Getting ready to make music: vocal and movement warm-ups

Before we start to make music, warming up our voices and bodies is a great way to prepare our muscles and vocal cords so that we’re ready to play and sing! This is a collection of fun warm-up activities that you could use at the start of a music session to get everyone focused and relaxed before making some music together. 

Vocal and breath warm-ups

Vocal and breath warm-ups are a great way to make your group feel relaxed and settle into a music session.


Instruct your group to breathe in for 3, and out for 3. Raise the number one at a time: in for 4, out for 4, in for 5, out for 5, and so on. You can extend this activity by adding a sound when you breathe out, for example an ‘ah’ or an ‘oh’.


Invite the group to hum softly, on any note. You can move from humming to other sounds, for example ‘ahhh’, hissing, or buzzing. You can ask the group members to choose the sound, and invite them to lead the sounds. 

This activity can provide a good warm-up before singing songs. Experimenting with verbal sounds in this more ‘free’ way can be less intimidating than singing.

Movement warm-ups

Movement activities are a great way to raise the energy and focus levels in a music session.


Stretching is a really good way to start off a music session. Guide the group through a variety of stretches, such as reaching up tall or stretching out to the side. You can use your voice to guide the pace of the movement – for example, when stretching up, accompany this by singing a slowly ascending note, reaching the highest pitch when everyone should be at the peak of their stretch.


Choose some upbeat pre-recorded music that the group could dance to, this might be something that a group member chooses. A member of the group is chosen to lead, and the rest of the group copies their actions. This can be done with or without instruments. You might like to encourage everyone to dance as they wish before starting this activity, to give everybody an opportunity to get some ideas before it’s their turn to lead.

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