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> Psychological Approach, ..warming up etc..
Ben Higgins
post Jan 3 2013, 12:24 PM
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I was watching an interview clip with Michael Romeo yesterday and he was answering one of the most popular questions asked of guitarists : 'What's your warm up routine ?' and I was not surprised at all at Michael's answer, which was along the lines of not having any routine, just play.

I would say that a lot of players would give the same kind of answer when asked that question and you can see that they almost feel bad for saying it, that they don't have a definitive answer for the people who want to know. The thing is, it's kind of true. When you get to a certain level of ability in your playing, you just have confidence and trust in it and you don't have to 'plan' or 'think' so much about certain things. You can just pick up the guitar and start noodling anything; chords, scales, licks. You can just start ad-libbing anything. The main thing is just getting your fingers moving.

I also think there's an interesting psychological observation to be made here too.

If you carry a belief in your mind you will act accordingly, which is a point I think we can all agree on ?

If you sincerely believe that you need to have a certain amount of warmup / specific exercises to go through before you deem yourself 'ready' then this is the reality that you create. You're psychologically prepping your mind for 'warm up status' and you've subconsciously assigned yourself to the state of 'not ready'. I think this is where the certain reliance on a specific routine, set of exercises acts as a crutch and it's like we absolutely HAVE to do this or we 'can't play.'

In contrast to that mental state, if we believe that picking up the guitar and just playing some chords, noodling anything IS enough to get things warmed up then it WILL be enough. If somebody can just pick up and play any old thing it's because they believe they can. They believe this works for them. And it does.

I'm not downplaying the importance of warming up. Far from it. You know how I'm always saying about making sure you've got good circulation and blood flow. That is 'warming up' after all.

On a related note; I used to fear the thought of missing a day's practise because I believed my technique would deteriorate and I'd lose my ability. Now I do not believe that at all because my own personal experience has shown me that I can go weeks / even months/ without picking up the guitar to practise and when I do go back to it, I can still play. Some of the speed might have lapsed a little but generally it only takes an hour to feel like I did before. And guess what ? I just play, I don't do routines or warm ups to get back into the swing of things, I just put my heart into it and soon enough I'm back in the Ben Zone again smile.gif

This is only possible because I believe that I can do this. I believe this works.

One of the most technically proficient guitarists there is, Mr John Petrucci, says that he goes for months without playing guitar when he's back home from touring. If a man like that (who relies on extreme technical ability) can do it then it just shows that it can be done. It's all about our belief.

I think missing practise does affect your playing, especially when you're still building up techniques and things. I'm not saying this is definitely something that everyone will relate to but the psychological attitude that a guitarist has towards his playing abilities / routine goes a long way to explain why all these guys say things like 'I don't know, man.. I just play' smile.gif




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kaikarinha
post Jan 3 2013, 12:48 PM
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Hey Ben! Interesting thoughts here. Playing an instrument is like learning to ride a bike. You may need some time to get back to your normal speed/abilities but you would be able to play. I personally think that a warm-up is more interesting and necessary if you learn new things. I like to start my practice with playing some stuff I really like to play and at which I'm good at. So you start with a more positiv attitude then you would when you start directly with a lick you struggle at for days/months.... On the other hand you probably stress your hands/fingers some more when you play some parts over and over again without switching position (and relaxing your hand/fingers) so it is good to make some warm-ups to get your hands worm and comfortable.
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SpaseMoonkey
post Jan 3 2013, 02:51 PM
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Not only pros feel this way.

Before I joined GMC I always asked my friend what he did. Played the guitar half the time as me but plays way out of my league. Well back in his early school days all he did was play music and run scales. His sister said his day was pretty much, get up go to school, come home, homework, an hour of video games, and then would be playing for the rest of the night 4+ hours every single night.

Now as long as his hands are warm, not even from playing just in general, can pick a guitar up and shred away. I see that and have always agreed with confidence being a key factor. Because I see it in myself. I can play in my room with headphones on, which I get great results. Parents home and amp on I can still play great. But when we add in some friends I go down to an area of "Wow! What the heck happened to my skill?" So I agree it's a mind thing. Also if I go to a guitar shop I really have never sat down and played a guitar before I bought it unless I'm one of a few people in the store. Maybe its a stage fright thing? Who knows.

I think what people want to hear with warming up is.. What exercises do you do pertaining to the guitar. Not everyone does that. Get up run in place get the core going and you're fine, just as you said Ben get the blood flowing. That's really all you need to do.

I believe in the you can pick the guitar back up with missed time and you will be fine theory. I play most days of the week, I tend to have an off day or 2. To spend time with friends and do other activities. But when I do go back and pickup the guitar I feel more refreshed and relaxed, to the point of not wanting to kick over a poor defenseless chair! laugh.gif Practicing new licks with chord transitions I'm not use to really grinds my gears. Working on an Alt Picking Arpeggio lesson now, for the life of me I have to play it so slow due to the chord changes. I'm a metal player tend to just chuga chuga chuga not being so precise in my playing. The more I spend time with being mentored the more I've thought outside of the box. Not well I don't need this or that, but rather, I might not use this now but it will make my playing better overall.

I think some of it has to do with the mind, just like being peaceful, you just open your mind and let it be free.


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klasaine
post Jan 3 2013, 05:28 PM
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Great topic!
I'm a practicer but I'm NOT a warm-up guy.
I don't know why but when I'm on a gig or a rehearsal I just get distracted either setting up and dealing with a tech problem or talking with other guys in the band or audience, etc. I try to make time to play some scales but rarely is it enough to call it a 'warm-up'.

But ... (for better or for worse) after gigging for so many years I'm pretty confident that I'm going to play the gig just fine.
In other words - as an older musician told me a long time ago ... "if you know where you're going, chances are you'll get there". (knowing where you're going is the key part of this phrase)

As far as warming up for my personal practice periods I usually start by working on something new that I need to learn for an upcoming project. This actually accomplishes two things 1) it forces me to go slowly and deliberately and 2) since it's something new I'm interested and attentive. *I should mention that when I was really learning my instrument (between the ages of 15 and 25 or so) I did put in many many hours of personal practice and study. Sometimes all day, everyday for weeks at a time. I was also fortunate during that time to play in school bands, bands with other kids in the neighborhood, my brother played trumpet and my dad played piano so we'd 'jam' at home all the time and I took a private guitar lesson once a week. So, instrument in hand a lot!

Conversely I know and work with guys and gals that absolutely must not only practice at least 3 hours a day, 6 days a week but also insist on a 20 minute (or more) warm-up before any rehearsal, performance or recording session. And if they don't get that time they're in a bad mood, nervous ... and 9 times out of 10 they play just fine laugh.gif.

None of this is advice per se. This is just what works for me.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 3 2013, 05:42 PM


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Andre Nieri
post Jan 3 2013, 05:46 PM
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Great thread, Ben.

Usually I don't play good when I start. I don't know, maybe I really need a warming up section…
Specially when I want to fingerpick, it just starts to feel smooth when my hands are well warmed up.



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Ben Higgins
post Jan 3 2013, 06:01 PM
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Some great input here, guys ! smile.gif

I'm glad to hear you're avoiding those chairs, Spasemoonkey... I know they can be tempting... tongue.gif


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