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Mendy Smith

The Ultimate Warm-up

December 11, 2007 at 5:15 AM

After a miserable jump into practicing right after work the other day (and Buri's textual slap on the back of the head for even trying), I came up with a different way of approaching practice time immediately after work. So, I tried this tonight, and it seems to work. I'll try this routine a few more times to see if it still holds true (or if I just had a lucky night tonight).

1- How Slow Can I Bow?
Bow all open strings as slowly as humanly possible
Bow double stops at the same excrutiatingly slow speed in perfect 5ths, 3rds & octaves
(This is almost like listening to Gregorian Chants...)

2 - How Smoothe is My Slide?
Yost exercises in a syrupy (or melted chocolate) kind of way

At this point, I should be thoroughly relaxed and NOT thinking about work at all. At least I was tonight...

3 - A Simple Second
I have problems still in second position. This exercise is to play a simple piece all in second position. Since it is the holidays, "The First Noel" works nicely.

4 - ~I have rhythm, who could ask for anything more?~
OK, cheezy, but to counter a few counting problems - simple 2 octave scales in different and varied rhythms. Tonight I chose the rhythm of "Hey Look Me Over - Consider Yourself at Home" (a piece my orchestra is playing in our next concert). By the way, it takes an IMMENSE amount of concentration to play a scale in a different key than the tune that you picked the rhythm from.

By the time I got done with this tonight, I was able to really start practicing Bruch intensly. Work was 200% behind me and I was in a musical frame of mind, warmed up and limbered up. It made me more aware that a focused repetative practice on trouble spots (Yost shifting, playing the notes in the troublesome position in a different sequence) is a more effective use of my time in correcting those errors rather than just trying to play the piece from beginning to end each and every time.

I know, I know... my teacher has told me this many many times. It just took a little slapping around and a fresh approach (and a deadline) to change my habit.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on December 11, 2007 at 9:41 AM
The Greensleeves tune, starting on D with 3rd finger on the G string, can also be done almost all in 2nd position.
From Sarah Leonard
Posted on December 11, 2007 at 12:21 PM
wow! This is really cool! Usually when I warm up, I start with several scales (major, melodic and harmonic minor) and do my "Carl Flesch" of the week. And then I like to do the first two pages of Schradieck. And then Kruetzer. And then I start on my rep.
But this is really cool. This is the kind of thing my teacher would like.... I think I shall show it to her...
From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on December 11, 2007 at 8:02 PM
Why would you torture yourself like this?
From Tommy Atkinson
Posted on December 11, 2007 at 9:04 PM
What a good idea of practicing second position! I find that, especially in orchestra playing, I use second position and fourth position a LOT for coloristic purposes (keeping things on one string or in position or something). Once I became really comfortable with second and fourth, I felt my level of playing improve like crazy.
From Bethany Morris
Posted on December 11, 2007 at 10:14 PM
I really never could figure out a good warm-up, so thank you so much for posting yours!
From Mendy Smith
Posted on December 12, 2007 at 4:19 AM
Night two and it is still working like it did last night. I was incredibly stressed out by the time I got off work, and this routine worked again in getting me into "music mode" quite quickly... :) Sticking with this one!
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on December 12, 2007 at 6:52 AM
Almost any tune in the key of F major is good to practice in the second position.
From Lawrence Price
Posted on December 13, 2007 at 3:04 PM
have been using the Edmond Agopian book, "The No Time To Practice Technique Companion" for a few months since I read about here on It is excellent. In a very short period of time one can get a comprehensive workout. I usually combine it with scales and a couple of Paganini Caprices.
From J Brunson
Posted on December 14, 2007 at 2:01 AM
Guess I'm lucky, I do my practice before work.... puts a nice positive spin on the day.
From Ray Randall
Posted on December 14, 2007 at 4:30 PM
After open string work, warming up with Yost shifting exercises geared to the scales I'll be working on then hitting those scales seems to work well.
So many notes, so little time.

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