Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Choir Warm-ups and Strained Voices

 If you find yourself hoarse at the end of the night on Tuesdays after choir rehearsals, you could have used a better warm-up. Or, maybe you just drank too much coffee. Or, you couldn't shake off your work day. Maybe the music wasn't your style, not your groove. It's not always from singing too high or too loud. 

Just like muscle strain in your shoulders or legs, your vocal muscles can get hurt because of tension and doing something new, or unusual. So, you need to sing all week long and you need to do a warm-up, just like you do with sports or other exercise, to avoid vocal strain on choir nights. 

General relaxation and good health and practice are key to avoidinig strain. 

Try not drinking coffee on choir day, and stay hydrated. Many of you remember diligently to bring a water bottle, but maybe you should consider a soothing herbal tea instead. 

Whenever you sing, at choir or at home, get the kinks out of your neck and shoulders before you start, and take some good mindful breaths at the very least. A yawn is a good gentle warm-up exercise. A general physical stretch-and-relax practice is recommended, so we always do that on choir nights. And, some people massage the outside of the neck and face, or the inside of the mouth with the tongue. 

Humming is excellent. Look it up. Studies have shown lots of benefits. Hum whenever you think of it, and hum some warm-up drills before you sing. 

Sirens (or rollercoasters) are good and can be done on lip trills (raspberries) or tongue trills (rrrr) or on the sound "ng"(like at the end of the word sing-we need to try this one). If you can't do the trills, you need to relax more. Tension is a big part of the problem. There are videos which might help you to learn to do lip trills. 

There are all kinds of videos and articles online on the topic of vocal warm-ups, vocal strain, choral warm-ups, and singing in general. They don't all apply to what we're doing. You're not a professional singer and you're not a professional speaker. You just want to use your voice to sing for fun, and you don't want it to hurt. 

Here are some different kinds of videos on YouTube. Find one you like and do some working out regularly so you're not getting that "weekend warrior" pain. 

I love that last one! Sparkle every day, people! 

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