If you are like most musicians today, you have a lot going on. Sadly, we don’t always have hours to practice. We also don’t have tons of time to warm up be it for a practice session, rehearsal, or a performance.
That’s why I have experimented over the past year with different warm up ideas and have found what works for me. Today, I am going to share some rapid warm ups with you for when you don’t have much time to practice.
Now, you can spread these warm ups out over more time, but they can be done in five to ten minutes if and when necessary. So, let’s get into the rapid warm ups.
The flute, like other instruments, has what is called the harmonic series. I won’t get too technical here, but the harmonic (or overtone) series is where you have a fundamental (think low C) and then there are overtones on top of that fundamental.
If you play a low C (C4) and over blow, you will get the C above that (written C5). Over blow more and you will get a G5. Again, over blow, and you will get a C6. Then E6, G6, Bb6, etc.
Trevor Wye has a great exercise for harmonics in his tone book, but if for whatever reason you don’t have that book, you can create your own exercises by overblowing and hitting different harmonics.
Playing harmonics helps prepare the lips and the ears for playing the flute. You can really feel how fast you have to blow and at what angle in order to hit notes throughout the range of the flute. If you are short on time, stick to just harmonics on low C. But if you have a bit more time, play harmonics on low C#, D, Eb, etc.
Related: Scientific Pitch Notation (C4, etc.)
Long tones make most flutists feel one of two ways: love or hate. They are great for improving your tone, but they can be a bit boring. I mean, you are playing one note for as long as you can.
But there are many things you can do to make long tones more interesting. Adding dynamics, changing the tone color, and adding or subtracting vibrato will switch up the sound, and you can still get your long tone practice in. No more lying to your teacher.
You can also experiment with different intervals. Instead of just playing chromatically, try using the whole tone scale, or go down or up in minor or major thirds.
This will also help “speed” up your warm up, because you are cover multiple flute playing basics with just one exercise.
T&G 17 Daily Exercises
Taffanel & Gaubert to the flute is like butter to bread. I love alternating between exercises 1 & 2. They are a great way to practice scale patterns in all of the keys.
The exercises also cover the entire range of the flute, so it cuts down on time playing scales each day. Yes, you should still play scales, but in a pinch, these exercises are a good substitute.
The other exercises are also good, and you can choose one or two to fit your needs for that particular day. If your copy of T&G has been left untouched, I suggest you pull it out, because it really is that important.
Scales (In Context)
If you still have time to warm up, I recommend playing the scale(s) associated with any etudes or repertoire you are working on. Not only does this help prepare you for playing that etude or piece, but it can also get you to practice your scales.
When you have a piece in a particularly tricky key, or if you have a more difficult run based on a scale, use that scale to warm up for the real thing. If the piece is in a minor key, play the relative major and all three minor scales.
Pieces with key changes are also good for this. Play all the associated scales for your piece. That way, your fingers will be warmed up and ready to play in the appropriate keys.
All of these warm ups together do take longer than each on their own. Determine your goals for the day, and choose the warm up that will best prepare you for your practice.
Did I miss any warm ups? What do you do when you are short on time to warm up? Let me know in the comments!