If you have been learning to play guitar for a while, you must have come across this term a lot "Warm-Up", and you might be doing somethings that might feel like a warm-up, or you may be doing the right things also. But if you are not at all familiar with warm-ups, or feel like your warm-ups are not contributing to your overall guitar progress, then here are my list of things that are a part of a good guitar practice warm-up routine.
Before we look at the elements of a good warm-up, let's understand what is a warm-up and why you should be doing it.
Guitar playing is a physical activity, and we have always been taught that before doing any physically intense activity, it's always good to limber up. Mostly because nobody wants to get injured, by the body doing something when it's not at the right temperature. But there's another side of it which typically people overlook. We also need to get are brain and mind engaged and warmed up for the work that's coming during practice session. Hence a warm-up is crucial, and if done intelligently, it can amplify the speed at which you can get results during the actual practice session.
With that said, there are many cliched ways of doing guitar warm-ups and people often choose random exercises or finger drills, that may not be very relevant to what they want to achieve, and not very beneficial either.
E.g. When you are not going to play chromatic notes, what sense does it make to play the chromatic movement exercise on every string?
Which is why I'm going to be stressing on the elements, that I feel should be part of a good warm-up routine.
Many times I come across people practicing random exercises during warm-up, which are not at all related to what they want to achieve in their guitar playing. Like I already spoke about the chromatic exercise, there are many such things like the spider, trilling etc... All of these exercises can have a place in your playing, provided they contribute towards your eventual goal. For instance, if you working towards improving your Rhythm guitar playing, and if that's the first thing on your list for practice today, you need to warm-up your picking hand through some creative exercises. So that your picking hand is ready to handle the load you put on them during practice. Similarly, if you are looking forward to apply a certain lick over a backing track as the first thing to practice, then a warm-up with the same lick at a slightly slower speed would be a good place to start. So if you are feeling that your warm-up is full of unnecessary exercises that are not related to what you want to do in your practice and playing, then swap them immediately with relevant training material that will help you improve faster.
Very often the guitarists go through a monotonous warm-up routine, that consists of the same exercise everyday. As a result, you get very good at the warm up, but hardly getting any better in your real playing. One of the most important reasons is that the warm-ups are no longer challenging for you, and that makes your brain switch-off while playing them. If your brain is not engaged during practice, the results will always be ordinary. You need to find relevant and challenging things to work on during your warm-up sessions, and
Just like you track your other practice items, it's always recommended to track your warm-up progress also. Let's say, your top speed of playing a scale is at 600 Notes Per Minute, then your warm-up speed needs to be approx 400 NPM. Now as your actual top speed increases, you should be able to start with a proportionately higher speed during your warm-up. This will constantly challenge you and prepare you for situations where you'll not have too much time to warm-up, like an impromptu gig.
When you take up random exercises to play during warm-ups, I've seen people almost spending their entire practice time doing just the warm-up. As a result, there's hardly any progress happening in your real practice, because your brain is already fatigued from the pressure of completing the warm-up routine. Don't set a routine that includes all possible things, instead pick one or two things and warm-up for not more than 5 minutes. Depending on where you are and what the temperature is, you might need to either shorten or lengthen the warm-up by a few minutes. Remember that all the actual work should be part of your practice session and not the warm-ups.
Should get you in the right frame of mind to play
Constantly engage your brain and mind also during the warm-up, so that your entire body is ready to play and improve on the instrument. Keep it slow but engaging and enjoyable.
So these are my 5 key tips for warm-ups that will help you progress much faster. I've applied these things myself and seen massive results in my playing and in the playing of my students. If you are unsure off what your warm-up or practice routine should look like, then BOOK A TRIAL LESSON and I'll help you identify the right things for you to practice to progress faster.