the notes on the piano! Unaccompanied exercises are important for singers to develop pitch accuracy.)
Most importantly, let your students sing exercises or activities multiple times before interrupting them with instruction. Most times, the improvements will come within a few repetitions.
Inspired teaching and Happy Singing to all!
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