As a follow up to my Perfect Practice post, I thought I’d talk a little about warming up. Warming up should be included in your practice routine.
It’s important to warm up prior to practicing or playing so that the muscles in your hands are loose. It’s possible to strain or damage the muscles in the hand if they’re not properly stretched prior to playing at full speed. Another advantage to warming up prior to playing is that you’re more likely to play accurately and with more ease if your hands are loose and stretched.
What should be included in a warm-up routine? I personally like to run through a few scales and licks; typically I’ll spend a few minutes running through a few chromatic scale sequences and then play some blues licks I’ve been playing for years. However, you might want to play a few chords as a way to stretch your hands. For instance, playing a G chord-D chord-C chord combination sequence provides several different fingerings and stretches.
When warming up, it’s important to focus on stretching the muscles in the hand and not necessarily playing the notes at full speed. Concentrate on technique, not speed.
In summary, a good practice routine consists of about 5-10 minutes of warming up prior to practicing or performing.