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Snare Drum Warm-Up, Part 1

Start with the big muscles.

The first in a five-part series about developing the ideal snare drum warm-up routine.

As an educator and professional performer, I have noticed that over the years, my practice time has decreased for one reason or another. I have also found that the older I get, the harder it is for me to start playing without first warming up.

Creating a warm-up routine is an individual process and what works for me will not necessarily work for everyone. That said, a good warm-up:

1)  Is a reasonable length. If it is too short, it won’t be effective; if it is too long there won’t be enough time to do it every day. The routine I’ll be presenting in these articles takes just 10 – 15 minutes from start to finish.

2)  Starts with big muscles and moves to smaller muscles.

3)  Evolves over time. As you learn new repertoire, you need to adapt the warm-up to help with the technical demands.

Element #1: Warming Up the Big Muscles

The goal of this exercise is to get your big muscles moving. It’s also a time to forget about everything else that is going on in your life and listen to the sound you are creating on your instrument.

Musical annotation.

Start with a classic “8 on a hand”:

Then move on to a “clone” of the exercise:

Musical annotation.

(This term comes from Teaching Percussion by Gary Cook. He uses “cloning” to mean having both hands playing at the same time.)

Advanced players can add this exercise, which incorporates different stroke types:

Musical annotation.

F = Full Stroke, D = Down Stroke, U = Up Stroke

Remember to start at a slow tempo and use a big range of motion to get your muscles loose. Use a metronome and track your progress.

Check out the other postings in our Snare Drum Warm-Up series:

Part 2: Transitioning to the small muscles

Part 3: Accent patterns and wrist lifts

Part 4: Adding flams to the equation

Part 5: Wrap it up with rolls

Keep reading