Friday, October 7, 2011

Warming Up

Until I took up the horn I never gave much thought to warming up. On the piano, guitar, flute and cello I just play a few easy things, more to get my mind focused on the task at hand than to limber muscles. With voice there is always doing things in the middle range before trying to hit high notes, but again, just doing a few easy pieces fits the bill. If the goal is to be a high level player, then things get more complicated, but just playing for enjoyment doesn't need to entail extensive warming up, as long as you pay attention during the beginning of each session.

The horn, though, is a different beast altogether, and not warming up properly can have huge downsides in simply not being able to play well or for very long. This post by James Boldin is a good one on some of the issues of horn warm-up. 

Reading and thinking about James's post lead me to remember that the "warm up" for Buddhist spiritual practice, whether attending a dharma talk or a solo meditation, is reviewing and "setting" the motivation. In most of what's been written about musical warm ups, the focus is on the physical aspects. Taking a little time at the beginning of each practice session to think about what you're trying to accomplish, and why you're trying to accomplish it, can be valuable as well.

Physical technique is very important, but there's a lot else involved in making music, and calling some of that to mind at the beginning of each practice session can bring more balance of all the elements to the endeavor.

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