Warm Up Guide for Double Bassists

– Warming up is an integral
part of your practice routine. Getting yourself acquainted
with the instrument, moving your arms, your
hands, your fingers. That prevents injury and
it allows you to work on your technique a
little bit before you get into your repertoire. It generally just makes
practicing a lot more enjoyable. So in this lesson, I’m
gonna show you how to form a good warmup, and I’m
gonna show you what I do. So, let’s start with that. Now, this warmup routine that I do, I do every single day. What I start with is tuning, so that means just tuning on open strings. I do include that as part of my warmup, and I’ll explain later in
the lesson why I include that as part of my warmup. And then after that, I
move on to a slow scale. And again, I’ll go into more
detail later on in this lesson, and I’ll provide a PDF of
my version of the slow scale for you, but the general
idea is that I do one scale, one key, a week. I start with slow, long tones, and then I
gradually get faster as I go up and back down the scale. And then I move on to the shifting drill. You know, these vomit exercises. (bass music) That drill. I do that because it just
warms up the hands so well and it also gets my ears
a little bit warmed up. Then after that, I move
on to something notey. What I mean by that is is just getting my fingers moving quickly, so something like four-note
progressive scale. Or the shiftless scales in thumb position. You just wanna get your
hands moving, right? So my warmup routine takes
about 25 to 30 minutes to do. Depending on how long you
have to practice every day, that might be a little
bit too long for you, and that’s okay. It’s not how long you warm up. It’s about hitting these key
elements of a good warmup. So what are the key
elements of a good warmup that you wanna make sure you include? The first one is tuning or simple motions. So I mentioned, in my warmup, that tuning is a big part
of my warmup routine. I basically turn my
tuning into long tones. So by long tones, I mean just very simple, slow movements back and forth. What I’m doing is I’m just
getting my body moving here and I’m focusing on getting a
big, full sound with my bow. Tuning is a great time to
do that because you’re just focusing on tuning the pegs up at the top of your instrument, and also you can focus on getting a big, full sound because of that. So I really like to do that when I have my students come over. It’s just a great way
to get the body moving. And then after that, the next key element is
scales and arpeggios. So I mentioned what I do is my slow scale. Let’s say I’m doing the key of F major. That’s the PDF that I’m
gonna include for you under this lesson. What I do is I start with whole notes. So I’ll put the metronome on usually 80, but you can do 60 as well, and play essentially long tones. You wanna go really slow
here at the beginning, and you wanna put the metronome
on as well as the drone on whatever key you’re playing in, to make sure that you’re
also working on intonation. So you go all the way up
and all the way back down in this slow, think of
them as whole notes, so four beats for each pitch. Then you go to half notes and
then quarters and eighths, and as fast as you can possibly go while still maintaining
your left-hand technique, your intonation, all of that. It’s just a great way to
slowly get yourself moving a little bit faster. You’re focusing on bow control, you’re focusing on intonation. You’re also focusing on velocity, so moving your hands faster, right? And then the next key element is shifting or intonation work. Now, we covered that a
little bit with our scales and arpeggios, if you’re
also including those. Intonation work covers pretty
much everything that we do other than playing on open strings, if we’re already in tune, right? So with the shifting and intonation work, what I do is the shifting
drills, these vomit exercises. Right? You can do whatever you’d like. If you have another type of
shifting drill that you like or some kind of exercise
that has you moving up and down the instrument, then do that. I love the shifting drills. I love the vomit exercises
because it’s the best way to just get my fingers moving. I don’t know what it is about those, but my fingers are always
warmed up when I finish those. So what I would recommend,
put the drone on. You don’t need a metronome for those, and do one octave of your
shifting drills up and down. And I promise, you’ll
be warmed up after that. And then the final
element is something to do with velocity, moving your
fingers, something notey. Remember I said that in my warmup routine, where I play the four-note
progressive scales? Right? Or the shiftless scales in thumb position, some kind of drill or
exercise that has your fingers moving up and down the instrument, and you’re able to move faster. Now, you can also use an
excerpt from your music. So if you’re working on,
say, Mozart Symphony 35, you can do an excerpt from that. That would be a great time to
work on getting your fingers moving faster when you
know you have to practice that anyway, you can sort of
overlap your technique work with your repertoire. And so those are the
four different elements of your warmup routine,
and what I would suggest is to come up with three
or four of them based on different exercises that
you know you need to work on, you know that are good for
you, you know you enjoy, and different spots, maybe in your music, that you struggle with that can be used as velocity exercises or
even intonation exercises. And post a few of them in the study group. It would be really helpful
for people that maybe struggle building their own warmup routine, and we can all learn from them
and maybe give you feedback on where you can cut back on certain areas and where you can add for
other warmup exercises.

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