Why You Should do Warm-Ups (Students)
Warming up before you practice your instrument is vital to building your skills in your daily sessions. Not only does it get you loose before you start to practice songs, songwriting, or a new skill, but it’s increasing your technical proficiency and your understanding of your instrument.
I find that a simple warm up routine is easy to maintain and see progress in; that’s also what I’ve found most enjoyable too. Logging your practice can help you visualize and quantify your progress. Using a Google sheet or other service has helped me tremendously in seeing my progress and holding me accountable for practicing every day.
Here’s my practice routine and the amount of time I usually allow in each category. I try to practice as often as I can solely because practice is the only way to get better at your instrument.
1. Set up (2 minutes)
This is when I tune my instrument, play a little just for fun, then get my metronome app ready.
2. Practice a technique (10-15 minutes)
Currently I’m practicing a drill, which my guitar instructor called the “spider drill.” It’s used to help build finger dexterity, playing speed, picking, and control over your fingers.
My formula for practicing drills is to start with a metronome at a slow/medium tempo (usually between 60-100bpm) and to work my way up in increments of 5 beats per minute. I do this until I reach a speed where I start to be unable to play the technique cleanly and precisely, then I push it an extra 5-10bpm. The extra 5-10bpm is the most critical part of the exercise. It’s in this push range where you develop the most. The building up to that speed is mostly strength training for your fingers and your picking hand.
3. Skill training (15 minutes)
After I practice my technique I work on a skill that I want to get better at. Currently I’m working on sweep picking/speed. I use the formula above with a metronome and work my way up until I’m uncomfortable, then I push it that extra amount.
4. Free Play (As much time as possible)
Lastly, I work on something that I’m interested in. Right now I’m mainly focusing on writing songs for my bands and learning some songs for fun. This is the part of practice that myself and so many other people find most enjoyable. It’s important to not skip right to this section of practice, because if you don’t warm up you won’t see as much improvement in your playing, it can make it harder to learn songs, and it can hinder your ability to technically understand your instrument.
Other things you can do at any time without your instrument are listening to music, watching videos related to your instrument, or talking to someone about skills or just music in general. This can implement a lot of inspiration as well as a better understanding of the greater concept of your instrument in areas or genres that interest you.
Practice is the best thing you can do for your skills as a musician. Being thorough with your practicing is extremely vital to your progression. Just spend as much time as possible with your instrument in your hands, and you’ll find yourself improving in no time.
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