Find Your Centre: Musical Warm-Up for the Band

Nov 8, 2023

At the end of the day, no matter which part of the orchestra you’re a part of, playing music is a physical activity. That means it requires precision movements, sometimes from your entire body. Sort of like going to the gym or playing a sport. Have you ever gone to the gym, had a great workout, only to feel stiff and sore the next day? Just like with exercising, a warm-up, like stretching and mentally preparing for performing music, can help prevent unnecessary injury, pain, and wasted time.

Breathe, Move, and Find Your Center

Making the transition from your normal, everyday life into the mindset needed to practice efficiently, or perform can be difficult. Try going though a routine of full body movements before you get to unpacking your instrument. A simple routine like this can help you both limber up as well as center yourself in the moment.

What your full body movement routine consists of will largely depend on what instrument you play. You might try things like arm circles and shoulder rolls, or take a few of the basic postures from yoga, tai-chi, or other martial arts or meditative techniques.

Make Specific Goals

When you make specific, vivid goals, you’re more able to ignite your creativity and passion. Before you lift your instrument case, pinpoint what you want to accomplish. You can then decide what the rest of your warm-up will look like; aligning it with the sort of things you’ll be working on.

For example, if you’re tackling high-velocity music, your warm-up may climax with some speed exercises. On the other hand, if you’re warming up backstage before a performance, you may want to focus your attention on your performance’s emotional expression and fabric.

Set Up & Tune with a Purpose

As you unpack your instrument and start to set up for a practice session or performance, try to go through the process with a focused mindset to prepare for your artistic expression. Never rush through the steps you take when getting ready to play.

Take you time, tune with precision and purpose, and cross into the world of making music with a focused mind.

Warm-Up Slowly

One of the important benefits a good warm-up routine offers is the increased blood-flow in your muscles. This works to stimulate lubrication in your joints – and vocal chords for you singers. That means warming up helps you to play with more ease, while also protecting you against music-related injuries.

To best aid this process, you should begin your warm-up routine slowly. Gradually bring your tempo, intensity, and range up. The kind of material you begin your routine with is irrelevant, and long as it isn’t too challenging.

Mix Things Up

Ideally, your warm-up routine should give you strong control over your instrument, as well as prepare your mind and body for the task at hand – this also means capturing your own imagination. To that end, it’s a good idea to avoid being too repetitive. Try to avoid beginning your routine with the same material every day. Instead, try starting with some simple and easy improvisation, and then continue through a variety of techniques pertinent to what you’ll be practicing or performing.

Whatever your musical style my be, taking the time to go on a journey through an assortment of material during your warm-up routine is of incredible benefit. Branch out, and fire your imagination!

Keep Things Short

And I do mean short – 10-15 minutes.

Once you start your warm-up routine, do your best to finish up in about 15 minutes so you’re focused and ready – not tired. In fact, running through your drills for too long can lead to exhaustion in rehearsals, and worse, during performances.

All that being said, stay flexible. Some people may warm up a bit more slowly than others, some days you may need more time to focus your attention, and different part of the orchestra and different genres of music come with different demands.

For example, before a short, high-pressure performance like an audition, you might want to stretch your warm-up out a little bit. On tougher days, when you may be practicing or performing for a longer period of time, it might also be a good idea to take your time to slowly regain your coordination.

Try to take as much pleasure in your warm-up routine as you can. As you open your case, get tuned up, and play your first few notes, you should feel inspired, and if you’re like us, maybe even a little grateful to be able to make music.

But many music students lack proper understanding to warm-up effectively. If you feel like you fall into this category, or if you’re just looking for a new warm-up routine, this 6-part framework is a great place to start!

Final Thoughts

Warming up is only one part of a massive musical journey. For nearly 30 years, The Music Studio has been proud to offer private lessons for children and adults of all ages and skill levels. Children and adults of all ability levels may study Classical, Jazz, Popular and World music in a friendly learning environment.

Students benefit from: personalized private instruction, an innovative ensemble program, performance opportunities and free recitals. Students are matched with teachers based on their musical requirements and personality, and prospective students may speak with teachers before registering. Their students receive top marks in music examinations, and receive awards and scholarships at music festivals. The Music Studio in Etobicoke supports school music programs by including students’ school music in their lessons. The Music Studio’s Music in Motion Children’s Program offers a stimulating and fun introduction to music for children 6 months to 7 years of age.

Discover your passion for music at The Music Studio!