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Cool Ice breakers Warm Up for Choirs - Singing People's Names

Updated on December 29, 2012

Directing a choir can be a really cool experience. In a choir rehearsal, there are a few avenues where you can inject some creativity and variability into the rehearsal outside of the set music repertoire that needs to be accomplished. In this hub, I wish to give you a cool suggestion or idea for warm ups that you might want to use with your choir.

Singing people’s names

If your choir is meeting for the first time, or if you need to break the social cliques, this might be a cool way to break the ice and create friendships - by singing people’s names. How do you do this? You could sing people’s names by going up the scale, and coming back down again (do re mi fa so la ti do.... ti la so fa mi re do). You could do the entire scale, or you could just sing up to the fifth - or any note! It's really up to you.


Choir Warm ups

I’d suggest you have one round of introduction, and then afterward you could sing people’s names - you could sing those with two syllabi eg. Amy, Jason, Arthur, Michelle, then switch to triplet rhythms with those who have names with 3 syllabi eg. Cassandra, Katherine, Jonathan... and you could even change the stress of the beats according to the stress of the names eg. caSANdra, or KATHerine....

Jazzing up a simple warm up

If your choir is game, you could go up to four syllabi names, and add in the surnames. From my experience, the more laughter there is during a choir rehearsal (particularly at the start), the more productive it will be.

Sometimes, some names are just inherent tongue twisters, and those names can be a fun challenge to sing - you could turn it into a tiny competition or game to see who can sing a particular tongue-twister name as fast and accurately as possible.

Another nice thing that I like about singing people’s names for warm up, is that it provides a great opportunity to stress the importance of good diction and articulation. So often we forget to sing the consonant sounds - using warm ups to cultivate the habit of making the ‘CHHH’ or ‘SH’ or ‘T’ or ‘ST’ sounds is a cool, subtle and effective way of highlighting the importance of singing the consonants.

The other tactic that you might want to use when singing names, is to choose those names with a particular vowel that you want to sing and unify - for example, if you are singing the word ‘Amen’, you might want to highlight the possible pronunciation of ‘Aaah-men’, or 'Aeeeee-men'. For the first, the name 'Artis', or 'Arthur'.. have the same Aaaah vowel sound. While for the latter pronunciation, the names 'Amy', 'Damien'.. 'Hazel' have the same 'aeeee' vowel sound. Singing these names can help the choir to have a better idea and better memory of which sound they should pronounce.

A little piece of advice

Just make sure that as the conductor, you treat all these precious names with respect, as they belong to your precious choir members.

Another piece of advice that I might give would be to start singing the names of someone who is quite confident and fun-loving first. In fact, I would encourage you to use your own name to start of this warm up - just so that you can model a ‘natural’ reaction towards singing a name, and to show that you are a good sport, fun-loving, and intentional in getting a good vocal workout from your name.

Most people will find it funny or cool, but there are a small handful of choir members (depending on the culture you come from) that might be a little shy or self-conscious, and so they might be unable to sing at all if you choose their name. If they might just squirm in their seats if you look at them during the warm up. I suggest you choose their names toward the end of your warm up - or perhaps not choose their names at all.

How do you break the ice with your choirs? Leave a comment!


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    • profile image

      Rogier 4 years ago

      Hi StellaSee,

      What a great idea. Never thought of that!

      I myself have experience since 2000 when I started out conducting as an 18-year old boy. I collected a lot of exercises eversince and put them together for everyone to know. Maybe you'll like them too. You can find them at

      Great hub you've got here. Keep on the good work!

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago

      Hello StellaSee!

      Your experience sounds like my high school experience too! Lovely memories! Thank you for coming to visit, it's really nice to see fellow hubbers who are into choral singing too. =)

    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 6 years ago from California

      Ahhh reading this reminded me of my high school choir teacher.. she was anal about our diction too. For instance the 'kh' in key or 'buh' in butter or 'peh' in penny. And we had to sing up and down the scale to words like 'me-meh-mah-mou' to emphasize our vowels. Ah~ good times... :)

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey teaches12345,

      I really do hope that my choir enjoys their time! Sometimes I find that I learn more from them than they learn more from me, and it's just a joy to work with so many different individuals to make music together. =) But the piano octave warm ups definitely have a place in my choir - especially when we need to be serious after so much laughter! =P

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      I like you idea. I am sure your choire must truly enjoy their time at practice. I used to sing in a group when I was a teen and we would just warm up traditionally with the notes on the piano octaves.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey vocalcoach!

      This is one of the sweetest encouragement I have received - If you haven't figured out by now, I totally admire you and I would love to be in YOUR choir! So thank you for making my day - I was inspired by your warm up hub to write this quirky warm up that I like to do haha!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      What an excellent article for breaking the ice for new choir members. Good detail. Well written. I am so impressed. I will pass this on to my choir-conducting class students. Thanks, Charlotte. Would love to be in your choir. :) Voted up and across!