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The Importance of Warming Up in Instrumental Play

by Madonna

In the world of music, the age-old debate persists: Is warming up a necessary ritual before delving into a practice session or performance? Contrary to conventional wisdom, this question prompts a diverse array of responses from musicians worldwide.

Many musicians adhere to the belief that warming up is an indispensable part of their routine. A case in point is the adherence of a violinist to a meticulously practiced scale routine, akin to a religious ritual. Renowned British violin pedagogue Simon Fischer even dedicated an entire book, aptly titled “Warming Up!”, emphasizing the significance of this preparatory phase. The echoes of this sentiment are found in the teachings of various mentors who consistently emphasize the value of warming up, providing a plethora of ideas for exercises targeting the left hand, right hand, mental focus, and even various muscle groups such as shoulders, neck, torso, arms, and wrists.

The crux of the matter lies in defining what constitutes an effective warm-up. Should it encompass dedicated exercises for each hand, mental acuity, or a broader focus on physical aspects, including shoulders and wrists? Violinist Guenther, for instance, discovered that minimal warm-up sufficed for him. He asserted, “Playing any music expressively with a warmth of tone that I love warms me up in all aspects of my playing very quickly.” This perspective challenges the traditional notion of rigorous warm-up routines.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are dissenting voices, such as Augustin Hadelich, a virtuoso violinist, who cited time constraints as a reason to forgo extensive warm-ups. Hadelich argued that warming up with repertoire could be more time-efficient, especially for those at the highest echelons of skill, where time is a precious commodity.

So, where do you stand on the warming-up debate? Do you believe it is an essential practice, or do you find yourself skipping it altogether? If you are a proponent of warming up, what does your routine entail? Are you a scale enthusiast, or perhaps you incorporate yoga into your pre-play regimen? We invite you to participate in our poll, and then share your thoughts and practices in the comments section below. Let your voice be heard in the ongoing discussion about the role of warming up in the world of instrumental play.

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