Friday, October 13, 2017

Warmups and Daily Routines

Warmups and Daily Routines

There are two basic reasons we need to warm up; to maintain the skills that we have already developed in our playing and to create the skills that are not yet fully developed (sometimes that part is called ‘daily routines’).

It was already visible in the middle of the last century. While I was a student at the Eastman School of Music there were two kinds of brass players; those who religiously would process their warmups and daily routines for long periods of time every day, sometimes hours. They sounded wonderful, tone quality, dynamics and articulation were usually excellent and they indeed became virtuosos of function.
The second group was the ones who would do their warmup routine in 20-30 minutes and immediately move on to their musical materials of the day. Most of the time they simply sounded better. 
My personal definition of a warmup:
Athletes always warm up; a pitcher always spends time “the bullpen” before a baseball game; swimmers, track runners, shot putters and all other kinds of athletes all perform better in their events after they warm up.Ballet dancers always warm up by stretching on the bar before practice, rehearsal or performance; they wouldn’t think of starting any other way.

And far closer to the discipline of playing a brass instrument; singers need to vocalize (warm up) to be their best in performance. Singing and brass playing are very much the same because the sound source is organic; with singers it’s the vocal chords (larynx), with brass players it’s the lips. Most of our warmup materials in the several superb warm up books we use in the brass community are modifications of vocalizing methods created by European vocal teachers of the 18th century. Like brass players today, different teachers and different singers vocalized (warmed up) in different ways. These were decisions that were made by specific teachers and students.

Referring back to the fact that the students who warmed up for 20 – 30 minutes simply sounded better than the warmup virtuosos, who sometimes did there daily routines for as long a 2 hours. The daily routine of the 20-30 minutes players was, in fact, making music. This seems to me a much healthier direction to go.

Playing music develops the strength and suppleness that we need much more than a lot of long tones, plus it develops our musicality…, which is more fun and helps to play good exams, win competitions and get jobs.

Roger Bobo, October 13, 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico