Monday, February 1, 2016

WARM-UP with These Uber Ideas!

Winters in Chicago can be brutal, but we have some tasty ideas on how to warm up your chops...and your belly, too! With a dash of long tones here and a pinch of lip slurs there, your embouchure will easily survive these cold months.  Your warm up routine is a savory aspect of your daily ritual, and a lot of care should be taken when cooking up what should be included. Read below for Kelly and Mary Jo’s individual warm up routines, and our favorite winter recipes too!!


Growing up in Alaska you would think that I would take a warm up seriously! But as most high school band kids I had zero time to devote to what is one of the most important tasks of playing a brass instrument.  Once in college I began to understand not only how important a real warm up was but how beneficial it was to my playing in general.  I still to this day warm up with the same routine given/suggested to me by my second horn teacher at Boston University, Rick Menaul (Seth Orgel being my first) .  I remember Rick explaining to me how he liked it because he could take his time if he was feeling tight or sluggish, stretching the warm up out for a good 30 minutes or so…but he could also get through it quickly if he was crunched for time and still feel nice and fresh.  I’ve tried other warm ups over the years but never for long.  As soon as I start this routine my face knows it’s time to work and that’s what a warm up is all about right? Now I have the whole thing memorized but it can all be found in “The Art of French Horn Playing” by Philip Farkas (aka the hornist bible). My copy is from the early seventies so some of the page numbers may have changed but the titles of the exercises should still be the same.

*NOTE* For all the “legato exercises” I find on really stiff days it helpful to start with the lowest pitch, fingered 23, instead of the open set first and work my way up, instead of down.  Just something to try if you find that the higher pitches are not speaking or your lips are not relaxed enough first thing in the day to get them out smoothly and with a good sound. You can find a copy of the book on Amazon by clicking HERE.

MJ’s Daily Warm Up Routine:
  • Mouthpiece buzzing
  • Farkas, Pre-Warm Up, starting on low C instead of the printed G (Pg.32)
  • Farkas, Legato Warm Up, EXERCISE #2 (Pg. 34)
  • Farkas, Legato Warm Up, EXERCISE #3 (Pg. 35)
  • Farkas, Legato Warm Up, EXERCISE #4 (Pg.36)
  • Major Scales, all octaves, slurred or tongued, played in the order of the circle of 5ths

One of my favorite things as a kid was chili, but we didn’t make it we always bought “Nalley” brand chili.  When I moved out east for school and subsequently to the third coast (Chicago) permanently I realized that that brand is a west coast thing and couldn’t find my beloved treat.  My husband and I began working on a simple chili recipe that might fill that void for us! We’ve perfected it to our taste (but it’s a great base for those who want to make it hot) and made it really easy to remember.

Laymaneers’ 3-2-1 Crockpot Chili Recipe

Throw all the below ingredients into the crock pot and cook on high for a few hours! (Feel free to add whatever floats your boat, this is a great base recipe!) We often serve ours over a baked potato with cheese and sour cream or substitute reindeer sausage for the ground beef during the holidays. Rudolph is yummy ;)
  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained (can add onion if desired)
  • 3 (28.5 oz) cans beans  (1 red, 1 pink & 1 black)
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
  • 3 TBSP Chili Powder
  • 2 TBSP Cumin
  • 1 TBSP Salt

Your daily warm-up routine should be in two forms: short form & long form, depending on how much playing you have that day and how much time you have. Regardless of which form you choose for that day, you need to ensure that the warm-up covers the "AXIS of HORN."

Axis of Horn? Yeah, that's a things I just made up. But think of it like this: consider that your RANGE is your X axis, and your articulation is your Y axis, and that you would want to cover every note in your range and at every length (from no tongue to staccatissimo).

Below is a warm-up I wrote several years ago called the Triple Threat Warm up (the triple being that it was the first time I wrote a warm up that warmed me up by register.) The exercises methodically warms up the middle register first, then low, and then high, and this seems to work best for me. 

A few notes about the warm-up:  
1. In the first four measures of this exercise, the player is to internally voice positive affirmations like, "I like the way my instrument sounds", or "I enjoy playing the horn".

From there, the next two exercises focus on the legato-ness lip slurs: I compare this to swinging, let there be some bend off of the upper note to ensure the player is truly moving air through the slurs.

The next exercise is to warm up the low range, again focusing on the legato-ness of the slurs.

Finally we get to the high range, where we again use lip slurs and begin playing on the Bb side to complete the warm up into the highest notes of one's register.  Please observe the glisses, and that these are to be very sloppy and with as much emphasis placed on the notes between the destinations as on the journey itself!

Once you've completed these exercises, I'd encourage you to play your favorite Kopprasch etude to get that tongue moving.

Kelly's Easy Peasy Pulled Pork

Set crockpot to low.
Add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup oil.
Add Pork Loin with fatty side up.
Cook for 8-12 hours.
An hour before dinner add 1/2 a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.  (We like Sweet Baby Rays Original.)

Enjoy on a brioche bun with onion or with garlic mashed potatoes. Top with more BBQ sauce.