Many players brass players struggle to find the right warm up that will help them play in a consistent manner. Although there aren’t any magical secrets about warm up, this routine could be used as a base to develop a personal warm up.
The purpose of a warm up routine is to prepare yourself for practicing and playing and should not in anyway make you tired. The length or how long should you warm up will vary day by day, depending on the general physical and mental condition on that particular day.
The basic idea of a warm up is to get to a same point of balance every time before attempting to continue further. Some days will be faster than other days, and once you get the right balance, playing will be consistent day by day.
When warming up, you need to be relaxed and tension free. It’s like a mini meditation routine.
When playing a brass instrument, various parts of our body come into interaction:
- The mind (concentration)
- Producing a sound
All of the above should be effortless when doing a warm up. If you feel tense or stressed, rest a few minutes to clear up the mind.
Keep in mind, that sometimes it may take only a few minutes to get going, but somedays could take hours…Just be patient.
1. The mind – Focus and Concentration
To prepare yourself, be sure you are relaxed, with no back thought about having to pay the bills, or similar thoughts. Focus on getting ready to play… With positive thoughts.
2. Posture – Sit or stand up straight
Posture will greatly influence how we do any activity. When warming up, a good posture is important. Don’t sit back on the chair or on the sofa…
3. Breathing – Simple breathing exercises to relax the body
- Take a normal breath (through the mouth, relax the throat by putting the tongue on the bottom), then release the air without pushing – repeat until
- Take a bigger breath, same as above
- Take your biggest breath without choking (overfilled), then release as above
The idea of simple breath taking is to relax the body and mind. Keep focused on the air coming in, then just release without pushing the air out. Repeat this exercise until you feel relax, with no tension when breathing in.
In this breathing step, you can add other breathing exercises:
Breathing gym exercises
Breathing using breathing apparatus ( Respirometer, Breathing bag, etc.)
The idea is to get the air flowing as smooth as possible before going to the next step
4. Producing a sound – mouthpiece
This is where it gets interesting, my favourite part. Making a sound using the mouthpiece.
Take a breath, close up the lips lightly, naturally like closing the mouth.
Let the air out without pushing and expecting any sound at all… The idea is to let the lip vibrate by themselves… Focus only on letting the air out without pushing.
Repeat until the lips start to vibrate as a result of wind passing through the lips. Don’t expect a specific not or sound… Any sound is good.
Repeat a few times until sound is always produced unwillingly (without wanting to make a sound).
Think of saying poooh when releasing the air. (the p will help close up the lip)
Then rest a few minutes. Repeat this step as often as needed until a comfortable feeling is acquired. This step is the most important step, and should be repeated without stressing the lips.
Once successful with the above steps, then we can use our instrument and do step 4 again.