Reflections on leading a virtual chorus warm-up by Heather

Hi, I’m Heather. As lead section leader I volunteered a few weeks ago to be part of the rota for warm-ups to kick off our Monday rehearsals.

In three parts: physical, mental and vocal, I have done some of all this before in front of the chorus ‘live’ but never on Zoom! My time slot was 20 minutes or so…

Physical

We all agree variety is necessary to maintain interest, especially in ‘virtual’ rehearsals, so I spent quite a lot of time planning a physical warm-up routine that flowed and readied us for the singing. Gentle stretching, a focus on breathing and correct posture were all in there… Timing – 7 minutes plus a little for ‘chat’!

Mental

Next was the mental bit – breath control to start, then something involving concentration like moving up in semi-tones to the words “Covid is a mean old beast, can’t wait until it’s gone”, hoping for a smile too, of course!

Vocal

Five minutes left to sing something together in unison, in a round maybe – this is the hard part as, with all mikes muted except the leader’s, each member can only hear me and themselves. (We have learned the hard way that leaving everyone’s mike on doesn’t work!)  It helps to send the words out ahead of time, so Frère Jacques in French and then English was decided on.

In reality…

Planning all done – putting it into practice was different! I could be seen and heard by everyone, but I could not hear anything from anyone else. Weird! In a bubble! Half the interesting, helpful things I’d planned to say never got said and my chat sounded somewhat inane to me! Feedback had to be by ‘thumbs up’. No chance to read the body language (or check for that smile!) as too many faces on the screen and I was too busy ‘leading’ anyway! My throat went dry several times; I lost my way at one point and the semitones went ‘off’!

So… to sum up. The planning was fun! The actual thing was nerve-wracking. But the positive feedback on our WhatsApp group afterwards showed it was appreciated, so all is well…

What will I plan for the next time? I need a bottle of water for definite!

Heather x