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Clarinet Playing Advice – Warming Up (Video 3/3)

23rd April 2019

In the final video of this mini-series, we talk about the importance of warming up. Often overlooked, the warm up should form a strong part of your overall practice time and regime. Nick talks about the books he uses and why it’s so crucial to warm up properly, whatever your level and experience.

Let’s be honest, how many of us actually allocate a set time period, or set exercises for warm up? Hopefully some, but we’re all guilty of being tight for time and just going straight to the repertoire. However, we MUST try and break that bad habit. Check out some tips below and FAQ’s around this topic:

Why Is It So Important?

As Nick mentions, playing a Wind instrument requires a physical effort. Like any athlete, we should spend some time warming the relevant muscles to get prepared for full exertion. This means getting air through your system, warming up the embouchure muscles and of course getting your fingers moving.

How Long Should I Warm Up For?

Nick mentions early in the video that if he plans on a 3hr practice session, the first hour of that would be warming up. We know that many people don’t have this time to allocate for practicing. So, don’t focus on the time Nick mentioned but focus on the proportion. For example, his warm up takes up around a third of his overall allocated time. If you practice for 45 mins per day, it’s good to work on allocating 15 minutes of that time (one third) to warm up.

What Should I Do?

There are a large array of exercise and study books available. Nick informed us that the following have all been of use to him:

  • Paul Jeanjean: Vade Mecuum
  • Jaques Lancelot: Ecole du Mécanisme vols 1 & 2
  • Jaques Lancelot: Exercices de vélocité
  • Avraham Galper: Tone, Technique & Staccato
  • Fritz Kroepsch: 416 Progressive Daily Studies

Some of these are out of print now but you can pick them up used or from special order.

If you don’t want to try these exercise books then even simply playing some scales, perhaps by changing rhythm and/or ‘direction of travel’ can help. Also, long sustained notes can help warm & strengthen embouchure muscles.


Many thanks to Nick and Yamaha UK for producing this mini-series of 3 videos. If you wish to read the other two articles and see the videos, please check out the links below:

Video 1 – Clarinet Practice Tips & Techniques

Video 2 – Alternate Fingerings for Clarinet (Throat Bb, Long Bb, High G)

Nick plays on a Yamaha YCL-CSGIIIHL clarinet and uses D’Addario Woodwinds reeds. Please sign up to our Clarinet Newsletter to get the latest Clarinet tips, advice, offers and equipment reviews.