My Current Warm Up Routine

One of the most often-asked questions for musicians is “How do you warm up?” (followed closely by “What’s your setup?” – but that’s an article for another day). A lot of people have recently been asking about my warm up, so I thought I’d share my current routine.

I think warmups and breakfast have a lot in common. The old adage of the most important meal of the day rings true for warmups, which I consider the most important part of your practice routine. Also, there are varying degrees of warmups, from short and efficient (the breakfast equivalent of grabbing a granola bar as you run out the door), average (your everyday breakfast), to more indulgent (which might be more similar to a full English breakfast with bacon, eggs, toast, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and other treats). Finally, warmups should be individualized according to each musician’s schedule, technical abilities, and personal tastes (just like your breakfast preferences).

For my warm up, I use two books:

  • Paul Jeanjean Vade-Mecum du Clarinettiste
  • Carl Baermann Complete Method for Clarinet, Division 3

I also do long tones every day, but I play these from memory and often change the exercises depending on my current repertoire. I also change long tones when I become complacent (dare I say…bored?) so that I have to give the new long tones my full attention, thus reaping the maximum long tone rewards. My favorite long tone exercises are fulcrum studies and the “Hasty” long tones (not because I play them hastily, but because they are attributed to Stanley Hasty).

It’s important to note that I ALWAYS use a metronome during my warmup (and 90% of my practice routine). Also, the times are estimates and change according to the tempi I take during my warmup and the flexibility of my fingers on the given day. Although an adequate warmup need only be 10-20 minutes, my longer routine is reserved for days when I have more time and want to work on more in-depth scale and technical studies. Finally, the warmups below are the exercises I have used most often during the last year, but I sometimes use other exercises from the same books according to my mood, current repertoire, and technical weaknesses.


5-Minute Quick Warm Up

  • Long tones
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 1 (“Special trills”) MM=120

20-Minute Normal Warm Up

  • Long tones
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 1 (“Special trills”) MM=120
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 2 or 3 (left and right hand exercises) varying tempi (I alternate between LH one day, RH the next)
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 4 “Allegro” tonguing exercise varying tempi
  • Baermann scales No 1 MM=80-120

45-Minute Intensive Warm Up

  • Long tones
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 1 (“Special trills”) MM=120
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 2 and 3 (left and right hand exercises) varying tempi
  • Vade-Mecum Etude 4 “Allegro” tonguing exercise varying tempi
  • Baermann scales No 1 MM=80-120
  • Baermann scales No 2 MM=80-120
  • Baermann scales No 4 MM=80-120
  • Baermann scales No 8 MM=80-120

Warmups set the tone (literally and figuratively) for your overall practice routine, so it’s important to find a routine that works for you. It doesn’t have to be long, but your fingers, lungs, and embouchure should feel adequately prepared to tackle whatever other music you need to practice. Finding your perfect warm up routine takes time and dedication, but it’s well worth it to improve as a musician.

 

One thought on “My Current Warm Up Routine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.