Warming UpRead Now
Why is warming up important?
A good warm up can encourage good habits to persist through a day of practice. It can also fire up our hands and playing for a performance.
A performance is often greatly affected (for better or worse) by the warm up you do the day of that performance.
I have heard of others experiencing something similar to the following scenario, and have also experienced this myself:
You work hard for many months preparing a program of pieces for a recital (or exam or casual performance, etc.). When you play it at home, everything goes accordingly - your hands do what you want them to do and the music just comes out naturally.
But then along comes the day of the performance. You only have about 30 minutes in the morning to warm up, because the rest of the day involves preparing your gear, traveling, sound checking, waiting, etc. etc... So in those 30 minutes, you quickly scramble through your pieces and just hope that your hands will be ready to play them come the time of performance.
So you're on stage now and about to play. Your hands feel like blocks of ice. You start the program and it's nothing like it sounded when you played it at home. Your hands just don't cooperate. Your program goes by, and by the end of it your hands feel great. But now the performance is over!
What if you had been practicing a set of warm up exercises that made your hands resilient to any situation - a set of exercises that enabled your playing in that above scenario to be on fire, allowing your musical voice to shine out rather than having your technique interfere with it. How would your performance go in that case?
I can testify from experience that the outcome would be very different. A good set of warm up exercises that you practice consistently (daily) has exponential pay off.
So what are some types of exercises to warm up with that guitarists tend to neglect?
1) Open String Exercises
2) Shifting Exercises
3) Scales in Bursts
You often hear guitarists who complain about how difficult certain aspects of guitar playing are (I used to be one of those people). Many guitarists say that things like making a really beautiful tone, shifting, fast scale passages and barring (i.e. the topics of this online course) are really difficult.
But do guitarists make it a primary concern to practice such things in isolation each day? I don't think guitarists generally do!!! To my knowledge, there is currently no standard system for practicing the more challenging aspects of guitar playing.
When you start practicing these fundamental exercises, then your musical voice can start to shine through. Technique no longer interferes with your music-making, but rather it enhances it. After all, that is the purpose of technique - to serve and enhance the music.
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Dr. Daniel Nistico is a passionate performer, author and educator who specializes in the performance practice of 18th and 19th century guitar music. Daniel's teaching and research aims to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician, with emphasis on topics like harmony that can lead to deeper musical understanding and provide tools for composing and improvising.