About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and five children.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modem: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

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Warm ups
published 18 July 2015 by Veronica Brandt

snowball O, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT SNOW. This topic has been germinating from before it started snowing. The chance to mention snow in Australia is only a side effect of the title. I’ll try not to mention snow again.

A few weeks ago I was looking at drama games to fill in a gap at our local homeschool co-operative. A little digging revealed a wealth of activities designed to encourage participants to work together, pay attention and even have fun along the way. A program would begin with a few warm up activities leading into skill building and scene-work. I fondly remember these games from school, although I was rather shy, they allowed everyone to have a turn.

On the weekend I used one of the warm ups when going over some music with a small group of children. We did a five count shake which I had seen from a local drama teacher. It really helped lift their spirits and set us up to lift their voices.

Andrew Motyka has written about the value of warm-ups. Like many pieces of good advice I have read, and nodded, and then shelved it away.

Now I am noticing that things like watching the conductor, singing together, blending, listening to each other – these are all learned skills and choir practice is the time when my singers will be learning these skills as well as the music.

Choosing warm ups is going to depend on the people in your choir as well as the space you have. A bunch of kids with a wide grassy area is very different from a group of adults in a small meeting room.

One thing I still like to start with is a prayer before choir practice. I’m not sure where it came from originally, but it serves as a call to put aside chatter and remember we are here in God’s service.