Monday, May 15, 2023

The pep talk I give before every singing workshop 1: preparing to sing

I give an introductory pep talk at the start of all my singing workshops.

The aim is to give out useful information, but also to reassure and relax the singers.

In this series of four posts, I’m going to share the things I cover. You might find it useful for your own needs, or maybe have some suggestions for how to make it better.

Since I’ve stopped running regular groups, most of my work involves me standing in front of a room full of strangers, people I haven’t worked with before. Some of them might know each other, and have even sung with them before. But mostly, the majority of singers will be strangers to each other, and to me.

I need to give out some basic essential information (when lunch break is, where the toilets are, etc.), but also to help relax and reassure people before we start singing together. I also need to make sure that people will feel comfortable physically and to give an idea of what to expect from my workshop.

1. preparing to sing

The first part of my pep talk concerns preparing to sing (or “the warm up” as some people call it).

Here’s the kind of thing that I might say.

I’ve written a lot here. I won’t always cover everything in as much detail, but I wanted to include all the main points. 

In a moment we’ll start with a preparation for singing. I believe that your breath, voice and body are all connected, so this preparation will involve using your body with your breath and voice.

You might be using parts of your body that you’re unfamiliar with. Or discover that a bit of your arm bends more than you thought it would. But please work within your own limits. Only you know if you have a dodgy knee or a bad back. Please don’t do something I ask if you know it’s not good for you, or is going to hurt. We’re all adults here, so please take responsibility for your own physical well-being.

I always encourage people to stand when singing. It makes our bodies more available to us, stops us from slumping in a chair and compressing our breathing apparatus, and keeps the energy up. Standing is good for you. Recent studies have shown that giving people a standing desk at work benefits all sorts of areas like blood pressure, muscle mass and weight. I will be standing up all day. If I sit down, I’ll probably nod off!

But if you need to sit down at any time, please do so. If you need to sit down for the whole workshop, then that’s not a problem. It is possible to adapt all the physical exercises we’ll be doing for sitting in a chair. In fact, recent research has shown that just visualising physical actions can have the same effect on the body as actually doing them.

I said earlier that we’re all adults here. However, I’d like you to imagine that you’re a four-year-old again and try to tap into that playfulness (and silliness). Many of the exercises we’ll do might seem a bit silly on the face of it. However, they all have clear reasoning behind them and positive benefits. But if I explained everything as we go along, we’d be here all day! You just have to trust me. Or be a four-year-old and have fun doing them.


Next week I’ll write about part 2 of my pep talk: nobody knows what’s happening.


Chris Rowbury


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