How do you warm up?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Tyler_W, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. Tyler_W


    Jun 15, 2005
    Woodbridge, VA
    So.. how do you warm up before you really start to play at full speed?

    My concert band teacher makes us play this

  2. When practicing, I warm up by playing long open strings for about five minutes, then scales for up to half an hour.

    In school, our warm up often consists of a short Bach chorale or contata.
  3. I've just started on double bass/eub (I know their not the same, but I don't have a db at home so my ergo is for practice), but I do the same thing as I do to warmup for electric practice. First I do a nice range of stretching I learned from my powerlifting days for upper body, just good slow full range stretching for triceps, biceps, pectoral, lats, and neck, and then some forearm massaging and some hand stretching, then I just do my Ionian from the C to Locrian, doing all the modes moving up the fingerboard forwards and backwards nice and slow, then do it in 3rd's forwards and backwards nice and slow. Keeping time with a metronome of course. It's boring, but it works fine.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I shake my hands vigorously for a few seconds. Then I just touch the strings to the finger board to remind my little brain how little pressure is required to stop a string. I'll play some ugly, random notes to get the bow warmed up, and then go.
  5. I gotta ask, since your profile lists that your are a instructor, what sort of warmup instructions do you teach your students?
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I haven't really discussed it too much with that many students -- I dont' get asked the question too often. I believe most of being 'cold' or 'warm' is mental, anyhow, but also understand it really seems to benefit some folks to have some kind of warmup. If they ask I'll tell them what I do and what others folks have reported. I'll bring it up if a student is having physical problems for which I can't otherwise pinpoint the cause.

    For me, extra long connective tissue runs in the family, so for me stretching only stresses my tendons. So I really can't discuss the benefits of stretching with any real experience. I find that the shaking thing that I do (but not always) kinda rushes the blood out to my hands and I feel like I've been playing for a while from the first note.

    If your bass is set up well and you have studied your technique -- including of getting rid of tension and proper 'body use' (to be AT about it) -- it shouldn't be that physical.

  7. Interesting, it's quite different than what I learned from weight lifting about proper preparation from my instructors and coaches, especially the part about being cold or warm, do your hands have the same dexterity when you first touch the instrument as they do when you've been playing for an hour or two? I feel like after an hour of actual playing I'm finally starting to loosen up physically. I'm not any sort of expert or pro athlete, but I did track and field, powerlifting, and football in highschool, then a stint in the marines, and continue to lift weights off and on as my schedule changes, so my parts, as it were, are mildly worn, even at 28. I find that a good long warmup for me both has increased my endurance, and helped prevent injury. For example, alot of my friends that I go and play with just don't have the same stamina, many of them are younger and play just as often, but cannot play for the same 3 to 4 hour duration without extended breaks, which I attribute to moderate physical preparation. I could just be stubborn. It doesn't have anything to do with aerobic fitness, i'm getting a bit flabby honestly, but I've conditioned my playing muscles from both practice and good warmup. At least thats how I view it, maybe I'm just lucky and stubborn to boot. :) Anyways, the main reason I do it, is I've always had to properly stretch to prevent injury, having learned early on with some severe muscle strains, I was never very flexible, and have several permanent injury's to rotator cuff, fingers, and elbows from various sources. To each his own, i guess I just have that warmup mentality drilled into my head from all those years under my weight lifting coaches tutelage, it might just be brainwashing. Good luck.
  8. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I like the idea of doing long bow strokes or simandl in the beginning. Not so much to get my physical side warmed up, but more to warm up my ears/intonation in gear. If I'm lazy I just go into a blues in some key that already know well to get into the groove. I guess the only stretching I've been doing these days has been the stuff for CTS and that's usually after I'm finished practicing.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have a warm-up that could tire-out the average player but a 2-3hr symphony rehearsal requires that I be ready to play on beat '1'.

    Here's what I do. I play in a single bow F-F(major) starting on the E-string repeating the octave and comming down F-F with an up Bow (8 notes to a bow). Then staying in the Key of F with only one flat (Bb) I play G-G, A-A all the way up to F-F, 6th position on the G. Then I start down either in the same order of notes I went up OR start on the higher note and finish on the higher note with each scale. Some would call this 'playing modes' which it is BUT I am only playing F-major starting on each note mentally,

    I play it at about 4 notes = 60 or a little faster (For Bow control and/or intonation practice play it slower. The bowings are less important if you are working on your intonation).This warms up my left hand mostly. I also play the opening to the Dragonetti, Eccles, Largo (Dvor., New World Symphony) on the lower strings playing up the E and A or normal positions and also the first exercies I mentioned but in the key of G in addition to F.

    This can and should be played in every Key but then I would have to go home tired b4 rehearsal even starts. Do the other Keys at home. It's a nice work-out for the fingers as well as the mind. It keeps you thinking about the key signature, the fingerings/positions as they change on every scale and as the intervals as far as 'half-step/whole-step' as you move up and down playing in groups of 2 in position or in shifts. Try it in Ab just for kicks after doing it in F and see the difference with the mental part.

    This can be a 5-10 minute warm-up. Now the fingers are loose, the Bow is smooth, etc..,take a break, shake out your hands, then get a drink of water, go to the 'can' and get back on stage and look over the music....

