Is it necessary to play scales and do other piano exercises before you play?
Your piano teacher will probably tell you that you must practice playing every day; and the proper way to get your fingers limber enough to navigate difficult musical pieces is to begin with warm up exercises that are designed specifically for training your hands and fingers. Unfortunately, the majority of these finger exercises are so boring that piano teachers must coax and cajole their reluctant piano students into doing them at all!
Maybe your hands have started off a little stiff and uncoordinated when you first sit down at the piano on a cold winter day. But as your playing progresses, you find that your fingers limber up as you use them. Perhaps this has led you to wonder if doing all these scales and other exercises on a daily basis is really necessary.
If the piece you are performing is a fast and technically difficult piece of music, then doing some exercises to stretch and limber your fingers may be beneficial before you sit down and actually begin the music. But if that is not the case, then there are other things you could do that would help to get you into the proper frame of mind to tackle the challenging music.
Alternatives to Playing Scales to Limber Up the Hands and Fingers
Exercises may be designed to warm you up before you work, but do your scales and other finger exercises target the muscles and movements that you will really need for a particular piece? In the same way you would not expect bicep curls to be of much benefit to the leg muscles of a runner, some finger exercises will not be supportive of certain musical compositions. If, for example, your music involves complex rhythms or chords that stretch the hands, then perhaps it would be better to prepare by doing exercises that incorporate these movements.
Playing a piece that is less technically complex but you enjoy is another good way to limber up before a performance. You will feel good about the music, and enjoy the activity instead of tuning out for another boring set of scales. You may even begin to look forward to your practice sessions if you get to start out right away with something you really like to do. Technical precision is only a part of an effective piano performance, you can also explore your musicality and lyrical playing.
Ideas for a meaningful piano warm up
Make your warm up relevant to what you are going to practice.
Play something easy and beautiful – something that will make you feel inspired.
View your warm up as a mental preparation as well as a physical one.
This does not mean that you should never play scales again!
Playing scales and other finger exercises has a definite place in learning to play the piano! They cannot be ignored altogether, but should be integrated into a successful regimen that includes broken chords, scales, fingering progressions and pieces that you enjoy doing in order to make a difference in your playing!
Which are your Best Piano Warm-Ups?
What gets you in the right mood for practicing the piano? Please give us and your fellow readers some more tips about how you can avoid boredom and enter straight into the poetics of the instrument. Don’t forget to “share” this post if you enjoyed reading it.