Warm-ups for the Intermediate-Advanced Saxophonist

Do you ever wish you had the discipline to stay with a regular warm-up routine? I do. However, is it simply discipline, or is it a matter of developing a routine you are more likely to follow. Maybe you need a plan that will help you be more organized. We often read or hear about how one musician or another will go through a warm-up regimen that includes stretching (a good idea), long tones, major and minor scales, chords, scales in thirds, fourths, patterns, etc. We get excited and psyched, and decide we will do that exact warm-up too. I get psyched as well. I also know how easy it is to stray from these good intentions. What is the answer to the warm-up dilemma? I'm not sure I have a clear cut answer, but I have some friendly advice. My advice is don't try to duplicate someone else's routine. Devise your OWN customized routine. Why not? Create a routine YOU can live with. If you are sure you can handle only a short warm-up, don't try to force a 30-45 minute structure because you are convinced it would help you. Chances are you won't stay with it. Besides, a short warm-up is better than none at all. Also, make it as interactive as possible. Use your metronome and tuner. Write things down. Tape record some of your sessions. Using these tools will help to keep you focused on your goal. By writing things down, I mean to say, you might consider making a chart where you can pencil in what you did each session. You may be surprised to find just how long (or short) your warm-ups really are. Date it. Doing this will make it possible to measure your progress, and helps keep you on track. The following chart may give you some ideas for your own work out:

Exercise Date 6/1/00 Date 6/2/00 Date 6/3/00
1. long tones 10 minutes-low notes low & high range 5 min. soft-loud-soft
2. Major scales . flat keys .
3. Minor scales Key of C, G, Bb
natural minor
. key of D, Ab, E
melodic minor
4. Chrom.scale - use metronome eighth-notes
m.m. = 60
. .
5. Tuning - use tuner tuned octaves . worked on tuning 5ths
6. Tongueing - use metronome sixteenths at m.m. = 60 triplets at m.m. =60 .
7. ii-V-I pattern . all keys with play-along CD .
8. Scale-tone 7ths . . .

From this list, I can select which exercises to play each session. Consider making your own chart with fundamentals (long tones, scales) and exercises that will concentrate on your specific interests and problem areas. It may take some time to settle into a comfortable routine, but once it becomes routine, it should be more difficult to stray from it. Add and delete exercises from time to time. Remember, do whatever it takes to keep you focused on the warm-ups. If it means setting up a clock or timer on the stand, do it. Commit to a specific length of time, and don't let your mind wander until you've completed your warm-up objectives. —Harry Fackelman