warm ups

Just like any instrument, a singer needs to take care of the voice, this includes good and efficient vocal warm-ups.

When it comes to music education, most teachers will make use of their students’ voice, so singing is an important part of learning music, even if being a professional singer is not your students’ main focus.

Of course, if you are teaching how to sing, you have to take your time with warm ups, not just so they can imitate the teacher and do it well in class, but help them learn to make it part of their routine.

Why Warm-Ups Are Important

Most students just assume that everything the teacher says is ok, but there are some things that should be justified, not because they are that cuestionable but because a singer should know what every warm up is for.

There are several ways to do vocal warm ups, each for a different function, for example, some improve your breathing, help you relax and others improve your range.

Explaining what every warm up is to your students will improve the exercise and make them take it more seriously.

Monitor Warm-Ups

A teacher should be very present during these warm ups, so that he can correct them and make sure that they will do it the right way when nobody’s watching.

Many students can get very dependent on their vocal coaches and teachers when it comes to warming up their voice, and this is not ideal at all, mostly because singers also have to warm up their voice hours or even days before a performance.

Breathing

This is maybe one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of singing for beginners but it should be made very clear that it can do a lot of damage to your voice if not done properly.

It is very clear that there is a specific way your students should learn how to breath instead of just breathing as they would normally.

You can show them the importance of breathing by telling them to sing while breathing normally and then try again after teaching them how to breath with their diaphragm.

The difference will be very obvious, and of course they will want to do it after that, but as a teacher you have to check once in a while that your students are breathing properly in order to avoid

Cooling Down After Singing

This may seem strange but it’s actually very important and recommended to cool down your voice in order to avoid vocal fatigue.

However, it’s also something that it’s very easy to forget for your students, first because it’s not a common thing you hear, second because all you want to do when you stop singing is to rest and that’s it, but if you take 15 minutes to do some exercises to cool down your voice, resting will be more effective.

According to Francisca M. these are some of the best exercises to do to cool down your voice after singing.

  • The Siren Wail – move from your highest (comfortable) note on an “ahh sound,” sliding down to the octave below
  • Chords – move from your highest note down 5 steps
  • Bubble Trill – Similar to your vocal warm-up exercises, incorporate lip trills into your cool-down

Warm-ups

The most important thing to have in mind as a singing teacher when it comes to breathing and vocal warm-ups is to be constantly on the lookout for lack of warm-ups, bad breathing techniques or anything that can put strain on the voice and eventually contributing to not learning how to sing properly.

Remember, your students can only reach their full potential if they take care of their voice.

Did you know it’s easy to add vocal exercises as an assignment in your students’ lesson notes within Music Teacher’s Helper software? MTH likes to make things easy for you and your student to remember what was assigned each week and lesson notes are a great feature for this!

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By Robin Steinweg

Singing group of girls   When that waiting list grows out of proportion, how do you multiply your time? With group lessons!

Part I: Vocal Group Lessons

To multiply my time this summer, I’m conducting two 8-week group classes. I’ll write about the other (a group guitar class) next month.

Normally I’d advertise. But due to circumstances, I emailed  my present students and posted a note on facebook. Word-of-mouth proved sufficient, and I have enough students for a pleasant group.

A great thing about group lessons is that I can charge a lower tuition fee per student, but still earn a good deal more money per hour. Also, my time of preparation is once for all the students in the class. This tends to create more of a buzz about my studio, too.

Here’s how I’ve gone about it—you may have wonderful ideas of your own—please share them in the comments below!

*This group is for 8-12-year-old girls. Classes are 45 minutes long. If they are successful, I will try to offer a follow-up 6-8 weeks this fall.

*To help them get to know each other, I had them share birthdates, family, nicknames, pets, hobbies, musical experiences—they had fun with it. I wrote a curriculum with lots of flexibility in it until I could get to know their strengths/areas of growth.

*I found and created warm-ups. Physical movement (asked them to reach up as if for something on a high shelf that they want badly (a sugar glider, an American doll…), easy descending patterns, pulses, vowel formation, diction, ear training… done with as much humor as I can. Tongue twisters come in handy. Whining like a puppy and meowing like a cat on different pitches turned out to be surprisingly effective warm-ups!

Girls sing 3 parts

*Familiar songs in appropriate keys followed. I played just the melody and listened for who can match pitches and how much confidence they might have, and I began to get clues as to their vocal ranges. From this I can plan the rest of the group lessons.

*Rounds—I had nearly forgotten the benefits of learning to sing rounds! For beginning singers, not an easy feat. Some benefits: Social—you know how kids often walk together or sit together, but are in their own worlds with their phones, texting or playing games? Rounds are a bit like that. The kids are standing in close proximity, but each concentrating on their own thing—separately but together! If you have enough students, they can divide into groups or even just two on a part. Singing rounds requires much concentration, and tuning out the other parts while focusing on their own. Ear training—singing a melody and singing harmony.

Maria von Trapp (Sound of Music—the real woman, not Julie Andrews) said that singing rounds teaches you “to mind your own business.”

Surplus benefit: since rounds are based on mathematical relationships, students are learning math concepts while singing.

You can find some CDs of rounds here: http://fun-books.com/books/lester_family_music.htm

Here’s another source for rounds: http://roundz.tripod.com/

I’ve been using The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing, by Margaret Read MacDonald and Winifred Jaeger (80 songs).

Round Book the

*In addition to rounds, I included a couple of very funny (and obscure) songs to keep them laughing. And I remind them that laughing is great for feeling where the support happens. Talk about pulses!

*Real energy occurred when I asked the girls which musicals they would love to sing something from. As each girl mentioned a musical, the others exclaimed how they love that one too. Contagious. I promised them at least one piece they all love. They can hardly wait for the next group lesson. Win!

Even though the group represents abilities from not being able to match pitches to start with, all the way to one girl who does so unconsciously and has sung in public for years, they are working together, being challenged to progress, learning note-reading, intervals, solfege, blending, listening, focusing, and cooperating. In just a few weeks their improvement has impressed me.

This is the first time I’ve taught more than one vocal student at once. I’m liking the way I can multiply my time with group lessons!

singing children

I’ll share about the mixed-gender-mixed-age group guitar class on July 27th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Number 5, red

To help me recover from a car accident, my doctor sent me to Katie, a physical therapist. I was surprised to discover parallels between physical therapy and teaching music. I shared five of them a month ago. Find the first five teaching tips here: 5 Teaching Tips

Below are 5 More Teaching Tips Inspired by Physical Therapy.

6. Warm Up First: Cold muscles are less pliable and more prone to injury. It’s best to get the circulation going, blood and oxygen to body parts that will soon work hard. Spend a few minutes on a treadmill or bike; walk; even climb stairs.     Treadmill

Fingers, wrists and vocal cords can also be strained without warming up. Voice students can begin low-to-mid-range and gradually move higher or lower. Piano (or other instrument) students stretch fingers, play scales and arpeggios, and loosen tight shoulders. Correct posture helps.

Make it a habit. Warm up. [···]

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