The body, mind, spirit of warm up

As a professional musician there are times when I seem to go from gig to gig. I am currently in one of those periods of time. This post is particularly timely for me. I am writing today about the various ways to warm up and the positive impact on practicing and performing music.

The physical warm up process can take several forms.  One can warm up the whole body via cardiovascular exercises. These exercises are designed to get blood flowing, stimulate circulation, and oxygenate the blood. Whole body warm up can range from high impact aerobic exercises to running and/or jumping. Low impact exercises such as walking or half sun salutations can work as well.

A follow up to the whole body work may involve flexing and relaxing smaller muscles. Proper functioning of the neck, back, jaw and spine are especially important to the overall comfort and flexibility of one’s body. Muscles specific to one’s instrument are also important to target. These exercises usually involve slower, gentler movements.

Mentally warming up facilitates feeling relaxed and focused when playing a musical instrument. Your mental focus will help you put aside distractions and anxiety. Your practice will be more productive and efficient. You will make better choices about how to use your limited time, choosing to practice what needs to be worked on and avoiding over practicing.

Mental focus happens as a result of warming up physically. During exercise, endorphins are released leading to an overall feeling of wellbeing. Your good feelings could help you experience flow when you play your music. Even if flow doesn’t happen on a particular day, just putting aside some worries will present a much more positive experience when playing your instrument.

A spiritual warm up would be the culmination of physically and mentally warming up. Try including a short meditation. You will become even more strongly connected to your song. You may find yourself composing, coming up with new performing ideas, or creative projects that get overridden by daily life responsibilities.

Now you are ready for those warm up exercises that your violin teacher taught you such as scales and arpeggios. These exercises are important too and will offer richer benefits if they happen when the body, mind, and spirit are warmed up. You may find that a breathing “vinyasa” can be incorporated into an open string practice. Or that concentrating so intensely on pitch in your scales creates a self-induced “sound bath.”

Warming up can be just as creative as the music you perform. Perhaps warming up, practicing and performing music is really all the same thing. Music may even be the actual manifestation of the body, mind and spirit connection.

The Inspiration for Violinists card deck
This “Warm up” card is part of a 50 card deck. Every card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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