Using Bach S&p for warm up?!

Edited: March 28, 2018, 4:06 AM · Hello everyone

The other day i was reviewing
Galamian's principles of violin playing&teaching
And i came to this paragraph when he says:

There is no necessity to have a set pattern for the sequence of practice material. (Scales-etudes-repertoire) there is no reason why this order shouldn't be modified and practice started with pieces and ended with scales as long as all of the work is done that should be accomplished...

Now my question is; when i read interviews with famous Violinists or i follow random musicians on instagram i see too many of them referring to Bach's S&P as a good warm up for beginning the day.i personally spend my first 2 parts of daily practice on stretches&warm ups and basical elements even before beginning to practice my scale and it effects the way i practice my scale. I have much better bow control and left hand frame and intonation become much better with less fault.long story short; I'll have a more beneficial practice session this way compared to just picking up my instrument and trying to play Presto in G minor.i want to know about different opinions.by this i mean your daily practice routine not orchestra rehearsals or practising with pianist.

1)do you directly move on to practice your repertoire(as James Ehnes said; i never practice scales and studies from books) without spending any time on scales-basics-etudes? Do you have a history of injury by doing this or it works well for you this way?

2)do you manage your time to work on both techniques and repertoire and if yes; how many percent of your daily time on which aspect? (Techniques or repertoire?)

3)are you agree with Mr.G about not having a set pattern for practice sequence?

P.S: it's Nowruz holidays in Iran so happy new year and wish you a beautiful spring; may all of us think about ourselves and become better human beings like how nature renewes itself.

Many thanks/

Replies (23)

Edited: March 28, 2018, 4:08 AM · One thing to keep in mind is that what works for someone like James Ehnes might not work for you. Hilary Hahn practices Bach S&P every day, but she's learned them all, a long time ago, very thoroughly, and she can play them in her sleep. I recommend you don't start with material that is at the edge of your skill horizon.
March 28, 2018, 4:58 AM · Bach, like the finest champagne, can be both aperitif and digestif. It is also delightful alone.
Edited: March 28, 2018, 6:27 AM · I warm up with Bach now and it is working well for me. I stay with movements in the E major and D minor partitas that I can play from memory.

As Paul mentioned, you should warm up with material that is well within your technical reach.

March 28, 2018, 6:23 AM · Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak!
March 28, 2018, 6:50 AM · I will second Paul's comments. To them Bach's S&P's is like twinkles to me.

In my opinion:
1) You want to warm up with something simple so you won't get tense up doing it while it has wide enough variety of finger or arm movements so you can properly warm up all the muscles involved. Sometime I will warm up using a simple etude, other times I will do SHORT segments of boring technical drills (for example: detache, vibrato, shift, ...) to warm up a group of muscles at one time.

2) On one of her Youtube videos, Lara St. John said that you want to spend about 1/3 of your time doing basic stuff (scale, techniques, etc.) I try to follow that. Take this only as a guideline, though. Everyone is different.

3) I kind of agree with Galamian's comments in that if you always do things the same way, your mind will get bored and you will practice mindlessly. However, a certain structure of your practice is also needed for efficient practice sessions. I usually have a routine for about a week then I will review to see if anything needs to be changed (or my teacher will give me new assignments so that it has to change).

March 28, 2018, 8:08 AM · "Bach, like the finest champagne, can be both aperitif and digestif. It is also delightful alone."

I may have this engraved on my tombstone.

March 28, 2018, 8:45 AM · You can use Bach sonatas & partitas for warm up, for the main part of your practice session, for testing instruments, checking new strings etc. Life is extremely short, so after opening the violin case, play whatever you feel like.
March 28, 2018, 9:08 AM · I don't see anything special about using Bach to warm up. I always found that playing in high positions warmed me up better anyway. Especially if you have to perform up there.

It's also valuable to be able to train yourself to NOT to need warm up because this situation can come up. It's happened many times for me, and having to warm up for extended periods can turn into a psychological crutch. Traffic or snowstorms has caused me to run onstage at the last second. So has forgetting my tails at the hotel. Audition orders can mysteriously reverse and your number can be called. I've had to play college teaching auditions jet-lagged and with little scheduled warm up time. And lots of wedding gigs with no warm up.

March 28, 2018, 10:21 AM · Pablo Casals would play some of the Bach Cello Suites every day, but then he practically re-discovered them. I'm just a mariachi fiddler, we leave our cases in the car, tune in the parking lot, and vocal warm-up is a shot of tequila. Last Saturday evening we played outside , in the cold, for 4 hours. :-) jq
March 28, 2018, 10:52 AM · Paul:thank you and you're right.

