This week, we’ll be focusing on practice routines. What are your favorite patterns for warm up or technical exercise? Here is a 1990 article by an old friend from grad school:
I think it is very important to take short breaks after each 20-30 minutes of work, and to vary activities during each 20-30 minute session. Until we have a practice routine imprinted in our psyche, we should write it down and stick to it by the clock. Some new metronomes now have timers so that we can set the clock for each segment. Quite an improvement over my mother’s egg timer!?!
I tend to rotate through several different long tones and technique routines. Recently, I’ve been using drone pitches to tune by ear. Particularly helpful is the “D” drone pitch. Tune D, d, d’, and d”. Then, test G, g, and g’ followed by A, a, and a’. These are all perfect intervals. If you choose a drone tone that is a fairly simple waveform, you’ll be able hear the “beats”–interference caused by two slightly different frequencies. The faster the beats, the greater the difference between the frequencies.
Transpose the pattern to tune other tonic/sub-dominant/dominant sets.
I also use this combination long tone/technique workout that has been associated with Simon Kovar (and his student Ray Pizzi):
Extend the range out to at least an octave above and below the starting pitch. Choose different starting pitches for variety.
Here is an arpeggio pattern that helps exercise voicing, finger precision, pitch, and flexibility:
Try different starting keys for variety.
Finally, here are links to three sample warm-up videos with master teachers:
P.S. Here is a transcription of the pattern used by Matsukawa in his “Five with One Stone”:
Thanks to R.K. for the new header logo!