The most important part of learning to sing is learning how to properly warm up your voice. For children, warm-ups can seem and be a really boring part of their voice lesson. As a voice teacher, it can be beneficial to make the vocal exercises fun and engaging for kids so that they are more likely to participate actively.
Your goal is to set the tone for excitement and have the student get their voices ready for their singing lesson. If your voice student hasn’t warmed up properly or well enough, it is easy to tell when you hear them sing since their voice can sound strained or as if they are reaching for notes.
You don’t want to cause any damage to the vocal cords that could have lasting effects, so you should always properly warm-up. Here we will look at six great options for vocal warm-up exercises that are both helpful and fun for kids.
Since you use your whole body and you have to be in good physical condition to sing, you should start your warm-ups by doing some simple body movements. Stretches, bending the knees, squatting, or rolling the shoulders can all be used.
Do some marching in place to get a rhythm going. These would be considered the first warm-up because movements tie right back into the singing voice.
Add in some big sighs to start to work the voice itself. Have the kids do some yawns that are big, long sighs to get their voices stretched out. So you first stretch the body and then stretch the voice lightly to get it going.
This also can help you, the vocal coach, to identify the students’ vocal range and where their voice is comfortable.
Making noises like a police car or firetruck is effective and has the added benefit of being fun for kids. Start at the bottom of the scale, scoop up with the voice to the top and then go back down.
As you do this you can incorporate more movements with hands and arms, having the young singers stretch their hands up when they get to the high notes, and bringing them back down.
What is more fun than using those lips and that tongue to lip trill or blow raspberries?
This is actually a really great singing exercise for your voice. It also aids in breathing since it requires the breath to force out the air, and you can work both breath control and sound with this exercise.
You can do simple scales or octave jumps using either method. You can work on matching pitch with your trills by picking random notes. You can even make it fun by having them sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” through its entirety on a lip trill.
It helps get the kids’ lips moving and the tongue working, two very important parts of the mouth that are crucial for good singing.
These singing warm-ups are engaging, but the benefit is that you’re also adding in labeling the notes with numbers, which helps your young singers with music theory.
You can do thirds and have the kids count the notes as “1, 3, 5, 3 1” or “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8” up the scale and count backward coming back down “8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”
Another way to do this is to add in variations to challenge them to sing the right numbers, or also go really fast up and down the scales.
A graduated version would be a belting exercise where you just count up the octave “1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1!” and then coming down do it as “7-8-9, 7-8-9,” etc. and ending on 10.
When they get to the top part of the octave you can really have them shout it out, and get softer as they come down. This adds another layer of working with dynamics. You can get really creative using the numbers in various patterns.
This also helps you within the singing lesson to identify when the singer is singing in chest voice or utilizing a head voice as you climb scales.
Everyone knows the ABC song. But what if you utilized the ABCs in a vocal warm-up? Instead of using the song everyone knows, you can have kids recite their ABCs in a new and different way.
You can do this similar to how you would do the counting exercises, going up and down the scales.
In this particular exercise, you would go through the ABC’s up and down the scaled three times, and when you get to “X, Y, Z” you go on notes 1, 5, and 1, and hold those notes a little longer.
So when you sing it goes “A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X, Y, Z.” “A” would be note 1, “E” would be 5, then “I” would be 1 again, then “M” would be 5, and so on.
If you want to use another variance, you can create tongue twisters like “My Mom Made Me Mash My M&Ms” going up and down the fifths, where they really have to annunciate their consonant sounds. This is a good vocal technique to use, as well as one like “Mee/Meh/Mah/Mo/Moo” to work on vowel sounds.
You can also play with the speed in this exercise to make it faster, and the kids really enjoy it. You can be innovative here too if you have some older kids who can do their ABC’s backward and go down the scales starting with “Z” to test their brainpower. Again, like with the counting, you can get really creative with the exercises.
These singing exercises allow voice teachers to make warm-ups more fun when working with children so that they will actively engage. Keep in mind that you can work with various breathing and posture exercises too.
The body movement also ties back to helping the voice, and kids, especially younger ones, like to move!
As an instructor, having a positive attitude during this process will make warmups a fun element during voice lessons. Singing is a discipline that can be fun to learn, so as a teacher, you need to demonstrate just how much you love doing it. That feeling will become infectious!