Warming Up Before
Music Practice

Warming up before music practice of any kind will save you tons of time and can actually prevent injuries. Most people think I'm joking when I say that, but it's true. I have several friends who have hurt themselves (though admittedly they weren't life threatening injuries) just by trying to play a really hard song before they warmed up. Hyper-extending a finger is not too uncommon.

Aside from just injuries though, warming up helps you have a more efficient practice and a more professional show. Most people hate warming up because they think it's a waste. If they only knew the things we're going to talk about, they'd probably change their tune.

Warming up involves more than just loosening up your fingers and walking on stage. Here are some favorites of mine.


  • Exercise! - That's right. Good ol' exercise. Before I practice I like to do some simple stretches and maybe a few push ups. This may seem normal if you're a drummer, or a little overboard if you play piccolo. It really is practical though, for two reasons.
  1. Stretching the larger muscle groups such as the arms and the chest will help your technique by relaxing your whole body and loosening any tension.
  2. Stretching and doing some exercises with the larger muscle groups gets more blood flowing, and thus more oxygen flowing to your fingers (or lungs).
  • Stretching the Hands - There are a couple of things I do here.
  1. Start with your palms facing away from you. Now take your right hand and grasp the four fingers of your left hand together and gently pull back. Hold for a few seconds and release. Now grab the palm part of your hand and bend it down and hold. Do this with both hands.
  2. Now put your hands together and spread your fingers apart. Fold both of your index fingers down, first to one side, then to the other. Now do this with the two middle fingers, then ring fingers, etc.

Scales and Arpeggios

  • Scales - Ah yes, the tried and true tradition. There is a reason everyone has been telling you to practice scales: THEY WORK! They are a simple way to get your fingers used to moving the way they are supposed to. They also do hundreds of things such as improving your intonation and speed etc, but that's for a whole different article (or a book).
  • Arpeggios - These are a great step up from the boring scales. Since arpeggios can be based on any chords, there are thousands of different variations you can do with these. Again, these might belong in that book.

Other random warm ups

  • Slow Songs - Starting out with the slow pretty tunes gives your hands a chance to ease in to their work. These may not be as fun as the fast tunes, but if you start with these, I promise the fast tunes will sound better later.
  • Slow Fast Songs - ??? Here's something most people don't expect. Try taking some of the songs that you normally play fast, and play them slow instead. I bet you'll be surprised how hard it is. This is also a bit of a brain warm up since you have to concentrate a little harder on the timing.
  • Songs in Different Keys - This one is purely a brain warm up. Try taking a song you're decently familiar with, and try playing it in a different key. If you have been practicing your SCALES (ahem..) like you should, then this won't be impossible. It will be hard, but not impossible.

These exercises are all harder than they look if you do them correctly (except the stretches; those are pretty much straightforward). The more of these warm ups you do before you practice/perform, the better you will sound. Guaranteed.

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Hope this helps! Practice hard and let me know if you have any questions!

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