Those who read my posts about trumpet playing will already know that I am no great champion of over long ‘warming up’. During earlier periods of my career and as a student I adhered to many well known routines. For years I would do lengthy flexibility exercises and strengthening studies.
With experience, I have learnt that the more warming up a player does, the more he has to do! Also, I find that lengthy routines of this type tend to train the player to be tired when the warming up is over and the time finally arrives to actually play music. Even worse, the student who feels the need to do hours of lip slurs, pedal tones etc often leaves the best ‘chops’ behind in the practice room and goes onto the concert platform under par! Personally, I find that too much playing of this stuff also means my chops always feel a tad sore, un-supple and a constantly tired embouchure can make the mouthpiece feel in the wrong place and other embouchure problems can quickly ensue…
I also find that too much routine, mundane practice can tend to make a routine, mundane player. Therefore, I believe that the warm-up should be as brief as possible. Get the breathing going, the lips vibrating, move around the range to make certain the notes are still all there (!) and most importantly to get that brain going! I get straight to playing music as soon as I can. I see little value in playing pages of exercises when I can be playing a concerto, sonata or a musical study. Pages of calisthenics and technical exercises seem to me to be a way of using up a long time. This leads me to say to any student, “… Play to sound great! Don’t practice to feel tired.” (I heard that phrase of a fantastic teacher called Kristian Steenstrup, but I suspect I may have heard it previously, accredited to the great pedagog Arnold Jacobs. It doesn’t matter who first uttered those words, it is some of the best advice I have ever heard.
I have already stated in previous posts that I am fond of the ‘Flow Studies’ by the great teacher, Vincent Chicowicz. I don’t always use these, however. Most routines are intended to achieve similar aims – to get the player ready for the trumpet playing that day. It is not necessary to be a slave to one routine or another. I like to change to some different studies at least once or twice a week, just to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
Here is an exercise I used to hear Ian Brown, the great first trumpet of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, play many times as he loosened up in the pit. I subsequently found many similar exercises in a book by the German teacher Rolf Quinque. The exercise encourages suppleness and gets me ready to make music quickly.
For me, these days, twenty minutes would be a very long warm-up. As already stated, I simply loosen up to get going. I remember meeting Charles Colin many years ago, and his son Al. I had just left college and they seemed horrified that I was spending the best part of my practice session playing the entire first part of Mr Colin’s famous ‘Lip Flexibilities’ book!
Good luck with your playing.