As Maria Von Trapp so rightly noted in The Sound of Music, the beginning is “a very good place to start,” and the beginning of each arts-based lesson is a solid warm-up. Taking the time to warmup the instrument before jumping into arts exploration is not only essential for safety (nobody wants to pull a muscle during dance integration, after all!), but it allows students and teachers alike the opportunity to briefly pause and take stock.
As educators, we are all incredibly aware of the importance of transitions between activities throughout the day and of the power of reflection to conclude a lesson — but almost more important is the tone and mood set right at the start. Working together to create an arts-friendly environment (moving desks back, ensuring media is ready, and so forth) is a good start — but what about an arts-friendly mindset?
Much of the modern school day is focused on individual work and discipline, but many of the tasks we challenge our students to achieve in our arts classrooms necessitate collaboration and teamwork. Using an ensemble focused mindset creates that “arts environment” mentally for each student in the classroom and for you, the teacher. Whether using movement, vocalization, instruments, or a silent activity, ensemble based warmups move your students thinking beyond their individual goals and toward the goals of the group. This is a mentality can positively impact not just your arts-exploration, but the rest of your school day.
Recently, I contributed a blog post to The TYA Blog exploring the use of movement in theatre warmup activities, and the impact a simple two minute warmup activity can have on your classroom ensemble. Moving into your next residency class, challenge yourself consider how that warmup activity is setting the tone “at the very beginning” — how are you ensuring that your students have a very good place to start?