Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Warming Up


richardz
 Share

Recommended Posts

I don't know if it's my lack of skill or peculiar metabolism or whatever else, but I always find it takes me a long time to pull myself together and play to the average top of my ability. In other words, I really play remarkably better after about 1/2 hour of playing than I do when first starting to play. Does anyone else feel the same or is there a good way to warm up that is standard?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It takes me a least a half hour to come anywhere close to the "top" of my playing. Before performances, I'll warm up for a full hour to get myself well coordinated and have my fingers be nice a flexible.

There are specific exercises I do that speed things up a little, but overall I think it's just having that extra bit of time to reorient yourself with the instrument. I suspect people who play upwards of six hours a day might not need as much warming up, though...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hax: Very interesting. Glad to know I have company. Yes I think you're right. The ones who play the best "cold" are probably practicing a lot and are loaded for bear on top of it all.

Steve: Yes I had the same confusion for a while. I bought a few different violins and they all had the same problems. ha ha

Thank you both for responding. I don't feel quite so alone now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruggerio Ricci said it took him 4 (yes - four) hours.

For me, when I was a fulltime musician, I would start with some 3 octave scales, slow - working up to fast, add some arpegios, single string two ocatave scales, some shifing warm-ups, some octaves and thirds and finish with a Schradiek hand twister, that took about 10-15 minuts to get the body working, but then I still had to get the ears tuned in and the focus fully on, especially if I was playing in an ensemble. I'd say 30 minutes is a pretty good estimate, of course I could never get, in my whole life, where Ricci could get in 4 hours.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Dr. S.

So does that mean Ricci would show up at a hall 4 hrs before a show and do that for most concerts? Do most players do that?

Thanks also for the detailed answer. That's an interesting combination and makes perfect sense. I'll investigate the Schradiek hand twister too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pianist Glenn Gould used to soak arms and hands in warm water to "warm up" before playing. Doing that or using a heating pad might also help a violinist cut down on the warm up time.

Gould did that because he was injured and in pain and the warm water relieved the pain for a short while. I doubt if it had much to do with musical "warming up" in the sense discussed above. Gould was essentially a musical cripple in the last decade of his life, unable to play for more than about 15 minutes straight without incapacitating pain. He made his recordings in many very short sessions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a sad story Gowan but actually I think the warm water is used by people other than cripples. I think I read in one of Yehudi Menhuins books he would soak his forearms in alternateing cold and hot water. If i remember correctly, he did this after he had played for a while and it would bring more energy into his hands and arms if he was tiring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a sad story Gowan but actually I think the warm water is used by people other than cripples. I think I read in one of Yehudi Menhuins books he would soak his forearms in alternateing cold and hot water. If i remember correctly, he did this after he had played for a while and it would bring more energy into his hands and arms if he was tiring.

I didn't mean to imply that warming your hands or arms is bad, I just wanted to point out that there was more to Gould's behavior than met the eye. Actually, warming will increase blood circulation to your hands, which might help in playing.

Just a few words regarding injured musicians. People like Leon Fleischer and Gary Graffman who had/have serious injuries from playing are well known but plenty of other musicians have suffered from injuries at various times in their careers. String players have trouble from holding violins and violas at the shoulder, cellists develop back problems, and all can develop tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and focal dystonia in the left hand. Viola players in particular are prone to problems, especially if they play a large instrument. The often-heard advice to play through the pain can be fatal to a career. If something hurts, stop doing it and figure out why there is pain. Most often pain results from doing something wrong, technique-wise. Unfortunately, some teachers don't know how to deal with this sort of thing and when students complain of pain, simply say that more practice is needed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Dr. S.

So does that mean Ricci would show up at a hall 4 hrs before a show and do that for most concerts? Do most players do that?

Thanks also for the detailed answer. That's an interesting combination and makes perfect sense. I'll investigate the Schradiek hand twister too.

