The Warm-Up: Four Parts

As trumpet players, warming up is something that should not be neglected.  However, it also should not be a rigid set of exercises or drills that we do everyday regardless.  Doing that kind of routine quickly gets stale, and it’s easy to start going on “auto-pilot”, especially first thing in the morning.  What we want is a short (10-20 minute) session that gets us ready to play, or practice.  Doing a warm-up helps avoid injury, and is a chance everyday to reenforce good playing habits.

    We want to be able to change our warm-up around each day depending on how much time we have, or what we have to do that day, or how we are feeling.  Sometimes, particularly after many heavy playing days in a row, my lips will just feel terrible in the morning, and it takes 15 minutes to find my sound and get the air moving; whereas other days I feel like I don’t need to warm up at all, and am ready to go from the start.
    My overall philosophy on warming up is starting from the very easiest and most basic, and slowly expanding out to things that are more demanding or specialized.

A warm-up should be flexible, but always include the following 4 parts:

Pre warm up:
I usually start with a few breathing exercises, timed counting in or out, with or without holds, or simply start by blowing 5 really good full breaths through the trumpet.  

1. Tone Production

For the first few minutes of my playing, I simply trying to get a good tone, and a controlled, focused sound. Then I focus on getting an easy flow of air through the trumpet. I don’t want to do anything that might stress the engine, just get it warmed up and running. Nothing higher than a G top of the staff, and nothing super loud.
Things I do during this period would be:

                             Easy slurred half scales or long tones
                             Lip bends (bending the pitch down and back up)
                             Cichowicz Flow Studies or Stamp 3B
                             Easy Lyrical Etudes or Improvising in that style.


Once I have my sound/flow sort of happening, I try to get it moving around quickly.  I try to be able to move from one pitch to another smoothly and quickly, connecting any intervals with a thick, supported air-stream.   Starting with easy lip slurs, I’ll then move into move difficult ones, that include a wider range and dynamics. Eventually working on octaves, and lips trills. Note that at this point I have not done anything that is tongued. Specific Exercises I might use are:

                           Bai Lin Lip Flexibilities
                           Irons Lip Flexibilities 

3. Tonguing

Now it’s time to start cleaning up the beginnings of our notes.  I always start this section by doing some easy slow tonguing (start on a middle G or F) and concentrate on cleaning up the very start of each note. Then I will slowly move up and down to include a wider range, and start doing some longer, faster strings of notes, trying to keep the same fluid and lyrical air stream that I had while slurring. Specific things I like to use are:

                          Sachs Articulation (Page 6 of his Daily Fundamentals)
                          Clarke 2nd Study (slurred then tongued)
                          Gekker Articulation Studies #1

4 Advanced Trumpet Skills

At this point, I generally feel pretty warmed up, and if I have time left, I will go into more advanced trumpet skills.  These can also be left until later and expanded into a full practice session by themselves, but if you have time, it’s good to hit most of them quickly in a warm up. You can also tailor these to what you have to do that day trumpet-wise.  These might include:

                         High/ Soft Attacks

                         Wide Intervals
                         Multiple Tonguing
                         Pedal Tones
                         High notes
                         Dynamic extremes
                         Piccolo and other alternate horns

   If possible, I try to leave some time after a warm up to let my lips rest and for all of this to “sink in”.  Sometimes this is not possible, but it usually makes me feel better for the rest of the day.

Classical Trumpet Performance, Teaching

​John Freeman