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Thread: Warmin' up

  1. #1
    Jazz'nRock'nBlues'nFolk.. paularve's Avatar
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    Warmin' up

    When I'm warmin' up, I allways start with my body (heh, I know that sounded a little but weird...) What I mean with that, is that I start rolling my shoulders back and forth. After that, I kind of "pump" my arms towards the floor, to get the blood down to my fingers, then I tense and loose my arms and shoulders in the same position as if I were to play the piano, and finally I stretch the front and back of my wrists. THEN I start playing my warmup exercises.
    I just wondered if this is nescesarry... Cuz I was discussing this with some fellow musicians in town one day, and they say they allways start right on their instruments. One of them ment that the goal was that from the time you decide to start playing and to the time you have the instrument in your arms should be as short as possible. They also meant that the blood starts sirculating as soon as you start playing, and argumented by saying that this is the way most of the "greats" do it.. Is this true? Am I too focused on the physical warmup first? Am I wasting time?

  2. #2
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    in my opinion, youīre definately NOT wasting any time.

    imagine yourself being a worldclass track and field athletic. would you face the 100m worldcup final without beeing warmed up AND stretched?

    though norway is a football ( for our american friends "soccer" ) nation, you may have seen those pros doing their stretching routine before, after and sometimes even during their games and practise sessions.

    why is it so? just because they donīt got anything else to do?
    definately not.

    warming up physically and stretching is equally important as all those excersises you ( or anyone else ) do ( does ) during your ( his/her ) practise session.

    for me, warming up just by playing my instrument, doesnīt work.
    I do have to prepare my WHOLE body to be able to get started on my instrument.
    try listen to any symptomes of tension, getting the blood running equally running trough my whole body, streching and very important getting aware of the way I breathe.

    let me tell you another story, which may figure out the physical and psychologial importance of above mentioned body awareness.

    long before I started to work out a warmup routine including things above ( streching, breathing etc. ) I was forced by really difficult symptoms of bodytension.
    in the beginning it was just some kind of thumbness in my lefthand fingers.
    then pain in my upper back, neck, shoulders and arms.
    my hands were fixed in what I nowadays call "the pencil position".
    I was neither able to fully open them, nor to close them to a fist.
    at least I was forced by "vertigo" ( Iīm not sure if itīs the same word in english ) and wasnīt able to pass everyday situations like driving a car, watching tv, reading books etc.

    besides the muscular pain which I wasnīt longer aware of, because it had become normal condition, I felt like being drunk.
    I do love drinkinī beer and I do like being drunk sometimes, but it isnīt funny loosing control and looking like a "bagwhan - follower on ecxtasy" for at least 6 weeks.

    to make this long story short,

    after several visits to several meds, a physio - theraphist ( who works with a lot of classical musicians from cologne opera a.o. )
    solved my problem by "fighting" my bodytension and the resulting muscular problems which had, in some kind of way, "blocked" parts of my nerval system and therefore caused above mentioned muscular pain, loss of bodycontrol and "vertigo".

    nowadays, because of this experience and the stretching excercises he gave me, I do know the importance of "pre - instrumental" warm up and bodyawareness.

    even though Iīm lightyears away from total bodyawareness,
    I keep working on that daily, even in non - musicially situations.


    best regards,

    Marc

  3. #3
    Jazz'nRock'nBlues'nFolk.. paularve's Avatar
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    What do you do when you warm up, and excactly WHY are you doing the different things you do?
    And, before - when you only warmed up on your instrument - did you start slowly or did you start right on playing 16ths at 200 bpm? Can tension be avoided if you just start playing easy and slow at first?

  4. #4
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    I am not that "academic" about it. I pick the guitar, and start playing some easy simple things at a slow tempo. Some scales, arpeggios, chords, etc.

    However, whatever works for you, stick with it.

  5. #5
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    Iīll try my very best to give you a more detailed look into my perspective to this topic.

    though Iīm neither a medicine, nor a native english speaker Iīm kind of limited during my attemps of describtion.

    all I can do is to share my own experiences and the conclusions that came up as a result of self reflectional behaviour.

    the "why" is what I have already mentioned. I experienced physical problems, therefore I was forced to reflect my way of practising, playing and overall physical behaviour and to change some "bad habits", in order to avoid similar situations of pain and / or losing the physical ability to play my instrument.

    the upcoming question that came to my mind, after talking to other musicians, athletes etc. who had experienced similar situations, was the following:

    "if I do think of music ( playing my instrument ) as the center of my own universe, as the most satisfiing joy, does it really have to cause me any pain?"

    and the answer is NO.

    serious musicians always tend to give at least 120 percent towards their passion in order to improve on their instrument.
    but is passion equal to an unreflected obsession, neurotic forced?

    again the answer is NO.

    whenever Iīm confronted with pain, fear or whatever Iīm forced to change MY behaviour in order to overcome this.

    so, WHY do I stretch?

    based on my worse experience, I became aware of my bodys needs and started to stretch.
    and it worked. tensions were minimized or completely banned.
    though I do want to give 120 percent towards my passion, too, and though I do want to enjoy playing guitar for the rest of my life, I will keep on stretching, opening my senses towards the needs of my body.

    I have always had to take some days of, just because of some bad habits, just because of overusing or misusing parts of my body.
    30 min. of intense physical preparation per day arenīt any waste of time compared to the risk of losing your playing ability for, in the worst case, a lifetime.

