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Music

Quick Tip: Organize a Proper Guitar Warm Up

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Every time you pick up a guitar you may need some warm up to be ready to play your best performance. Especially during the winter, when your fingers may feel stiff. In this tutorial, I describe a number of exercises to help warm up. 

At this point a proper warm up is not only a matter of playability but also of health for your muscle. 

A Necessary Debate

When speaking of a guitar warm up, there are a number of points of view and philosophies.

  • Some may state that you need to play nonsense chromatic exercise just to start moving your fingers. 
  • Some may say you have to play chords and syncopated strumming patterns. 
  • Some may talk about neck visualization and mind tripping exercise. 
  • There are people who also like to read music as a warm up. 

I wanted to mention all of these different approaches to let you know that everything you do is totally valid. 

There's no right or wrong because when you think of a warm up you should think not just about your fingers. You should think about getting ready and this has to deal with your fingers as well as your concentration. 

Nonsense Exercises 

Look at exercises to develop technique as well as moving your fingers. 

It has to be emphasised that those kind of exercise won't make you think while playing, which may be a good thing or not, depending on what kind of player you are.

Consider this as an exercise:

Numbers in the tab state not only the fret but also the number of fingers to use
Numbers in the tab state not only the fret but also the number of fingers to use

Download the Exercise PDF documents.

Strumming Exercises

Usually one thinks of a warm up as ascending and descending chromatic runs. Consider playing some big bar chords when picking up a guitar. 

So, contrary to what you may expect, exercise number one is:

  • Play some big open chords
Play some big chords
Play some big chords

You may be surprised about how relaxing that is, and also, you may even learn how to comp for a basic eight tone driven pop tune. You should aim to play with commitment; really mean what you're playing even if simple.

If you want to get sophisticated with rhythm warm up, there are other kind of strumming patterns to be played. Those exercises will let you think a little bit more about what you're doing since they imply the use of accents. 

Download the Exercise PDF documents. In the sheet I wrote down just different rhythm ideas. It's up to you whether to play E9 (super common funky taste chord) or open chords or even upper register triads. 

Visualize While Warming Up

In the end, I want to give you an idea to avoid the classic warm up. 

It may look as though it is a technique exercise but, honestly, I think that the most frustrating thing to go through as a player is to perform an unmusical exercise. 

Playing something you don't perceive as music won't keep you focused and, with time, you'll lose interest in what you can do with your instrument. This last exercise will commit you more to a proper warm up. 

DM7 Arpeggio
DM7 Arpeggio

Download the Exercise PDF documents.

I wrote down this exercise in the key of D minor but you can apply the same principle to whatever key. This sheet has to be just a general idea to develop your own warm up. Everyone is different and everyone will need and prefer some exercises to others. 

Conclusion

In this quick tip, I gave you some musical exercises to help you warm up. I think that the first thing a player plays on his instrument really defines what kind of players he or she is, what he or she likes and dislikes. Tell me, in the comments below, what kind of player you are. 

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