10 warm-up exercises that I love to hate

10 warm-up exercises that I love to hate

Warm-ups aren’t just about flexing your fingers. Warming up helps with concentration and confidence. It’s hard to get into a cold performance. Whether it’s a Broadway show, a show at Carnegie Hall, a concert at a bar, or any other formal or informal setting, you need a warm-up routine. Like a runner who needs to stretch before a competition, a musician must prepare his mind and body before a performance. Although there is a flood of method books on the market as well as tips and tricks on YouTube, there is no standard canon of technical exercises available for the electric guitar. As a professional guitarist over the years, I’ve found the need for an effective, comprehensive, and fast-paced warm-up routine.

The warm-up routine

Here are ten specific exercises, appropriate for both hands with an emphasis on picking, and when played in tempo they should take about five minutes. You’ll be ready to play just about anything and still have your energy to pour into the gig. The idea is to be able to practice a technique that exceeds the demand for what you are going to play. These are easy to remember and very portable, without having to carry books or download an app.

Directions: Use alternate picking for all exercises except sweep picking. Be aware of picking as it is important to develop monster technique. Play all the notes evenly and cleanly at a slow tempo before gradually speeding up.

Example 1 is probably the exercise I hate the most. It was shown to me by a guitar phenom/colleague in graduate school. He played it quickly with no errors, clicks or hesitations. It sounded edgy and I had never heard anything like it before, so it piqued my curiosity. What complicates the task is the alternate play on each string, with only one note per string.

Start with one finger per fret from the 6th to 3rd strings. Then bring the fingering down to the next four strings starting with the 5th string. Keep moving the shape until you run out of strings. The left pattern will be 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1. At this point, go down one fret and reverse the shape from the 1st string. Continue until you reach the 1st fret. It’s hard to play cleanly, but it sounds good and it’s a necessary technique.

Example 2 sums up the difficulties of guitar playing in a single measure. This one focuses on the crossing of the strings and the direction of the pick. Be aware of the extra note added to the pattern. It reverses the direction of picking, providing the option to begin a phrase with an upward stroke. I find that my picking triggers when the pattern changes, making it a good example of overcoming this technical challenge.

The most basic and traditional form of the major scale is shown in Example 3. What makes this challenge is a combination of two- and three-note shapes per string while alternating picking. You end up moving away from a predictable flow of notes per string. Play this one four times to train your pick hand to get this skill accurately.

So you say you know the major scale? It is perhaps one of the most difficult. The premise in Example 4 is that wherever you are on the fretboard you have access to all the notes and scales without switching to a more comfortable fingering. When playing over a chord change or idea, you want to be able to play the next note at your fingertips. The moment you have to move to play a line, your thinking often stops and your creativity is avoided.

It may even be more of a mental exercise than a physical one. This requires keeping track of several things at once: going through all the keys in the fourth cycle, the direction of the scale, and finding the correct note in position, all at a race pace (eventually).

Play the major scales in one position without changing position. The goal is to play in a range of four to five frets without using open strings. There are four directions for this exercise: up, down, alternating up/down, and alternating down/up.

It’s more of a quasi-classical guitar passage where the fingers of the right hand do the work (Example 5). Specifically, it is a pedal point exercise where one note stays the same while the other notes move. It really works with an alternate picking technique with the triplet part.

Example 6 is the one I would play before a performance. When I started performing on Broadway, I realized the implication and the requirement of the right hand. The fast picking is determined by tremolo technique, so I wrote a tremolo part over a G minor arpeggio leading to an excerpt from Bach (1st Violin Sonata BWV 1001 Presto).

Ex. seven is all about pentatonic quintuplets. Note that for each starting note in the group of five notes, the selection direction will be the opposite of the previous one. It sounds amazing when played fast, Eric Johnson style.

Maybe the chromatic scale is already everyone’s warm-up. However, Example 8 uses open strings combined with fretted notes in first position, which is a challenge. It may be on par with something from Mel Bay Book 1, but try to play it fast and clean.

To play modern ideas on the guitar, you need to know the sweep. Since the balayage uses different musculature, it will look odd or different at first. Start slow with triplets, then take the same note pattern and play sixteenth notes followed by quintuplets. Example 9 helps with both picking and rhythmic control.

Ex. ten breaks away from narrow intervals and splits into wider intervals, such as 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, and 7ths. The techniques involve jumping ropes and a plethora of different forms. Practicing intervals is a great ear training exercise and should be done daily, just like taking vitamins.

I hope this warm-up routine brings you new and improved technique and much success in your musical performance. Until next time, happy shredding and bon voyage!

From articles on your site

Related articles on the web

#warmup #exercises #love #hate

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *