ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Effective Piano Practice: Are Warm Up Exercises Really Crucial?

Updated on December 23, 2010

The need to play chords or scales before practicing the piano

Since the first time you walked into a piano lesson, there has been one key action drilled into your mind: always start with a few scales or exercises to properly warm up your fingers. It is a drill that crosses all lines of study and virtually any piano teacher will do their best to instill a warm up routine into their students. While they can’t stand over your home practice, they can certainly make sure your fingers exercise a few scales or broken chords before beginning a lesson.

I’m sure you have wondered whether a warm up exercise is really essential for proper practice. Of course, there are times when a warm up exercise is obvious and needed. If you have just come inside from a cold or rainy day, your fingers likely ache to be warmed up; otherwise, they would be too stiff to play effectively. However, after a few quick exercises on the keys, they are ready to tackle any piece.

Another time where warm up exercises are noticeably applicable is when you are going to attempt a piece that will extend your normal limits of play. If you are going to attempt a piece with complicated chords or a fast tempo, then it would be difficult to do so without a proper acclimation period. Have you ever wondered what the best warm up exercise would be to achieve your goal? Is there a set task that will not only prepare your fingers for difficult play, but also your mind?
 

Alternative methods for acclimating the fingers for practice

It would make more sense to devise a warm up exercise that is applicable to the piece you are going to play. If your piece does not contain broken chords or a variety of scales, then it does not make sense to use that as a warm up for practice. What if the piece has complicated rhythmic changes, large key jumps, or difficult areas of hand synchronization? Would it not make sense to warm up based on those difficult skills you will have to master? After all, tennis players perform more than a quick jog around the court to warm up for a game and a runner would not flail his arms to prepare for a run.

Another alternative to warming up with broken chords or scales is to play a simple piece of music that you know well and like playing. It should be a piece that you can play effortlessly, without needing to build up to a certain speed or skill. The greater benefit of using a favorite piece to warm up is that it will put you in a great mood and prepare the mind to tackle the more difficult challenges during practice. You will remember the ultimate goal of piano practice, which is to make beautiful music. That feeling in the back of your mind will encourage you through mistakes and other difficulties much more than monotonous scales or chords will.

However, scales and chord exercises are still important to your piano practice!

Scales and chord exercises certainly deserve a place in your practice sessions. The downfall comes when they are used only as mechanichal warm-up exercises. They become dreaded and seemingly useless exercises, rather than used for the true benefit they actually offer to improve your piano playing skill. They should be incorporated into your practice in creative ways to accentuate that benefit and encourage their use during practice on a routine basis.

Share your warm up routines!

I am sure our readers have their own very useful tips about how to "warm up" mentally and physically before piano practice. Please share your experiences in the comments section below. Perhaps you disagree with the ideas put forward in this hub? Nothing could be more interesting for us to read! 

Inspired piano warm up by death metal drummer (!) Steve Asheim

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • PianoTips profile image

      Louise Woodcock 

      2 years ago from Kent, UK

      A daily warm up study is critical to set your mood, prepare your poise and muscles, and establish your focus. Follow up with some sight reading - a hymn book is ideal, then two major, two minor scales. Settle into the practice session!

    • profile image

      Rob 

      7 years ago

      Eric Cartman: "Get a hair cut hippie!"

      Just kidding! Seriously, this is some really good playing and big time talent! Thanks for sharing the video.

    • Ari Lamstein profile image

      Ari Lamstein 

      7 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I love this video!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)