Warming Up

Marta Faulkner '20

“You are a tortoise. Shrink your face into a tiny little wrinkled walnut. Now, expand into a big huge face. Fill the room—big, hulking shoulders, that’s it.”

This is a part of Chorus warm-up routine that by now, after almost a year of being part of the group, is nothing I’ll raise an eyebrow at. But when I first joined the Chorus, shrinking faces, throwing invisible balls, and growing organ pipes through the top of my head took me by surprise, though not the way you might think it did. I’d met choral and band directors before and was well-acquainted with their penchant for strange imagery, but I had never encountered a musical group who responded to it so enthusiastically.

Being enthusiastic about anything was taboo in the high school ensembles I was in. Kids slogged through warmups with limp limbs and monotone voices, and the expression of disgust on their faces was proportional to the choir director’s attempts to energize them.

I found early on that warm-ups and everything that follows are more fun and rewarding if I take them all the way. But even though I was engaged physically, there was a constant sense of dragging the rest of the group behind me—and it was pretty embarrassing to be the only one really doing the warm-ups in our small choir. The overall atmosphere of apathy was exhausting, and because of this, my own enthusiasm often fizzled.

But in the Chorus, as I discovered on the first day I was told to become a tortoise, I don’t have to drag anybody; far from it. In the Chorus I can ride along with the enthusiasm of others. There’s no casting your eyes around to check whether everyone else is engaging with the warm-up before you take it seriously. Chorus members dive into every task, silly and serious alike, with equal intensity and equal enjoyment.

This made a profound impression on me when I first joined the Chorus, and I think it’s one of the things that makes the group so great. But it also means a lot to me personally: in the Chorus, I can lip-trill and invisible-hula-hoop and buzz like a bumblebee and enjoy it. In the Chorus, I can be myself without ever feeling ashamed.