Every performer needs a good warmup routine - whether you're a musician, a right fielder or an acrobat. In addition to reacquainting yourself with your body, a good warmup helps you prepare mentally for the day and creates a routine of mindful repetition. Here are five "A's" for effective warmups, courtesy of my own impure brain:
(A)ttack the brutal facts of reality. Was the scale perfectly even, in tempo, correctly fingered, and clear? If not, why, and how will you address it? Never give in to the temptation of "I know this, my finger just slipped" or "I know this, I don't have to do it again." If you truly "knew it" in your body, you wouldn't have missed it. Mistakes are the body's way of telling you what to work on next!
(A)ddress your greatest needs. Which technical aspect do you need the most improvement on? Do you need to work on hearing a convincing phrase? Creating smooth tone? Be specific and plan out how you will work on your holes.
(A)nticipate the challenges of the day. Do you have a difficult passage of double notes to play that evening in rehearsal? Make sure to incorporate double notes into your warmup. Do you have to play for a conductor that enjoys changing tempos? Adjust your warmup patterns to at least five different tempos (with metronome!) so you are prepared for anything.
(A)ctively enjoy the process. Enjoy your sound, the feel of the instrument, and the blessing of being a musician. Take pride in your product and in the fact that you are participating in great works of art. Be thankful for mistakes and take advantage of what they tell you!
Create an (a)tmosphere of opportunity. Eliminate distractions (turn off the smartphone, don't answer email, put a "do not disturb" sign on the door). Listen to a favorite top-level artist before you start to remind yourself what great sound is.
Any other tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them!