Monday Music Quote: Warming Up

 From the website of Levon Ichkhanian:

 "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderness"

Warming Up by Levon Ichkhanian

Warming up is a very personal experience, almost ritualistic. I once interviewed a world-renowned classical guitarist who told me that on the day of the performance he doesn't look at the music he will be playing. Instead, his warm-up is eight hours of scales and arpeggios.

As I played in The Lord of the Rings orchestra, I was part of a musical team that included brass, horns, strings, keyboards, accordion and percussion. I was also surrounded by actors, dancers and singers. It was very interesting to me to observe the variety of warm-up techniques used by all. I came to realize that there are many ways of warming up before a show that don't include the instrument.

Before I get to what I learned through that experience, here are some examples of exercises to get your hands agile and ready on the guitar (or piano) in C major.

Exercise 1 
C major scale:

C D E F /  G A B C /  D E F G / A B C (walking quarter notes)

Exercise 2 
An intervallic warm-up in major thirds:

C, E, D, F, E, G, F, A / G, B, A, C, B, D, C, E / D, F, E, G, F, A, G, B / A, C (running eighth notes)

Exercise 3
C major arpeggio:

C E G C / E G C

How to apply these exercises:

* Warm up by using other intervals (4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, octaves...)
* Play all the exercises in all twelve keys.
* Play all the exercises at a slow tempo and increase it as you move along.
* All exercises should be practiced in ascending and descending patterns.
* Start by using only down strokes and switch to alternate picking as you move along.
* Try a tremolo.

When I was working with The Lord Of The Rings orchestra, I was fascinated by everyone's warm-up rituals - the horn players warming up their lungs, percussionists warming up their arms and feet, string players bowing, keyboardists running drills, singers/actors/dancers stretching...

I learned that warming up before a performance goes beyond techniques and practice. There are other things that you can do in body and in spirit, and I thought about how they could be applied into a guitarist's warm-up routine.

A warm-up could be:

1. Visual: visualization of the music, fingerings.
2. Physical: get your body relaxed and flexible through Yoga or stretching.
3. Aural: sing your parts, so that you can commit them to memory.
4. Combine all of the above.

When you are warming up for your next performance, consider how you can add these into your routine.

Hear and Play is having a sale on their piano software where you can use free midis to learn the piano. Visit, Songrobot.

 Best Wishes,

"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey
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