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The Importance of Warming Up

What are the primary benefits to warming up properly?

When you warm up properly, you will have a significantly more focused and productive practice session. You want to warm up your body and mind.

Joints are stiff when not warmed up. When they are stiff, they move and feel different. There are 4 main points about the value of being warmed up:

  1. It’s important not to begin your practice sessions with something that is technically challenging because you will be “cold” and less capable of success and this will increase the likelihood of failed attempts. Your failed attempts at playing certain things will not only reinforce poor performance but it will lengthen the time it takes to consistently play something correct and will make your practice session much less efficient.
  2. Your body will partially remember the additional effort it takes to complete many physical motions. For example shifting, vibrato, string crossings, achieving certain dynamics, finger placement etc. If you body is taught an abnormal amount of effort, it’ll make teaching your body the correct amount, even harder because once you are warmed up, you’ll have to re-teach your body how to feel. Therefore, teach your body music while you are in what would be considered a “normal” state. If you are practicing at least an hour, you will spend a lot more time playing warmed up then cold.
  3. Avoid injury. If you practice quick and difficult passages without being warmed up, you risk injuring yourself. The most elastic and pliable your joints are, the less likely they are to rip and tear.
  4. Also, you need to engage your musical mind. You will become more alert and sharp as you warm up. Once your mind is more engaged, you will have a tendency to play more in tune more consistently.

Your warm-up session is a valuable time that you can SAFELY improve certain abilities on your stringed instrument. You are playing slow, and playing the least difficult music, so you have ample opportunity to play correctly AND to stretch/warm-up your body.

You can work on such things as:

  • Intonation. Play scales to learn good intonation. If you are a beginner, put tape on your violin for where your fingers go. Scales are an excellent opportunity for your mind to become adjusted to listening very intently to the pitch you are creating. This also gives your fingers a chance to warm up and stretch. Make sure to use the 4th finger as much as possible. You should always use 4th finger for your scales because using this digit greatly increases the speed at which you can warm up and helps increase your reach for everything else on the violin. You can also compare the 4th finger with your open string to check your intonation.
  • Improving technique: Playing exercises in thirds or octaves, bowing exercises or vibrato.
  • Learn easier music: You have some fun Bach, duets or orchestra music to practice? Do that before the really hard stuff!