7 Best Rhythm Exercises For Choir

Posted by Ben Heckler

Whether or not you’re leading a choir class or attending one, rhythmic exercises while singing are crucial to get under your belt!

That’s because a strong rhythmic sense is necessary to be that incredible musician we all aim to be, and all of us can be! It belongs to what differentiates an amateur from a pro.

Pros have developed a very strong sense of internal rhythm—and the way to get there is through training not only melodically, but rhythmically!

We’ve assembled some great activities that are great to improve one’s sense of rhythm and have fun at the same time.

These workouts should not only heat up the voice, however likewise challenge the vocalist’s present capabilities.

When the singer has mastered the basics, some of the following exercises will expand on those introductory exercises while others will work particular technical skills every singer will need. Take a look at this article for starting workouts.

choir with men and women

1. Identify the mistake

If you are a teacher looking to train your students to recognize what they might be doing wrong, what better way then to set an example?

Carry out the rhythm, making one or more errors. Be late on the downbeat or too quick to jump to the next interval. Ask them to follow along with their books.

Following the performance, ask students to recognize the specific mistake(s).

Furthermore, invite students to lead another example. Again, pick a certain passage of a piece and singing one or two notes incorrectly (not pitch-wise, but rhythm-wise) and see if others can identify them.

2. Adding a rest (game)

A fantastic method to establish this skill starts by singing a familiar tune a number of times in a row. Each time you duplicate the tune, change one extra word with a rest.

Attempt Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes excluding another body part each time.

Likewise, pick a passage from your repertoire, and advise students to perform specified words, notes, or procedures “internally.”

Maybe you do the first bar aloud, become silent in bars 2 and 3, and after that sing procedure four aloud.

3. Sight-reading rhythms

Sight-reading is the capability to see a brand-new piece of music and play it correctly for the very first time.

One of the advantages of sight-reading is the ability to learn music very quickly. To do this we need to have a really refined ability to read rhythms (and to learn how to read ahead).

Pick a worksheet full of quarter notes, eighth notes and rests, nothing too fast, and begin to sight-read it. Give them 15 seconds or so to look it over and then try to sight-read it with just rhythm.

They can use a neutral vocal tone such as a syllable without any defined note.

Check out this example below, print it out and try it by yourself or with your students!

Image result for rhythm exercises choir

4. Follow the leader

Here you will give the students a chance to lead rhythms themselves. Establish order and have the first person establish a rhythm in 4/4 time. After the 4 counts, the rest of the class has to copy the rhythm.

As the teacher, be sure to interject and introduce rhythms that they won’t expect (hint: the most complicated rhythms are those with a lot of space).

5. Double time

This exercise serves the singer best when used early on in the warm-up process as it works on controlling the breath.

Begin by selecting a single pitch in the middle or lower part of the vocal variety and singing the picked pitch on a “hi” consonant/ vowel combination (pronounced “hee”).

Start by doing quarter notes, four times at a medium pace, then instantly follow with 8 eighth notes and completing by sustaining the pitch for a couple of seconds.

Depending on the tempo this can get you out of breath pretty easy, but it is a great exercise for strengthening the lung capacity as well as working on quick rhythms.

6. Recording yourself (or the class) to a metronome

black and white metronome

We should all record ourselves, that is the true test to know how we sound out in the real world.

However, analyzing our rhythm may not be easy if we don’t have a reference. Try to record yourself or the class to a metronome (or a rhythm) and see

Select a tune that you have been working on or that you know well and select a slow tempo.

Keep track of how many times you got off the beat or were a little bit fishy with the rhythm. Have the class analyze this too. Each student will follow along with the sheet music and keep track of the beats where the class wasn’t entirely lined up with the metronome.

Remember not to be discouraged by how many times the class got off rhythmically! Rhythm is just like any other skill that can be improved.

7. Practicing dynamics (to a metronome)

When going through a piece of music that you are working on (or sight-reading), try to add dynamics.

For example: try alternating so that every measure you are singing very softly. Here you are trading off soft and loud singing.

Be sure to not change the rhythm! Usually, we want to speed up when we sing louder and slow down when we play softer. Sing to a metronome to make sure you are not doing this!

If you want an even more challenging exercise try switching dynamics more often, say, every 2 beats or even every beat!

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