Help your preschooler get his voice ready for participation in voice lessons or family sing-alongs with easy-to-do vocal warm-ups. Warming up the voice is a key step in preparing to sing without stress or strain to the vocal cords. Warm-ups also help in developing vocal range and proper use of breath. Your exercises and expectations, however, will need to be kid-friendly in order to engage your preschooler.
1. Keep It Safe
You'll set your preschooler on the road to safe vocal work by beginning your vocal warm-ups with an emphasis on proper posture and use of breath. Have her stand with her weight evenly on both feet and her spine straight. Give her the sensation of standing straight and tall by telling her to imagine she's a puppet being held up by a string coming out of the center of her head. Ask her to swing her arms gently and bend her knees slightly to check for any clutching or tension. Show her how to alternate breathing slowly and deeply with her hand on the area just below the rib cage -- the diaphragm -- and taking short, quick breaths, similar to an overheated dog's panting.
2. Keep It Simple
Introducing too-complicated warm-ups that involve technical explanations of how his vocal cords and diaphragm operate will only overwhelm your preschooler. Demonstrate exercises that he can imitate, serving as your "echo" by imitating your pitch and tone. Sing a phrase that combines long vowel sounds with consonants -- "MAAA, MEEE, MYYY, MOOO, MUUU," for example. Travel one step up or down the scale as you repeat the phrase of vowels, changing the consonant you use for each new step of the scale. "MAAA, MEEE, MYYY, MOOO, MUUU" might become "TAAA, TEEE, TYYY, TOOO, TUUUU." Have your child imitate you, echoing your movement up or down the scale and switching consonant sounds.
3. Keep It Silly
Don’t force your preschooler to adopt an ultra-serious approach to warming up her voice. She'll look forward to warm-ups if you include a bit of imagination and play in your presentation of the exercises. Show her how to use animal noises -- the long, open meow of a cat or the short, shrill tweet of a bird -- to warm up her mouth muscles. Introduce a range of other imaginative sounds as well, such as the beeps and clicks of a computer, the chugs and whistles of a train, or the clunks and thuds of a garbage truck. Without even thinking about high or low notes, your child will exercise her vocal range and limber up important facial muscles.
4. Keep It Specific
Articulating song lyrics clearly and crisply may not be your preschooler's forte. Kids this age often face challenges with pronouncing certain letters or sounds. However, you can introduce specific tongue twisters into your vocal warm-up, as long as your approach is lighthearted and allowing of his best efforts to speak clearly. Some useful but brief tongue twisters include: "Black bug's blood, blue bug's blood," "Unique New York," and "Red leather, yellow leather." If you want to tackle a longer one, try "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" or "She sells seashells by the seashore."
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