    STARTING OFF SLOWLY...

    thought Iīm not able to play 16th accurately at 200bpm, the answer is no.
    but I donīt think, that anyone is able to give you the answer, at which tempo tension appears at general.
    this might depend on different individual factors.
    so itīs on you to open your senses towards your body needs...

    starting off slowly on the guitar is the next step for me to do during my practise routine.

    regularly the first exercise that I do, is some kind of "note - location", which means, that I do pick a random note ( i.e. G ) and play it all over the fretboard, on each string and in each position,
    using a metronome set to 40 bpm.
    after a couple of minutes I start to speed up through several temposettings, each for at least a couple of minutes until I reach a point where I start to tense or to make mistakes.

    the reason I do this exercise is, that it includes a lot of different and helpful aspects of playing the guitar.

    - fretboard overview / visualisation
    - position shifting

    just name a few.

    I do have to come to an end...

    if youīre interested in what I exactly do, before I touch the guitar, please let me know.
    if you want to know what stretches I do, Iīll try to get a digicam to be able to send you images of it.

    again, best regards...

    Marc

  6. #6
    Jazz'nRock'nBlues'nFolk.. paularve's Avatar
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    But I mean - BEFORE, when you practiced - did you start out easy, or did you go right on the difficult stuff. Cuz someone says that as long as you start correctly (which means slow and easy) it's not nescesarry to warm up physically first... What's your experience on this?

  7. #7
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    first of all, sorry.
    I completely misunderstood.

    ok, this time, Iīll reduce my statement to a short answer.

    yes, I started slowly, but even though, I was confronted with the above mentioned problems.

    conclusion:

    it might work for everyone else, but definately not for me...

    Marc

  8. #8
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Marc,

    really interesting posts, thanks for sharing.

    Iīd like to add my experiences about warmups.
    First of all, these days I hardly have the time to do one long practising session. So I go by a strategy I once read about in a Morse-column... I do several shorter sessions a day, whenever I find the time.
    The good part is that you usually donīt have to warm-up a lot anymore when you do the second, third ( ... ) segment.
    Meaning that, if you i.e. warm-up and practise for like half an hour in the morning, and continue in the afternoon, you donīt need to go through a whole warmup-routine anymore.
    Iīd like to point out that this is what I experienced, and doesnīt mean that it works that way for everyone.
    There sure are people who donīt need to warmup a lot, and never really hurt themselves ( I also think it depends on factors like what strings you use, what kind of scale ( Gibson or Fender ) scale your guitar has, whether you use big stretches or wide bends etc. )
    But I think you should not try to figure out your personal limit by hurting yourself.

    When I warmup, I sit down on my chair. These days, I always tend to sit on the very edge of my chair, which helps me to keep my back kinda straight. I always used to hunch over the guitar, which isnīt very good for your back. So try to keep an upright posture.
    I stretch my arms, i.e. put my left arm over my right shoulder, and pull my elbow a bit. YOu can hurt yourself right there, with those kind of exercises, by overdoing them.
    I really try to roll and stretch my arms and shoulders.

    First things I do with the guitar is:
    - I do some slight bends, then do some bigger bends, starting out in the upper position, then moving down to the lower ones.

    - I play some wide-stretched chords, like i.e. min and maj add9-bar chords, starting in the higher positions, moving down to the lower ones.

    - Then I work on my right hand, doing some trem-picking on all strings, then doing several chromatic exercises. The chromatic "violin exercises" in Petrucciīs "Wild Stringdom" work very well for that.

    Then I play modal scale all over the fretboard.
    This whole procedure takes between 20-30 minutes.

    I never really hurt myself, never had any real problems with muscles and / or sinews, but I know how much that can suck, and how many people have lost the ability to lose their full potential cause they didnīt pay attention to this.

    Depending on what you play, playing the guitar can be a really demanding physical task for your hands, arms, shoulders... like a sport.
    So just like you do when you do a sport in a serious manner, you need to make sure that you take care of your body...
    Eric

  9. #9
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    hi eric,

    thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts regarding this topic.

    needless to say, that even in this case, none of the excercises that I wrote are carved in stone. my personal needs are different from yours or others. things that work for me doesnīt necessarily have to work for others.

    but even though we are talking about the guitar as our instrument, it needs our body ( or parts of it ) to be played.
    and the more it is used the "better" it has to work.
    just like a proper running car.

    all I wanted and still want to figure out, is that everyone of us should do his/her very best to keep his/her "machine" properly running and not to overhear an upcoming motordamage.

    and donīt forget to refill oil after each 1000km driven.

    all the best to you guys,

    Marc

  10. #10
    Acoustic Gunslinger Wyll_Watts's Avatar
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    Hello all,

    Warming up was never a serious issue for me until I started to really get into the world of classical guitar. I struggled for several years with lower back pain and tension, something that can really sap the emotion from a performance. I basically came up with a three part prep-method for playing guitar (classical and other wise). First, a full body warm up: stretching the limbs and back, just getting loose and letting the blood flow. Second, paying careful attention to posture. This part will differ for everyone depending on their body type. Just find a position with as little tension as you can get where the guitar is held in a stable position. When sitting, my left foot is farther forward than my right etc.. posture is very important but I can't tell you how to do it.. just trial and error.. The third part is the actual guitar mechanics. Depending on the style of the piece I am working on this can include 3 note per string and 4-3 note per string scales, drop-2 seventh chords, a few wide stretch exercises, muted right hand speed picking, and , for classical, some right hand exercises focusing on angle of attack and flesh/nail contact. This is the way I pretty much prepare for serious practice sessions, and it all takes about 10 minutes. I'm not sure if any of this is relevant to your situation, just though I'd share.

    Sincerely,
    Wyll Watts

    P.S. - This is my first post on these forums. I've been following Guni's pages since it was guitar4u, it has always been an enlightening experience. Congradulations to Guni and Eric and all here at ibreathmusic and happy birthday.

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