Warm-Ups and Routines You May Not Know – Part I – Ifor James

One of my summer projects has been an article for The Horn Call on daily routines.  I’ve finished the article and submitted it, and it should be appearing in the May, 2011  issue.  I thought in the interval I would give blog readers a small preview of some of the materials from the article.  Basically I looked in detail at over 20 different daily routines for the horn, and provided a description and brief analysis of each one’s strengths and weaknesses.  The goal of this project is to help players, especially younger ones, be more aware of the variety of routines out there, and to assist them in making informed decisions when choosing these materials.  Many of the routines were quite familiar to me, and will be to most players, but some of them I had not encountered before working on the article.  One of the lesser known routines (at least to me) was put together by British horn legend Ifor James.  Simply titled Warming Up, his routine was published in 1999 by Editions Marc Reift.  Marc Reift’s website also includes a nice PDF preview.

This routine combines practical advice with inventive exercises, and is definitely worth considering.  In the introduction Professor James offers the following suggestions.

To do these [sic] warm-up every day means that you are doing all basics under incredibly differing conditions and you are learning not only about brass playing but also about yourself.  Try this warm-up exactly as it stands for about two months.  Then please feel free to change whatever you like, but do not leave any of the techniques out. p. 3

The routine begins with a pre warm-up, consisting of relaxed harmonic series patterns on the B-flat horn – something rarely seen in the United States.  Long tones, lip trills, repeated attacks, single tonguing, scales/arpeggios, multiple tonguing, slurs, and tongued octaves then follow.  Detailed explanations precede each exercise, as well as indications to rest.  A shorter warm-up and three variations on the original routine are also included, which allow the materials to be adapted depending on playing demands and time constraints.

If you aren’t familiar with this routine, check it out – even if you don’t end up using the whole thing you’ll probably find something you can incorporate into your existing routine.

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