Eric: what a romantic explanation!

David: when did you begin to work on Bach S&P for the first time? How much does it take for you to at least play those movements with what you call acceptable command under your belt?

Marry Ellen: thank you so much!

Peter: thanks for your thorough answer.

Hermes: so true...

Scott: word by word out of experience. I won't forget. Thanks.

Joel:lots of fun I'll try that method of warm up! Cheers!

Edited: March 29, 2018, 7:12 AM · "David: when did you begin to work on Bach S&P for the first time? How much does it take for you to at least play those movements with what you call acceptable command under your belt?"

I learned and performed from memory these selected movements as a teenager. I revisited them last year upon returning to the instrument after 25 years.

March 28, 2018, 3:35 PM · What is the purpose of warm-up procedure?
I guess to warm-up, or to bring your muscles. tendons and nerves into a workable state.
Using Bach's music for this is, in my opinion, a sacrilege and a total disrespect for the composer.
March 28, 2018, 6:40 PM · As others have mentioned the scale-etude-repertoire sequence, Bach could be before or after the etude, just to get things going and further relax your muscles.

My two go-to movements are usually the Largo or the Andante - they are so peaceful and puts yourself in a "zen" mood, if you will. However, any of the fast movements would also do wonders as well.

March 28, 2018, 9:34 PM · Eric Won: "Bach, like the finest champagne, can be both aperitif and digestif. It is also delightful alone."

I am so using that sentence from now on...

My father used to say: "Anything before Bach, is unnecessary. Everything after Bach, is superfluous"
He liked to shock people by hyperbolic statements :-)

March 29, 2018, 5:29 AM · I am with Rocky on this. I use scales for warmup. For me, this is particularly necessary because I alternate between violin and vla, and I need the scales to get the spacing of the fingers back in the groove for the particular instrument. However, if you are going to play the S&Ps or the Cello Suites on vla, you want to be fully warmed up to do justice to them, IMHO.
March 29, 2018, 5:56 AM · My warm-up: First, basic left-hand finger exercises in 3rd position, then 1st, about 5 minutes -- e.g., Sevcik, Schradieck, Dancla -- to open up the hand. Next, vibrato exercises -- equal time on each finger -- to relax the hand.

Then basic exercises in higher positions -- 5th and up. Shifts and double-stops round out the day's initial warm-up, which runs about 20 minutes. I don't start scales till I've thoroughly stretched and warmed up this way. In subsequent playing sessions the same day, I can do with far less warm-up -- provided that the room has air warm and moist enough for instant hand grip and reliable traction.

Bottom line: I do basic drills first and take the fun stuff -- etudes, Bach, other repertoire -- afterward.

March 29, 2018, 7:51 AM · Rocky:thank you for your input.

Tom: i was curious about the frame issue. Some say it isn't a problem and some say it's hard to switch especially from viola to Violin.

Carlos: kudos to your father :)

Jim: thank you for sharing your approach.

March 29, 2018, 8:23 AM · I like the G minor presto as a warm up. It has an etude quality.

March 29, 2018, 8:54 AM · Mohammad - there are aspects to the switch that are easy and aspects that are hard. Leaving aside the problem of the clef, which remains for many of us an issue even after playing both for some years, the technique for both instruments is deceptively similar. The finger spacing is somewhat greater on the vla, and the distance between the positions is also greater. The vla is larger and heavier. All of these things create issues for violinists like me who took up vla later. It takes a while to get reasonably comfortable on both.
March 29, 2018, 10:06 AM · "My father used to say: "Anything before Bach, is unnecessary. Everything after Bach, is superfluous"
He liked to shock people by hyperbolic statements :-)"

I have a better one: "there is German music...and there is BAD music."

"Using Bach's music for this is, in my opinion, a sacrilege and a total disrespect for the composer. "
That's rather silly. Bach was just a composer, not a deity.

March 29, 2018, 4:39 PM · One of the "doubles" played at a tempo you can easily manage would be a fine etude.
March 29, 2018, 5:18 PM · Jacques Thibaud used the E Major Preludio-- hence the opening movement of Ysaye's Sonata #2.
Edited: March 30, 2018, 8:09 AM · I often wonder if the particular Ysaye sonata is considered a sacrilege or disrespect by some.

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