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Jazz warm-ups

What kind of warm-ups do you use for vocal jazz ensembles? Obviously you might use some of the same voice-building exercises you might use for any other choir, but I'm asking about jazz-specific exercises: tuning jazz chords, jazz riffs, scat syllables, and so on.
on March 8, 2012 4:55pm
Great question. My choir meets after school - after the students have had a vocal class that day - so we do not need to warm-up and we use the pieces we sing as a way to work on intonation, phrasing, vowels, scatting, etc. However, next year this will likely be a during-the-school-day class so I will definitely need warm-ups. I have a few that I have used in the past that were written by Dave Reilly but I have not found a book I like as yet. We are more likely to use jazz tunes as a warm-up (using scat syllables) unless someone out there has a text/method that they prefer and can share with us.
on March 8, 2012 7:03pm
I am a retired vocal educator here in PA...but I directed a vocal jazz ensemble for many years.  We met after school once a week.  I, too, used some warm-ups I learned in a Dave Reilly summer workshop.  One of them was a decidedly baroque, contrapuntal, quick, and very cool Swingle Singers-type scatted exercise thru the circle of fourths.  Ton o' fun. Practical, good for teaching line, pitch, phrasing, and syllable variation. I still use it when I direct festivals.
Another exercise is singing through the heads of jazz standards....if you can't play the changes to accompany, use one of Jamie Aebersold recordings. Serious jazz singers need to learn the great tunes that are out there.  Let 'em learn Funny Valentine(with the right notes, I might add), There Will Never Be Another You, Night & Day, Bye Bye Blackbird...and a hundred other tunes from the great American songbook.  Take five minutes at the front edge of rehearsal to learn a new song.  Just five.  No harmony...everyone sings the head.
Still another...a good scat exercise...sing the middle scat section from Steve Zegree's arr. of How High the Moon.  Good for teaching swing...pitch accuracy. You know!!! the ba du ba du ba du ba du ba du bah  part, etc... Good to loosen everyone up. Light singing...just rhythm, rhythm, rhythm & fun.  Besides it's based on a great tune....Anthropology, by Charlie Parker!
Don't know if this helps you...but these have worked for me.
Long live jazz!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 11, 2016 4:43am
Hi Allen,
One of the warmups (warmdown) that I use to get their ears working on some very hip harmonies is a Sus9 chord. To get there I have them sing the common Me e May a Mah ah Moh oh Moo oo -  1-3-2-4-3-5 on the way up then I have each section (Soprano -1, Alto - 2, Tenor - 3, Bari/Bass - 4) park on selected pitches to hold on.
G - Sopranos/1's
F - Altos/2's
D - Tenors/3's
C - Bari/Bass / 4's
After two or three of those I have them hold their pitch and move up and down in half steps (chromatically). Usually a couple both ways depending on how they are doing that day.
I am working on getting them to go through the ii-V7-I's and the Major7, Minor7, and Dominant7's. They get them separately but not one after another. They will.
Another cool thing that I have started is to have them hold a 7th chord (you choose) and one at a time they go through the appropriate tones (4 of them) as if they are improv-ing.
E - Sopranos/1's
C - Altos/2's
B - Tenors/3's
G - Bari/Bass/4's
Then have them work, on lah over the Ooo background, 5 - 7 - 9 - 11 (minor/min7b5) or #11 (major/dominant). Mine know that 1-3-5 are safe and we are working on the color tones.
Just a thought.
Share if you have, or come up with, something.
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