Sunday, May 3, 2009

Warming Up

Bruce over at Horndog blog was good enough to answer some questions I had about warming up on horn, down in the comments to this post of his.

All the instructional materials I've found talk about the warm up and how important it is, but none actually explain what is happening physiologically. They give all kinds of things to do, but don't talk about why or how those particular exercises work. I've essentially been starting over with the horn, and rethinking all the aspects of playing, and that led me to realizing how little I understand what warming up is actually is all about. And not being a natural player, the more I understand what I'm trying to do, the better chance I have of doing it.

I'd always thought starting with low and sustained notes was the way to go, but here lately starting in the middle and working out, with lots of tongued notes in the mix with all the slurs seems to be working a lot better. I've also noticed that practicing the flute first for 40 minutes or so takes care of about 80% of the horn warm up. 

Something else I've noticed is that having a balanced mix of sound from p to ff helps me keep things focused. Also, taking a few 20 to 30 second breaks early on seems to be helpful.

As to explaining what the warm up does, for now I'd say it involves increased blood flow, better proprioception and muscular control of the lips and embouchure, along with better proprioception and limbering up of all the physical elements involved playing the horn - diaphragm, throat and tongue, fingers on keys and hand in bell, etc. Playing music involves a lot of feedback loops, on both the conscious and
unconscious levels, and in and among the physical, mental, emotional and, sometimes, the spiritual levels. The warm up is getting all of that up and running in an orderly way.

No comments:

Post a Comment