Warming up is something that flutists talk about and when asked for a routine, there are as many warm-ups as there are flutists. So, it’s not surprising that I have my own take on this. What I’m posting here is entirely my opinion, based on my own professional experience. Because this is a multi-faceted topic, I’ll be posting several different times, covering different aspects.
I think we worry too much about “what to do” and tend to spend too long doing it. Mostly, though, I think there’s a tendency to lose track of what we’re warming up. So, let’s talk first about a component of the flute that isn’t your instrument – your body.
I find that my warm-up is different if I’m playing in the morning vs. the afternoon or even evening. Why? Well, in the morning you haven’t used much of the mechanics of your body yet. You haven’t spoken too many words, you may not be as alert, even not having walked around much all may have an impact on the flexibility of muscles, the quality of air flow in your body, even the muscles in your arms and abdomen really haven’t done much. What this suggests is that a morning warm-up should be a bit more careful, paying attention to all these physical aspects. Don’t push your muscles, be they lip, cheeks, arms, lungs too much, too soon. Stay in the middle to upper-lower register and play medium tempo scales, ensuring that you don’t go too high or too low, both of which ranges can be stressful on the embouchure and not set you up for a productive practice.
How long should this take? This is controversial, to be sure, but I disagree with those that say they warm-up for 20 minutes. Frankly, at that point, they’re practicing. You know yourself and when you feel ready to move to etudes, technique, tone, repertoire. My opinion is that a brief, but focused warm-up is the best way to go.
More to come in later posts!