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What's Your Favorite Warm-Up?

I casually asked my students this question in every class one day last week. It prompted an interesting discussion, and some meaningful insight for me.

I allowed this to be pretty open-ended. The only thing I asked them to do was tell me why they liked whatever exercise, song, or activity they shared with me. So, you'll see that I have more answers from my eighth graders. They were all about sharing!

I've created a Venn diagram to provide you with a visual of the results that I got back from my students. Check it out below:

Class Discussion

All of my classes said that they liked these because they're fun. Also, it was really interesting to hear the kids talk about rounds and part-songs. One of their favorite rounds is “Jubilate Deo.” When I asked them why, you could see their faces light up thinking about it, and they would respond with something like, “ it just sounds so cool.”

Rounds and easy part songs are approachable, and students can find success easily by spending just a small amount of time on them.


Here are the top 3 reasons why they like these specific warm-ups

  1.  It's fun

  2.  It sounds cool

  3. Gets me up and moving

(Their descriptions are in-depth and astounding, I know!)

What I Learned

1. While I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all of my students enjoy activities that involve motion (even my 8th graders!), 6th graders appeared to enjoy it the most.

2. 8th graders like warm-ups with motion, but not while sitting. They like getting up and walking or moving around, as opposed to sitting in their seat and moving their arms.


3. Songs and games are better. Almost all of my classes said they didn’t really like singing vowel based warm-ups as much as rounds or part songs, because they thought they were boring. I'm not saying I'm going to do away with vowel warm-ups, but it's definitely good to make sure I don't do purely vowel and syllabic exercises.

4. I was not expecting their enthusiasm for rounds. At all.  They said it didn't really matter which rounds we sang as long as we did them. They LOVE rounds. Again, like I said earlier, rounds get them singing in parts quickly and they experience success. Also, it sounds cool. They made sure I understood that they sound cool.

Do rounds with your kids, guys.

5. I was also surprised that they wanted to get up and move around. After sitting still in desks for other classes the remaining six hours of the day, it's a nice change for them to get up and move. I've always personally thought this, but I didn't realize THEY actually felt that way, too.

Warm- up examples

You probably don't understand what all of the warm-ups actually are that I've listed in my diagram, so here are some demos!

Pass the Beat

This is a super quick demo. If I don't have much time, I will play pass the beat with them in their seats as shown. When we have more time, I have them form a big circle around the room. It's a little hard to tell, but they are snaking back and forth through all three rows.

I've found that teaching the concepts of this activity is easier when you start out this way, then move to the circle. Once students can keep the beat pretty well, you can add a signal that tells them to reverse the order. You can also speed up/slow down the tempo.

BONUS- you can make this an elimination game! My students like it best as an elimination round.

Shake down

Quick and simple body warm-up. At the end of the clip, you can see how I begin to teach another exercise called "Cookie Do."

Cookie Do

This exercise also works as a round. In this particular instance, my focus was articulation and diction, but you can use it to address several technique issues. For instance, sometimes I have everyone sing the exercise staccato to help reinforce intonation. It's also fun to crescendo as you go up, and decrescendo as you go down. As students get confident with the text, you can also speed up the temp as you repeat.

Feet, Feet

Quick, fun song that describes the correct sitting posture for singing. Great to work on diction, and singing in a full vocal range. After the first time in unison, we go up a half-step and then round in two- parts.

Follow the Hand

I started off in the video by leading this myself. I try to only sing with them if they get off-pitch. It really helps to build their ears. Lately, I've been getting students to lead the exercise, which they are obsessed with! I also really take the time to address space/tuning/ blend/balance when we do this. (BTW, the students in this video are in sixth grade.)

Let me know what you think!

What warm-ups do you incorporate into your daily classroom activities? I'm always looking for cool new ideas. Also, if you liked the video demonstrations of some of the warm-ups I use in class, please let me know and I can try to show you more content including them.

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