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Linda Mah
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Core Workouts Part of Maple St. Music

Weekly Workouts Help Students with Singing Skills

On Fridays, Julie Davis’ choir class gets down to work.


On those days, the students push the desks out of the way in their Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts classroom, pull out yoga mats, and claim a space on the floor for Core Fun Fridays.

Teacher Julie Davis devotes 10 minutes every Friday morning to core muscle exercises. The workout can include bicycles, sit-ups, and flutter kicks. The list of exercises and the number of repetitions changes every week.

Except for the planks.

There are always planks.

Davis said she starts the students with 45 seconds to a minutes, with the goal of having them do 3 to 4 minutes of continuous planking by the end of the school year. She’s had students perform core exercises every since she started teaching at Kalamazoo Public Schools eight years ago, and she gave ab workouts the official name “Core Fun Fridays” about six years ago.

“Core work helps students develop muscles we need to have good posture for singing and for sitting in their other classes throughout the day,” Davis said. “And core strength is necessary for breath support for singing.”

People mistakenly think that singing comes from the throat of diaphragm, when it’s actually generated by the musculature around the rib cage, she said.

“The more support you have there, the stronger your muscles are, the longer you can hold notes and the less breathy you will sound, the more you can focus on beautiful open tones,” Davis said.

“Singing is just moving air past the vocal cords. We work on the muscles that support and move air past the vocal cords, and it becomes second nature to the students because we’ve put all of the work in during Core Fun.”


Seventh grader Harrison Wood works on his bicycles during Julie Davis’ choir class.

Danica Harper and Kristen Hoogerheide, seventh grade, do swimmers side by side in choir.

Seventh grader Sushilia Stegman concentrates on flutter kicks during the Core Fun Fridays in the Maple Street choir room.

Jermaine McClellan, eighth grader, works on his bicycles during Core Fun Friday at Maple Street.

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