Sunday, 11 November 2007

Suggestions for warming up

I play clarinet in my spare time, and this often implies that my practice sessions on the clarinet must be kept short.

I have worked out a method for warming up that takes usually 5 to 10 minutes. I want to share it with you hoping that you would like to comment, make suggestions or share your own method.

First of all I randomly choose one key (I use a 12 faced dice). Then I use my computer to play a very long note (10 minutes) in the tonic of the chosen key. This will be a reference for the whole warming up session.

I start playing long notes (usually a scale a very very slow tempo). Then I practice the following two exercises, transposed in the chosen key, with the metronome.

Download exercise on major scales (PDF)
Download exercise on broken chords in minor key (PDF)

The reasons why I found these two exercises very useful are:

  • They are very very easy to memorize, so I do not need to look at a printed sheet and can concentrate on listening
  • They include longer notes surrounding faster notes, which is a good to improve technique and hearing at the same time
  • They span over the whole clarinet range
  • The scale exercise is also an interesting rhytmic exercise, you can also try playing the faster notes staccato
  • The chord exercise is based on intervals of third (both major and minor) and sixth (both major and minor), which provide a great practice for both intonation and technique
  • They allow for hundreds of variations, both in phrasing, rhythm and note patterns

I recommend to always use the metronome and to dare to start with a slow and comfortable tempo. Both exercises can give you an impression to be very easy, but then when you get to play in difficult keys or over the registry junctions you might get into trouble. So you should put the metronome to the fastest tempo in which you can manage the most difficult passages.

As my teacher always says, always practice precision. Once you know how to play precisely, then playing fast is not a big challenge anymore...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done Paolo!
It has been a nice idea to start a blog like this.
About warming up, I think your suggestions are fine. I have found the Osborn's exercices very useful as well. Take a look at the following URL:

Best wishes
Teresio Alberto