Warming up - March or hymn tunes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by T Winch, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    What is is the most effective method of starting a rehearsal?
    Our conductor always starts our rehearsal by blasting down a march (including D.C) which is fine if everyone has taken the trouble to warm up properly beforehand but as most people haven't bothered this can lead to tired lips before the practice gets started.
    People might find them a bit boring but I've always found the playing of hymn tunes encourages players to listen to each other and improves tuning, tone, breath control, phrasing etc whereas playing down a march (not stopping to rehearse it) just encourages players to see who can blow loudest. I would be interested in hearing other peoples views on this.
  2. sunny_jimbob

    sunny_jimbob Member

    I always use a couple of hymns in my own warm up before the band starts playing, but I agree, I like to go through a couple of hymns with the band to help get my ears 'warmed up' as well as my lips! A march would be OK once everyone's warmed up, but I find personally it's better to warm up a bit more gently at first.
  3. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I've always used hymn tunes - most marches are too strenuous for the beginning of a rehearsal, particularly if players are having to travel some distance to the rehearsal and may not arrive in time to warm themselves up properly, or if the rehearsal venue is not available in enough time before the rehearsal to allow individual warmups.
  4. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Has the MD asked whether he/she would like the players to have warmed up sufficiently prior to rehearsal?

    Some MDs may view that having to warm the band up cuts too much into valuable rehearsal time. On the other hand, cold players going straight into a rehearsal may lead to poorer quality towards the end.

    I personally think it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they're warmed up prior to rehearsal as we all have our own ways of warming up anyway.
  5. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    I agree that in an ideal world it should be each individual players responsibilty to ensure that they are properly warmed up but it is not allways possible to arrive at a rehearsal 10 - 15 minutes early to go through your warm-up regime plus you don't get the benefits I mentioned from warming up as a band
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I agree that individuals should be warmed up before practice starts - although that can be difficult with people arriving in a hurry straight from work - but I think it still needs something to enabe the band to "bed down" together, adjusting tuning and feeling comfortable as an ensemble. Our bandmaster has no hard and fast rule about this, but he will usually select a tutti section, so that at least everyone is playing from the off, rather than anyone having to start the practice with a solo or exposed chamber music writing.
  7. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    The RED Books.
    You know what i mean by those
  8. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    In Salvation Army terms, that means the pre 1980 (?) tune books ;)
  9. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I have six fingered friends that prefer the GREEN books. They can't wait for Christmas!:wink:
  10. Mrs Womble

    Mrs Womble Member

    We normally do a couple of hymn tunes out of the red hymn tune book, and one of them is always number 43 :roll:
    Sometimes our MD also likes to play a humn tune to warm down to, again normally number 43!!
  11. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    Agreed, hymn tunes are the best way to warm up.

    After an initial run-through or two, I like the MD to alter things somewhat - read it up a half-step, cut dynamic markings in half, insert 16th notes (uh, semi-quavers?) in place of quarter notes (crotchets?) to warm up the tongue as well, along with ratcheting up the dynamics to ear-crushing levels at the end of the warmup.

    I think it's vital that the band practice these skills as a group, particularly the pianissimo passages in the hymn tunes (how many times have you heard bad entrances due to inconsistent breathing?), because it's often working through these nuances that break the cobwebs and get people into the proper frame of mind for rehearsal.

    I once knew a military bandmaster who would conduct what he called "physical training rehearsal". He would do these after the band returned from vacation during which little or no playing occurred.

    It would be two-and-one-half hours of nonstop marches - following the warmup, of course.

    Chops felt like hamburger afterwards, but a few days of that got folks back up to speed. Granted, that kind of work doesn't yield a lot of nuance, but when your bread and butter is playing marches anyway, it doesn't much matter whether or not you can execute a top A at triple pianissimo and do it consistently.
  12. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    Both. A hymn first to warm the chops up and then a march to get the brain and fingers warmed up. Just playing hymns can make you a bit lethargic, ok if you are starting off with a slow piece though.
  13. PowerRanger

    PowerRanger Member

    What? :confused:
  14. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    That is the kind of thing we do at Flixton at the start of rehearsals. Not only is it a warm-up, but it is also working on getting the band to play together as a unit, improving the band sound at different levels of dynamics, and generally getting the band to play better.
  15. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

  16. Veri

    Veri Member

    I like it when we start off with a hymn or two as that gets your lip in and makes you really focus on the music and then a march to get the fingers going!
  17. Deano

    Deano Member

    101 things to do with a hymn tune by Russel Gray are good for warming up, they basically cover the things that Eupher6 mentioned plus playing from memory, swapping parts to give non solo instruments the chance to play the melody and the best of all is playing the parts upside down or reading from back to front bar by bar or from the end to the start. It gets your brain in gear as well as your lips for the rehearsal .
  18. Matt-Trom939

    Matt-Trom939 Member

    We always start by playing through a few hymn tunes, just to warm the band up and make sure everyone is concentrating. We occasionaly look at march then afterwards but not always.
  19. One band I'm in plays a hymn tune to start with, and ends (usually) on a march.

    The other starts and ends with a hymn tune. To start the rehearsal, we play it through normally, then we play it as mf quavers throughout (presumably to get the tonguing going), except for the last note; and then, perhaps play it normally again. I like this method, but I have difficulty playing quietly until I'm warmed up and on quiet hymns, I often miss notes the first time through.
  20. vonny

    vonny Member

    Yeah we normally begin rehearsal with a couple of hymn tunes - one of which i wish was 'always' number 43 :D but isn't :(

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