A Quick and Efficient Warm-Up Exercise for the Left Hand
“Warming up increase your chances of delivering the best possible performance, right here, right now”
Everybody understands the importance of a good warm-up before a performance, recording or even a practice session. The main point is to get the blood running through the parts of your body you’re about to use and depend on. And it’s not only about avoiding injuries. Warm, stretched muscles help you deal better with nervousness and mental pressure when you’re about to hit the stage or perform a perfect take in the studio.
A guitarist’s hands have different tasks to perform while playing. The right hand uses one group of muscles; the left one uses another group of muscles. That’s why the warming-up process for each hand is different. The most common approach among guitarists is to run Scales exercises. But in my experience, to feel totally warmed up and ready to play, you have to run scales back and forth for at least 40 minutes. And you need to do different scales, with different fingering gaps and different techniques (alternative picking, upstrokes, legato), to be ready for anything at a given moment.
When you’re about to hit the stage, you usually already have other problems to take care of. Something always goes wrong, or something unpredictable happens, so you can’t always afford 40 peaceful minutes to warm up.
What works for me is two 3-minute sessions for the left and right hand separately. I’m going to give you a right-hand exercise in one of the later articles but here’s the left hand warm-up:
SPIDER (no use of right hand at all)
Place your fingers on the first four frets on the same string. Move your fingers one by one to the next string while keeping the other fingers where they were.
Running this all the way from the first to the sixth string, up and down, and using it backwards (4-3-2-1) will get your left hand (and brainJ) ready to perform in about 3 minutes. Since the first four frets are the largest ones on the guitar neck, this exercise will warm up your fingers and stretch them at the same time. After that, soloing and chord-changing will go smoothly and easily.
I hope this exercise will help you use the last couple of minutes before an important performance to get your left hand warmed up and lubricated so you can concentrate on your feelings right from the start.