Magic Choral Trick #81 Warm Up One Note
Most people have one vowel that seems to work better than the others. Here’s a way to benefit from that, and have each singer find a more consistent placement for all the vowels.
Say ‘eu’ – with your best French Teacher mouth. This is the width, the shape and the size of opening through which all the vowels will be sung.
The first big secret here is to keep a mildly surprised look on the face, and the back teeth apart.
All on the one note, and legato – sing ‘ee’ ‘ay’ ‘ah’ ‘oh’ ‘oo’______go up a half step while still singing ‘oo’, breathe, and repeat on the new note. Watch out that the mouth shape doesn’t widen after the breath! It’s going to feel a little like breathing in through fish lips. Repeat the exercise, and keep modulating as long as everyone is comfortable with the pitch.
The second big secret is that the amount of mouth movement is absolutely minimal – mostly just very small changes in the (relaxed) tongue. Gently instruct the jaw not to drop on ‘ah’ and ‘oh’, because the placement of the sound in the mouth will move back. I say ‘gently’ because if the jaw is held rigidly in place the tension will show up as a hardness in the sound.
So to review:
‘eu’ – face looks mildly surprised – back teeth apart
‘ee’ ‘ay’ ‘ah’ ‘oh’ ‘oo’______go up half step
Breathe in through fish lips
‘ee’ ‘ay’ ‘ah’ ‘oh’ ‘oo’_______go up half step etc.
When I was working on this exercise last night with my women’s chorus, everyone could hear the improvement in the amount of resonance.