Good question, but the one encounter I had with him (a masterclass and Q&A, but with a fairly small and intimate group), it wasn't asked. I assume he finds some place - perhaps not always at the hall, which brings another good question - how long does a warm up last. I know for myself, once I've done some playing, then for other playing sessions during the rest of the day it doesn't take as long to get going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have fibromyalgia, and I find that soaking both hands in warm water before practicing helps a lot. It still takes me at least 1/2 hour to warm up. I just bought a magnetic bracelet from China to wear on my left hand while playing, and it actually made a big difference. My hand feels warmer when I am wearing the bracelet (probably more blood supply from iron in the blood responding to the magnets). I still need a good half hour to warm up, though, even with the bracelet. It cut down on the pain and the tendency of my 3rd and 4th fingers to get cramps and become very sluggish. Warming up does not always stop the problem with my 3rd and 4th fingers. But the combination of the magnetic bracelet plus the half hour warm-up has eliminated the problem, so I can practice for about another hour, with a couple of breaks to rest my hand. I'm 63, so I have senior citizen problems, not young musician problems. I always start with soaking both hands in water, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes seems to be a consensus I agree with too.

When I was playing a lot and still trying to improve, some 35 years ago, I found I had to do 30 minutes of serious warmup playing before I could start to work on things I wanted to improve.

Now, it still takes 30 minutes of playing until my vibrato is where I want it to be and my bow arm controlled enough (on a good day) - but I'm no longer able to run through the same warmup (including Paganini caprices) that I did those years ago.

I have always found it interesting that I require much less warmup time to get to "my level" in cello playing- I'm pretty much there after the equivalent of a line of music. Oh! and one other thing aboout that cello warmup: I have found these past 5 - 10 years, that starting out the morning with 5 or more minutes of cello playing is a big help to then follow with follow with violin playing. The heavier warmup on the cello seems to get my hands and arms better set to tackle the lighter violin requirements.

For me, osteoarthritis is the major thief of dexterity (left-thumb joint).

Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an interesting topic. It takes me a little while to warm up. What amazes me is how Heifetz in those masterclass videos was able to pick up the violin cold and play passages at a much higher level than his students. I've heard many people say "Well he's just Heifetz" in explaining his ability, but I think Heifetz really had a tremendous understanding of what his hands should do and of course great natural ability on top of this. My point is I think it is important to analyze what the hands do. I think for most string players the left hand is the focal point in 'warming up'. If you break down the motions of the finger into two categories (extensions, and flexing) and understand the shape of the finger for each note I think this expedites the warm up process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew: That's interesting. Perhaps a short period of focused medium exertion with any number of things could assist with warm-up. I also wonder if the hands being raised above the heart for violin playing is a reason for longer warming up. It takes the blood a while to get up there as opposed to handsbelow the heart (running downhill) for cello playing.

Nate: Yes perhaps a mental focus would assist in faster warm up. That's an interesting idea too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes seems to be a consensus I agree with too.

When I was playing a lot and still trying to improve, some 35 years ago, I found I had to do 30 minutes of serious warmup playing before I could start to work on things I wanted to improve.

Now, it still takes 30 minutes of playing until my vibrato is where I want it to be and my bow arm controlled enough (on a good day) - but I'm no longer able to run through the same warmup (including Paganini caprices) that I did those years ago.

I have always found it interesting that I require much less warmup time to get to "my level" in cello playing- I'm pretty much there after the equivalent of a line of music. Oh! and one other thing aboout that cello warmup: I have found these past 5 - 10 years, that starting out the morning with 5 or more minutes of cello playing is a big help to then follow with follow with violin playing. The heavier warmup on the cello seems to get my hands and arms better set to tackle the lighter violin requirements.

Andy

Are you not able to play the Caprices any more? Or do you not practice them, because you are focussed on the cello? Just curious--I am really interested in finding out how long violinists can keep their dexterity, since I have started playing so late in life (63). If you don't get arthritis in your hands, how long can you keep playing the violin? I don't know. Can you keep improving in your 70's? 80'? Any thoughts on this question? Most players have given up serious practice by their 70's, so the loss of skills might have more to do with quitting practicing than with some inevitable process of age.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Pianist Glenn Gould used to soak arms and hands in warm water to "warm up" before playing. Doing that or using a heating pad might also help a violinist cut down on the warm up time.

So did Kreisler.

Both rarely practised.

Glenn Gould made a point of not going near a piano for weeks before a recording.

The power of the mind perhaps......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

A new chance method I am trying that seems to actually work (if you run occasionally) is: Run a mile or a mile and a half at an easy pace breathing deeply. Then hang from a bar (ok...no jokes) or tree branch for about 30 seconds with palms facing you and 30 seconds with palms facing away and let the muscles stretch out. Then go home and play. It seems to really work. I felt more focused and the muscle response is pretty much immediate. The first day I tried it my hands felt a little stiff at first, but subsequent days they seemed fine. Please let me know if you try it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...