Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some Basic Warm-Ups

by JH

The cooler weather is upon us, and with this, we need to warm up well to prevent injury. Many people have a regimen of whole body stretching which they employ before they touch the bass. I will only deal here with the warm-up that involves the bass.
The first thing that I do when I sit down with the bass is shifting exercises. I typically begin on the E string, shifting between the two positions [F1-F#2-G4] and [G#1-A2-A#4]. Then I shift between [F1…] and [A#1…] positions. Next [F1…] to [C1…]. Next [F1…] to [D# 1…]. And finally [F1…] to [f1 (thumb pos.)…]

Then I move to the A string and do a similar set of exercises, usually starting on the B with the first finger. Then a few shifts on the D string.

After the shifting exercises, I often move to some measured trill exercises. It is helpful to use the metronome. Again starting on the E string with the first finger on F or F#, I trill from 1st to 2nd , 1st to 4th, 2nd to 1st , 2nd to 4th , 4th to 1st , and 4th to 2nd . I use a few bowings; each note separate, two slurred, four slurred, alternating two slurred and two separate. After completing the E string trills, I move to the A string C or C#, moving the metronome a little faster, going through the same finger and bowing patterns. Then the D string, faster and higher position. Finally the G string, again faster and higher position.

After doing all of that, my right hand might be a bit fatigued, so I practice some long tones on open strings. Ira Gold gave a class for us at Peabody last year, and suggested a good way to approach long tones. Set the metronome to 60 (one beat per second). Start with one beat per bow, increasing one beat in each successive stroke, to twenty or more beats per stroke.

By this time, the hands should be ready for the work at hand. If I am practicing at home, I usually continue to scales and arpeggios. If I am at work, I might spend a little time with double stop thirds in low positions with cross-string slurs before looking at the music for the day.

Warm up well to keep your hands healthy.

1 comment:

Stan Haskins said...

John - thanks for the great posts. Is there any chance you could talk a little about any of the warmups you might recommend away from the bass (stretches, relaxation exercises, anything else)? It seems to me that back injuries and overall body tension are more of an issue than hand problems.