Warming-Up With Your Brass Instrument

By E.J. Swider

E.J. Swider, Brass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

E.J. Swider

Many young brass players often overlook the importance of warming up every time they play their horn. When we play brass instruments, we are extensively engaging the muscles of our embouchure (the muscles around the lips), as well as the tongue. You wouldn’t lift weights or do any extensive physical exercise without first doing a little stretching first, right? Well, warming up is the exact same thing. The process is pretty similar between the different brass instruments.

When you begin warming up, you should start in the mid to low register of your instrument. Start at a slow tempo with no large leaps. A simple scale or chromatic pattern would work great. If you play the trombone some easy glissandos would also be appropriate. Another side to warming up is recognize how your air is moving. You want to make sure that your air is consistent and even throughout.

After a minute or two of that portion of the warm up it is a good idea to continue with the same types of patterns in the upper register. How high you should go depends on where you are in your playing. After this, it is a good idea to play some lip slurs. This consists of changing notes while only using one fingering or slide position. This is practiced to increase your efficiency and cleanliness of slurring between those notes.

At this point you should just about be completely warmed up and ready to continue on with your normal practice session. If you want to warm up even more I would suggest playing some simple patterns in the extreme high and low ranges. This will increase your familiarity with those notes. You can also practice some fast articulated passages to focus on warming up your tongue.

Remember, you should warm up every day or you can risk hurting yourself. Enjoy!

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