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I've noticed that I cannot normally play my pieces without warm-up. Sometimes, I can't even normally begin - there will be mistakes for shure. I can play cold, without any warm-up and with no mistakes in the first attempt, only some relatively simple and not fast pieces. For other stuff I need a warm-up, a couple or more of tries, and only then things will go well. Hope it's just because of a lack of experience and that this problem will disappear with years of practice.

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I always remember "The Pianist" movie in such a moments, a scene in the abandoned house where german officer asks Szpilman to play piano. And he, tired, cold and hungry, plays Chopin's Ballade in G minor perfectly. Without any warm-up.


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It's going to be very different for everyone. And it may go either way as you gain more experience.

I need very little warm-up; just enough to get my muscles warm enough so that I do not hurt myself (like you would before exercising). I need far more mental warm-up than physical warm-up, even if playing just for myself and my four cats. I know some pros who want an hour or more to warm up. I know an international pro who I worked with for a few days who went from dinner back to his hotel, arrived at the concert no more than 5 minutes before going out on stage, IN THE NORTHERN MINNESOTA WINTER, sat down, and played just wonderfully.

Also, try warming up with something other than what you plan on playing, even if it's just five-finger scales. I know some people who won't touch their program at all during their warm-up, whereas others use it as a way to work out a few details before performing. The latter can really freak out one's psyche, though, as you get nearer that portion of the music during your performance (even if just performing for yourself).

I don't think you need to "hope" it gets better, either. I don't know much of any specialized activity--sports, writing, music, etc--that can be started perfectly cold, even among the best. But, yes, I understand that if someone randomly asks you to play something, you would like to do the best you can, and you feel that your best comes only after a few tries. I get that, I do, but I wouldn't worry about it too much, because then it surely becomes a mental game.


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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
I've noticed that I cannot normally play my pieces without warm-up. Sometimes, I can't even normally begin - there will be mistakes for shure. I can play cold, without any warm-up and with no mistakes in the first attempt, only some relatively simple and not fast pieces. For other stuff I need a warm-up, a couple or more of tries, and only then things will go well. Hope it's just because of a lack of experience and that this problem will disappear with years of practice.

P.S.:
I always remember "The Pianist" movie in such a moments, a scene in the abandoned house where german officer asks Szpilman to play piano. And he, tired, cold and hungry, plays Chopin's Ballade in G minor perfectly. Without any warm-up.
This latter is Hollywood, and the standard and sentiment of that time is different than today. I'm sure it was heart-felt, but I have doubts about perfection. I've yet to hear it.

So abandon the notion that you can play without warming up. What professional sports player plays a game or runs, etc. without warming up first? The ones who don't sufficiently warm up usually end up injured.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene

So abandon the notion that you can play without warming up. What professional sports player plays a game or runs, etc. without warming up first? The ones who don't sufficiently warm up usually end up injured.


Many injuries in sports can appear right during the exact game not warmed-up player takes part in. You can be severely injuried just in one single moment. While pianists injuries do not appear suddenly in particular playing session. Pianistic injuries can be called cumulative, when some little strains, technical problems, wrong habits, days of playing without warming up etc. accumulate and result in a serious injury one single day. It can take years to ger pianistic injury in contradistinction to sport injury. It's more like disease than injury, probably.
So, may be, cold playing can be safe, if it's done very rarely?


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So, don't play without warming up. Why would you have to? And do start with the easy stuff.



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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
Originally Posted by Morodiene

So abandon the notion that you can play without warming up. What professional sports player plays a game or runs, etc. without warming up first? The ones who don't sufficiently warm up usually end up injured.


Many injuries in sports can appear right during the exact game not warmed-up player takes part in. You can be severely injuried just in one single moment. While pianists injuries do not appear suddenly in particular playing session. Pianistic injuries can be called cumulative, when some little strains, technical problems, wrong habits, days of playing without warming up etc. accumulate and result in a serious injury one single day. It can take years to ger pianistic injury in contradistinction to sport injury. It's more like disease than injury, probably.
So, may be, cold playing can be safe, if it's done very rarely?
"Safe," yes, but don't expect it to be flawless or to feel good. I never feel as good about my playing when I do so cold as when I'm warmed up.

I was mainly concerned with the idea that one "should" be able to play cold and that it's just a matter of getting good enough. I think this is not quite right thinking about being warmed up to play.


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I'm thinking about flute and voice. Yes, I can dive in and sing or play some things without warming up. But I can't sing/play certain types of more technically demanding material until I'm more warmed up. That warmup sometimes happens as a deliberate warmup; sometimes it happens through the course of the first few numbers.

In Argentine tango, when you start a dance, you don't lead your most complicated moves first. You dance very simple steps with your partner, while you're "warming up" to each other: figuring out or remembering how this partner feels and moved instead of the previous person you danced with. Once you've "warmed up" your mutual adjustment, then you can dance wonders that would have failed if you'd tried them cold at the start.

On piano I'm not aware enough even with my own playing to be aware of what the elements are that need warming up or easing into for piano players. But I think by analogy with the above arts, there must be things. Sometimes it might not seem feasible to do a technical warmup - but for those occasions, perhaps you can find some pieces that you can reliably play to get a warmup via playing, before tackling more difficult material.


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Warming up is probably different for v each person. For me it consists of:

1) Practicing Tai Chi for 30 minutes or more. This relaxes my spirit, relaxes my body, allows blood and energy to flow freely. By mind feels quiet and my body warm. All of my cells are awake and ready to go. 😃 This begins the process of flow from my imagination through my body. (It feels water-like).

2) I then begin playing the piano with the very simplest pieces. This creates a connection between me and the instrument. At this time I can't do it with more complicated pieces because my body memory for music had not developed enough. I can do it it Tai Chi and dance because I have been practicing those arts for decades and body intelligence (and I mean intelligence in a very really way) has developed enough to the point that minium warmup is needed. Body intelligence is a process that takes time. Also different for each person and each endeavor. Some are more "natural" than others.

3) When I feel very relaxed and in the groove, when feel the energy flowing, that is when I might try something more complicated - or might not. Nothing is mandatory. I might just keep playing very simple pieces to continue develop spirit(imagination)/body/instrument connection. There is no one way. It's all a process of experimentation which is unique for each person.

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For performance, it is just as important, if not more important, to prepare the mind and spirit, as the body. With that in mind I suggest a mental walk through. A pianist able to do full mental practice sans instrument, tends to be advanced. However, most people can do levels. Some may need the sheet music to prompt them. Many athletes do visualization. I am suggesting something similar, perhaps with humming, or audiation if a person is more skilled.

Many amateurs tend to do the opposite of what this thread is about. They do way too much physical practice on performance day and leave their best effort in the practice room. One physical walk through is what I suggest. Maybe only the start and a few hard sections for a longer piece. Mental practice is different, so do as much of that as desired.

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I seem to play best "cold" as long as I am in the right mental state to start. Warming up does not seem necessary or useful. But maybe that is because I am not a "physical" player, I rely more on my mind and my ears for control than on my muscles.

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If you need to warm up so be it. I cannot perform accurate scales until I warm up, so my initial scales are always at a speed I can maintain accuracy. If I start off too fast, accuracy falls and seems to filter into every subsequent scale.

of late I have been learning two pieces both of which require trilling in the right hand, third and fourth fingers. I though just trilling practice would be enough but after four or five months there was little improvement until I started my own exercise regime (a sort of mix of Hanon and Schmitt). Now I cannot perform the improved trills without the exercise first which does not surprise me.



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For me, warm up has to be on the actual piano. A critical part of it is adapting to the individual instrument you're going to play.



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