    BTW, ask Don Z about my warm-up Scale/modes. I showed it to him one day and now he uses it to warm-up as well.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Mutant, I'm glad that this works for you and I wouldn't even consider talking you into changing your ways. I'll comment, though, that if your buddies are tired after three or four hours of playing, they are doing something wrong. Maybe exclude trumpet and oboe from that comment :)

    I've played four-hour SETS without any physical discomfort, only aesthic agony from the noise -- as these happen as the house bass player at the Cleopatra's jam sessions when no bass players come in. And, when this has happened, it's after a number of hours of practicing during the day at home and often a 3-4 gig beforethe session. Keep in mind that I've brought myself back from a case of tendonitis, where I couldn't play more than a few hours per week just a few years ago.
  11. Guys, i am intrigued. I pull a face if someone asks me to play anything fast straight from cold. If I've warmed up, then things are fine, if not, it hurts and that ain't good.

    I'd like to know what Brian Bromberg does, coz apart from his exceptional chops I'm sure I read that he thought he'd ruined (can't tell can you?) his hands by not warming up and now alawys does. This might have been in bass player mag - can't remember - but I generally remember things on warm-up.

    I have to acheive fourthings: remind my body where the notes are, relax mentally, get the hands/tendons whatever moving by starting slow, remove physical tension. Then I'm fine with anything (I can aleady play that is!) no matter what's going on around me. Otherwise it's pain and frustration which breed more frustration as I try harder etc.

    Other than the mental comfort that comes with having a warm up routine that puts you in a familiar place, I suspect there are many ways of going about it in terms of what you play and it doesn't matter what too much.

    As for bassmutant's warm up stretches, I think this has merit. People have posted many simmilar things related to martial arts here before. I went around asking a lot sports people and my weight training brother about all this and they told me simmilar things.

    One extra thing though, is apparently a lot of the movements in playing DB start at the shoulder muscles - not the arms. I think it pays to consider this.

    I always pay great attention to Ray, but his situation is not like a lot of us here, who whilst we might play every day, are not playing to the extent and with the frequency and talent of Ray. I think this means that we may have to be more careful about warm up and preparation than he does, as he is maintaining a constant high level of activity and a lot of us have gaps at work or whatever. I suspect his students might all be of a play-all-day level also.

    However, having said that, my understanding is that thoughts on stretching for activities that do not require stretching (running for instance) is changing and these are not seen as so necesary. Warming muscles to avoid cramps is another matter.

    Thoughts anyone - Ray? Brian B if we are lucky!
  12. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Yeah sort of like Ken I've still got a battery of warmup exercises from my teacher that easily sponge 30 min. or more of my time. Great stuff, but I've made it my own now and can only show I follow it in spirit if not in letter.

    Warmup is something that you'll get a full spectrum of advice for...there are even philosophies surrounding warmup as an endurance exercise that must last 2 hours without the player stopping, while alternating scales, phrases and bowings ranging from the most basic to the most advanced...and then breaking for another hour before working on what you've really got your bass for.

    It's a funny animal.

    Personally, I'd say that if you're already playing with a group (or solo), then you can focus on warmup as something that exclusively gets you geared up for could be a 10 sec. prayer you say LOL. But if you're a beginner or player with little performing experience/opportunities at the moment I'd recommend warmup as a much larger body of structured material designed to guarantee that you aren't neglecting the must-have techniques for the music you intend to play in the future.
  13. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Ray, could you elaborate on your tendonitis recovery?

  14. I was wondering if you could answer that question I asked about dexterity though, it's mainly for my own curiosity, do you have the same level of dexterity when you first touch the instrument as you do after lets say, an hour of playing? I'm just curious about the nature of warmup's being extremely player specific, vs. having some blanket advice, which i've been giving for a few years now, and may not be correct. As another example, one of my friends from highschool and the marines, could put both his palms on the floor from a straight leg position, and never warmed up, never had muscle related strains from any activity, it always intrigued me as to why. I've never had tendonitis thankfully, and hear that it is extremely debilitating, hopefully you can completely recover. Cheers.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    To answer the last two:

    Alexander Technique is how I pulled outof the mess. AT starts physical, but ends up with some pretty profound philosophical stuff.

    As for the dexterity thing, that is what shaking my hands out does. I shake the piss out of each hand in turn, for about five or six seconds. Shake 'em hard enough until I can feel the blood rushing back out of them when I stop. Then when I touch the bass it feels like I've been playing all day. If I don't do that, the first few minutes of playing can feel a little stiff'n mean sometimes, but playing jazz bass mainly, I can allow the 5,000 choruses of whatever tune that I have to bang 1/4 notes out on to do the warming up for me. :)
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just let me say from personal experience, Ray has the same level of dexterity after driving from Toledo to NYC that he does after an hour of playing. He came and sat in on a gig of mine after making that drive; literally. Drove, parked, walked in as we finished a tune, I asked him if he wanted to play, he got up and sounded great.
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't know if you noticed, but I was shaking out the chops as I walked up to take the bass...knowing that I was going to have to play a different setup -- and setup for dem hamfists :)
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I either didn't notice or it didn't register.

    Hey, you gotta check out my "new" bass, Jeff did a great job with everything!
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Dying to see it. Bring it out to Arturo's tonight -- I'll be playing with Harry and Dan-Dan.
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    What time do you guys start? I got a rehearsal tonight on 39th St. and I THINK I want to drop the bass off at Joe's studio so I don't have to schlep it in for tomorrow night's session. Maybe I could slide over after the R and before the studio....hmm. Lemme do some thinnin.