Jacquelene Falcon

Unbounded Teacher / Limitless Musician

How to make your warm up more exciting!

 

I have always found the warm up process a little tedious and somewhat…. boring. There I said it. So lately I have been finding ways to spice up this thing we all have to do. 

As a brass player it’s long tones, lip slurs, articulation exercises and the list goes on. But we have to do this. It is the foundation of our playing. So how can you make this fun? Thanks for asking! Recently I have been using a couple apps to do this. iReal Pro and Groove bank. 

 

Groove bank has a bunch of pre recorded drum beats in different styles and tempos and more can be added if you don’t mind spending a couple dollars. I like to break this app out when I am doing lip slurs. It gives me a tempo to follow without the monotonous click of a metronome as well as giving a neat rhythm to what I am playing allowing me to be more musical. This also works well for any articulation exercises or anything that you don’t want or need chord changes to.

 

Now iReal Pro is an app that is really meant for the jazz player but I have found it useful in my warm up as well. This app is available on mac, iPad, iPhone and android devices. It gives you the luxury of plugging in your own chord changes, changing tempos, styles, instrumentation, or even excluding instruments. For warm up purposes I have plugged in chord changes to work on my scales. The thing I like most about this is it allows me to work on intonation with something besides tuning drones. Don’t get me wrong, drones are great and there is a place for them in my warm up but this spices things up a bit. Especially when I play with a salsa groove (pun intended). Another nice thing to use this app for is to be creative in your warm up and play some simple melodies in different keys.

 

These apps can be used in many contexts besides the few I have listed so use your imagination and have fun! And don’t forget that even in our warm ups the number one goal is to MAKE MUSIC. 

Recording: Why and how

 

This past semester I was working on material for my Masters audition and needed a way to improve and quickly. So I gave this little thing called recording a try. Throughout my schooling I would regularly hear my private teachers say, “Record yourself” as I am sure all of you have as well. And if you haven’t well here it is RECORD YOURSELF, but until recently I never really knew the benefits. 

 

For you sports buffs out there, think about a golfer and how they evaluate their swing. They often take video so they can go back and analyze it to make sure it is proper and efficient. So why shouldn’t we be doing the same thing?

 

We know recording is beneficial but what do we do with the recording after it is taken? Well here is how I used recordings to improve my playing.

Step 1: I made sure to record myself daily. Now recording is just the first step. What do you do with it afterward? This leads us to Step 2: I found the best thing was to take that recording and analyze it. Analyze it for what you ask? Well the usual. 1. Rhythmic accuracy 2. Style 3. Technique 4. Artistry. Step 3: After this I would pick one of these to focus on improving. Let me say that again, improving not perfecting. We usually focus so much on perfection but in this field nothing will ever be perfect and perfection in my opinion should not be our goal. Now say from listening to your run you notice your articulation is not clear. Spend the next 10 min or so of your practice improving this aspect and then go to Step 4: which is recording it again. Step 5: Now when you listen to this second take was the articulation clearer? If so, go ahead and move on to another aspect of the piece repeating steps 1-4. If not keep working on it until there is improvement. And lastly Step 6: After improving your run, make sure to run it again later in the day to see if you can maintain those good moments.

 

By following these steps I guarantee you will see major improvement in your performance. Your ears will be opened up to things you cannot or did not hear while just running the piece. Also, having the evidence of the recordings will reassure whether an issue has improved or not.

 

 

© Jacquelene Falcon 2015