I often read online that some players spend nearly 2 hours warming up. I want to ask, why?
I get it, I understand the concept, but why?
Why would you want to devote this time to the same routine/torture session everyday? We are told that practice makes perfect? Well does it? If I played the same routine everyday, will I get better? Maybe. I could get worse and I am living proof of that.
I used to be a huge Stamp devotee. I still am in someways and owe so much to his work. It probably saved me years of heartache. If I did the stamp routine I played better. What about it though was helping me? I believe it was breathing in time and playing a series of flow studies that realigned my face from the abuse the day before, this inline with mouthpiece buzzing that really helped me. It also helped me mentally.
On the flipside, James Thompson’s buzzing book routine always made my chops feel stiff but the Stamp buzzing just always worked.
Having experimented with most routines out there, I realised that some of the Stamp, Maggio, Claude Gordon, Caruso, Jeff Smiley all worked for me. (just to name a few)
I realised that the sections that worked were all similar and these were the sections that prepared me best to play for the day physically and mentally. A few sections or exercises in the books/routines would strain me and make my playing that day or the next impossible. This was a light bulb moment for me. If I did what made my playing feel better as part of my warmups on the gig days, I would play better in the gigs. Seems pretty logical, why didn't I come up with this idea sooner.
I now split my routines into three distinct camps.
The warmup, maintenance and building (normally Music based).
I don’t think I am covering anything new here but we need to know what and why we are doing it when we are practising. My warmup can be anything from 1 minute to 10 minutes now. Anymore than that and I am into maintenance.
My mini warmup is to blow air through the mouthpiece against the lips. I will do a demo of this on YouTube at some point. Continue to blow mouthpiece adding trumpet. Then I play a beautiful middle G after a good lungful of air. A few lip bends down in semitones. F#, F, E. Then I play the G again and lip bend to F# then slur upwards to C. Lip bend to B and then up to E. E to D#, this can be difficult if stiff so I let the air do the work and do a couple here until they feel free. Then up to G same routine with as the E here with lip bends. I finish this on a nice high C and then play the G in the middle again. If I don’t feel good I repeat the whole sequence. After the 2nd time through I am normally good to go. That is the mini warmup and I truly believe we need a quick warmup for trumpet players otherwise you can cause yourself psychological problems. You get the “Oh no, I haven’t warmed up, this is going to be a car crash” mentality and guess what? It probably will be! Life throws up issues now and again and you need to be prepared for them, if you need a two hour warmup and then three hours off how would you cope with a 9am rehearsal or an 8am recording session. Last year I was doing an orchestral rehearsal playing Korngold. Road was closed on the way to the rehearsal and I had to take a hefty detour. I had planned to get there 45 minutes before the rehearsal started. Not to warm-up but because I like to be early. I walked on stage as the A was being given, got the trumpet out just as the conductor started talking. Warm-up time was gone. Ten years ago I would have freaked, this time I didn't need to. Freak out. I knew my face would work without my 40 minute Stamp routine. I blew some air through the mouthpiece and decided I was ready to go and you guessed it. I was! Now, I believe I am more efficient with my warmups and I don't mentally rely on them anymore. I feel free from the torture routines but I still do some of those sessions but never as a warmup. Those are my maintenance routines and I will talk more about this is my next ramble.