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Magic Choral Trick #354 Diphthong Warm Up Drill

Gotta find your fun wherever you get it, so I’ve turned this diphthong drill into a sort of game.

The two words I’ve been using for this quickie drill are ‘Are’ and ‘Our’ – though it might be a good idea not to tell your group what the words are before you start. What we’re trying to do here is detach the mind from some lifelong habits.

First ask the group to sing an ‘Ah’ vowel for about 4 slow beats.

Tell the chorus that when you do the cut off with your Right Hand, they’re to sing a very fast, but focused er. (the word Are)

Do this several times until:

1. Everyone is scanning the tongue for tension for the duration of the ‘ah’ vowel – thinking only the vowel, and not the word.

2. The ‘er’ is completely synchronized

Now ask them to sing a slow 4 beat ‘ah’ again, but when you cut them off with your Left Hand, they’re to sing a very fast, but clean, ‘oor’. (the word Our)

Again this will need drill until those tongues stop roiling up with tension in anticipation of the end of the word.

I find also that there’s almost never enough ‘oor’ initially – and I ask them to sing the diphthong resolution with about double the amount of mental intensity. I don’t mean that it should be accented, just that the thought of the ‘oor’ is even clearer, and twice as intense as for the thinking of the ‘ah’ vowel.

Now comes the extra focus (and hopefully fun) part of the drill.

Have the chorus sing ‘ah’ for at least 4 slow beats as both of your hands are ready to do the cut off. A cut off with the Right Hand means they should finish the word with an ‘er’, and a cut off with the Left Hand means they should finish the sound with and ‘oor’.

I vary these – so there’s no pattern, and so that no one knows which ending is coming.

Next week I’m going to do this same exercise with ‘Nice’ and ‘Now’ (Nah…….eece, and Nah………oo)

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