4 secrets of how to start a great rehearsal

Our warm-up, and the beginning of our rehearsals, is 99% the same each time. The routine is nice because it creates comfort and promotes a sense of fellowship among our singers.

1. Get moving 
First, it begins with a physical warm-up where we dance to a song selected by the person leading the exercise. We have a handful of such leaders—graceful and energetic singers from our chorus—who take turns guiding us through the warm ups. In order to fit, we spread out in the hall and then turn to face the leader, who mirrors the movements. The physical warm-up loosens us up and makes us relax. When the song is over, the chorus applauds the leader and we take our places on the risers.

2. Get the right mindset 
After the physical warm-up comes the mental warm-up, led by Britt-Helén. This exercise includes a couple of mindfulness exercises, which make it easier for us to stay grounded in the "here and now" and maintain focus throughout the rehearsal. During the mental warm-up, we take long breaths and let go of irrelevant problems or concerns, instead putting our energy toward the choir and the upcoming rehearsal. While we breathe, we focus on feeling grateful for the opportunity to be present at rehearsal, that we’re not hindered by disease or work or any of life’s other issues, that we live in a society where we can do what we love most of all in the world - sing. Regardless of whether we came to the rehearsal upset, irritated or a bit blue, we leave it filled with positive energy and joy.

3. Set the bar – express the mantra 
After the mental warm-up, we repeat our "mantra" (below) and conclude by applauding Britt-Helén.

‘Hats off! 
I am in my best A+ frame of mind 
I have a champion’s attitude 
Together, we will reach magical, amazing heights’

To a visiting outsider (and even new chorus members), this mantra might seem a bit odd or cult-like. However, it contributes to a strong sense of sisterhood and enhances our self-esteem as individual singers, knowing we are part of a tight-knit group striving toward a common goal.

4. Voice training and warm up 
The last phase of the warm-up is the longest and focuses on the voice. This part is led by one of our section leaders, who determines which exercises we will do. Usually she has chosen exercises that, in addition to walking us through our register, trains different vocal techniques that we need to practice in relation to our current repertoire. For example, if we have a song with a lot of ‘A’ vowel sounds, many of the words during the warm-up should also contain that sound. Or perhaps we need to practice going from ‘O’ to ‘Oo’ without the decreasing volume or resonance. A lot of focus is given to “opening up,” engaging our resonators and finding the right placement to maximize overtones. When the vocal warm-up is over, the leader is applauded and we are ready to start!