Warm-ups are vital for the rehearsal process, to get students’ bodies and minds ready to work. They should include three parts – physical, vocal, and mental. Some students will resist warming up, believing that it’s a waste of time. One of the best ways to get students committed to warming up is to make it fun, and to hand ownership of the warm-up process to your students. As much as possible, include your students in the creation and execution of warm-ups. Among the benefits are increased buy-in and various leadership opportunities, as well as one less thing for you to do!
The physical warm-up gets students’ bodies ready for the rehearsal. It helps keep their stamina up while avoiding injuries and strained muscles. It doesn’t matter if the show is a musical or a play – a physical warm-up should be included. I usually allow students to talk quietly during the physical warm-up, as long as they keep moving, so they can get the chattiness out of their systems. However, feel free to take away that privilege if talking gets in the way of the warm-up.
It’s easy to strain your vocal chords, so unless you’re doing a mime show, a vocal warm-up is a necessity. We’ve covered lots of different vocal warm-ups in this post – check out the Vocal Technique & Clarity section in particular. Tongue-twisters, breathing exercises, and precise unison speaking are all good warm-ups to use with your students.
Here’s another simple vocal warm-up. As a group, stand in a circle. Have your students breathe in and out as a group a few times to focus and sync themselves together. In unison, students will recite the following sounds out loud:
Or, try this one:
For a bigger challenge or to save time, try combining your physical and vocal warm-ups. Have your students recite tongue-twisters while they’re stretching, or do the consonant exercises above while jogging in place. Keep the pace slow and steady so students don’t get winded!
Your students are likely busy people, with a lot on their minds. Helping students mentally prepare themselves during warm-ups can help them leave their worries and anxieties outside the rehearsal space and focus on the work at hand. It gives them time to calm their active brains and get into a rehearsal mindset.
Yoga or tai chi-style movements, mindfulness exercises, journaling, and visualization exercises are all great ways to help students calm their minds and get focused. You can also try one of my favourite relaxation and focus exercises, the Mindful Triangle Exercise, with your students. It’s a great way for them to calm and centre themselves before rehearsals.