Canonbury Brass – warmups – backing tracks

Working through a warmup
Backing music – do you want it or need it?


Obviously, it is not vital to use a backing track for your warmup. It's just a little series of things that you do to get ready to play and you can do them just fine with no backing. Experienced musicians who are warming up before practice or a concert will probably not have a backing.

On the other hand, I always use warmup backings in our lessons at school, and I recommend that you do too, as far as possible. Why? What's it all about?

  • It's more fun. You can add variety to how you approach it and the way that you play, by choosing something to suit your mood.
  • It helps give you a sense of purpose and direction.
  • It helps you feel less embarrassed about making silly noises! They are just part of the routine and you can just get on with it with the music.
  • (You might compare this with exercising to music too … just something that helps carry it along a bit …)
  • It gives you a structure and a time limit - try to fit all the parts of the warmup in against the sections or verses of the backing. They are mostly around two or two-and-a-half minutes long, which is about right for a quick warmup.
  • Some of the backings have other things you can do, like playing a well-known riff or shouting "Oy!"
  • … or improvising a bit - some of them are great to play along to and make your own stuff up. Start with a few easy notes around C or D and see where it takes you. There are no mistakes, only new bits of melody!
  • If you are playing with others, even one other you can use the backing to help you do a call and response thing. Just start with two Cs - you play, they copy. Three Cs. C C D … whatever! It is an amazing amount of fun, and good for your playing and your ears.
  • I can make more warmup backings! You probably remember that at the moment we have 15 cards to choose from - yellow, red and orange, to lots of 6 and a 3. I did say that I would eventually expand this to 24 in all - 4 lots of 6. Is there something you would like me to try to make for you?
  • Remember our warmups are often based on tunes but we don't usually hear the tune itself - really we just want the chords to use as a framework.   
  • A lot of professional players would warm up for longer than this and do a lot more exercises. But we are not pro players and we are just trying to get to a comfortable, ready place to work.
  • I was taught the basics of this warmup by a very top jazz trumpet player, Bobby Shew. He seems to have done OK!
  • Bobby's feeling was that you don't need to warm up for hours (and, indeed, we cannot when we are trying to start a 25-minute lesson!) so you just need to do the minimum to get back to where it felt good when you last played comfortably and then stopped - like, yesterday! 
  • Have fun, enjoy, warm up, play.  


You can go to the main Warmups page by clicking this link.
Warmup navigation: Using backing music – Horsey flaps – Buzzy lips – Mouthpiece buzz
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