December 20, 2009 at 4:54 AM
Let's say you arrive to the performance -- or to your lesson -- with less than 10 minutes to warm up. What will you play?
I can be honest in saying that I'd play a Galamian three-octave acceleration scale, with a number of bowings (slurred, detache, spiccato, ricochet and sometimes up and down-bow staccato). I really do find my scale routine to be relaxing.
Do you have any interesting warm-up rituals? Please vote, and share your thoughts below.
I'm embarassed to say--lots of long bows on open strings, WATCHING IN THE MIRROR. Then a bit of Bach to relax.
For me it is open strings as well, Francesca! Let's call it the Philosophers' Warmup. And scales, of course. Or if there is a short difficult passage in the stuff I'm currently studying I'll sometimes practice that very slowly. However, that's not warming up per se, but taking advantage of a fresh mind.
Another great question, Laurie!
I play the Handel "Largo," slowly, one bow per measure, with a moderately full tone. I can observe bow speed, vibrato depth and frequency, left hand position and placement of shifts in upper positions, breathing, and the enjoyment of playing great music all at the same time; makes me feel like a musician and part of a great tradition of playing the violin.
If I have very little time to warm up I usually start out by stretching out my fingers/wrist/arms (something that most people I know don't do, but helps a lot imo), then play a 2-octave G major scale slowly using the whole bow to help relax my right arm, then I do left-hand pizzicato and trill exercises to get my fingers warmed up.
I do one set open string long bows followed by one time G arpeggios up as high as I can go then down. Then I spend the rest of the time doing bits and pieces of a lot of things and some improvisation. Usually it is Mozart, Bach,Kreisler, Dont, Mendelsohhn, Brahms. Schubert, Vivaldi, Tartini and any other things I can do about 8 measures of off the cuff.
I'd check the tempo and key signature of each movement of the piece I was playing in the performance, and remind myself how each one is going to start. Then if I still had time, I'd go to the page turns and make sure I remembered what was coming on the next page if it didn't get turned in time. And then, if I still had time, I'd go to the hard parts of the piece and give them a once-through on the instrument. I'd find it distracting to play a scale, arpeggio, or other piece so close to the performance.
I play a four octave chromatic scale beginning on the open G. I start slowly and then increase the speed. This gives the violin a chance to speak on every note that I will play. If I have time, then I will play four octave scales.
Long bows (sometimes recurves.. ha!). I am learning some new bowing exercises, so I refresh my mind with what I want and am suppose to do when bowing. I use a full length mirrror also. Then work on pieces incorporating what I am learning.
PS: Go Wyo! Beat Fresno Bulldogs in double overtime!!!!! Yippeee!!!!!!!!!!
"Powder River Let'er Buck!"
In case of emergency, I do this sort of noodle:
I stole this from a couple of cellists I admired, warming up like this. I think it is a Starker thing, but I could be wrong. It's fun, relaxing, and you can do a chromatic pattern, or a keyed pattern. Vibrato, senza vibrato, or a mix. The flexibility is useful!
I picked scales, but lately I've been in the habit of doing chromatic and whole tone tetrachords. I go up and down four notes and do a half step shift. Helps me remind myself of half step spacing as I get higher on the fingerboard.
I also just read Ricci's Glissando book (great read!) and have been doing chromatic double stop scales and the "shiftless" scale (start on first finger and shift on the same finger whenever you get to a half step).
Open Strings --> Finger articulation exercises --> Vibrato using a lyrical passage of the piece I would be playing.
Reading the comments, it's clear that a quick warmup for a performance would have different content than a quick lesson warmup. But it makes me wonder--how often do people have a chance to warm up right before their lesson? I live just down the block from my teacher, so theoretically I could warm up at home. But more often than not, I'm trying to finish some substantial piece of computer work before my lesson. Usually I get a chance to warm up at my teacher's house but I could never figure out if that was incidental or she was building that into her schedule.
I chose scales, since I always warm up with them before my lessons.
However, if I had fewer than 10 minutes to warm up before a performance, I'm pretty sure I'd warm up with whatever piece I was going to perform.
long bows too since I can't put a finger on the fingerboard at first, they are freezing and it's painful (kind of num and sensitive as when you are outdoors in winter). Then sort of independance exercise for the two hands where I do full slow bow while doing vibrato the widest possible. (looks ridiculous but it is really tough lol) after scales etc (but the 10 min would be past by when I start scales...)
My teacher, Raoul Poliakin (Concert Master of the RCA orchestra in the 50's) taught me what he called his "friends". These were all of the open string notes fingered on each string. For example, on the G string, play the A and D in first postion, the the D and E in 3rd position, then the E and G in 5th position, etc. And repeat this for each string listening for the corresponding open string to vibrate to assure that you are perfectly in tune. This is a great ear training technique as well as a wonderful short warm up!
Don (Brian's Dad)
Francesca, you're right. I also don't get much of a chance to warm up before my lesson. Sometimes I'll go to the bathroom in the school and run my fingers under warm water, if I have time. But usually I'm rushing to the lesson from work or other, getting off the T, etc. My teacher will then have me play a scale in the key of the piece I'm working on, slowly, to listen. But even then, what I've noticed is that "warming up" the mind seems to be the most important thing--that is, going over what issues I want to bring up, questions I want to ask, passages I'm having trouble with, etc. It's better to be going to my lesson on the T or the bus so that I can do this, rather than driving.
I usually warm up with playing 4ths as an intonation exercise, as well as octave shifting with each finger on each string.
The "open string concerto" and Schradieck #1 on a variety of strings.
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