Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Purpose of Warming Up

The reason for a warm-up is to warm up! It should not be a burn-up or a fired-up session. If you tend to crash, then it is not a warm-up.

I remember one brass player many years ago in another country who warmed up so furiously and for so long, that he had to rest from his warm-up before attempting to play anything on stage! Something was horribly wrong. (He is no longer with us.) I would stand within earshot, and was in shock and awe at the amazing feats that were being attempted as he began his day. He would blow non-stop through dozens of excerpts, hardly pausing to empty the spit, and then proceed to plow through several concertos. My lips would hurt just listening.

Unfortunately his assignment once in the orchestra was nowhere near as demanding. Usually his part only required that he play a limited number of tonic and dominant notes with good intonation and tone. Is that too much to ask? Evidently. He would struggle feverishly and still wonder why his playing on stage never seemed to improve. That which was "too easy" to bother practicing was what he needed most. Often we ignore the obvious.

The purpose of the stage is not to practice or to go through your complete warm-up routine. The audience pays to hear the show, not endless valiant attempts before it starts. Even before rehearsals, the stage is not the forum for repeated trial and error sessions at full volume. As with the private warm-up, discretion rules, for your own preservation and for that of others. Great players shine when it counts.

Whatever method of limbering up works best, do it carefully and wisely. It can include some bold and confident beltings, but it must be balanced with modest samplings of all the stuff you are required to do. You must be prepared to do it all, and then to do it again, concert after concert. Warm up accordingly.

1 comment:

Music Teacher's Tips Resources said...

Thanks for sharing. Warm-up, practice and performance level - some secrets to a successful show on stage. Whenever you put your heart and exert much effort in whatever you do, you'd surely do it with all confidence and excellence. I completely agree with you when you stated in your post that there has to be complete balance and that one must be prepared to do it all, and then to do it again, concert after concert. Warm up accordingly. Thanks again and more power. Keep on sharing more creative and useful music teaching resources that we can have and enjoy today. See you around.