I have heard other musicians say that they can easily play in top form without warming up if they've been playing in the last day or two. This doesn't work for me, but everyone is different. I suspect these people are the exception, and most of us, like athletes, need to condition and prepare our muscles daily for the rigors that we put them through in playing a brass instrument.
Here's a basic outline of my warm-up, which I vary somewhat from day to day, to keep it from getting tedious. As you can see, the main focus is on lip slurs, which I believe to be extremely beneficial for all players.
The patterns for the lip slur exercises can be repeated many times more than written before going to the next position.
By the way, these are not my original exercises. I've picked them up (and modified some of them) over the years from method and study books by Remington, Stamp, Marsteller, Steiner, and others. The other main component of my warm-up, which I haven't included here, is playing a couple of Bordogni (Rochut) vocalises every day.
All the lip slur exercises use the usual 1st to 7th or 7th to 1st position patterns. I won't write the positions on every exercise; once you've done a few the positions will be obvious. Valve instruments: you know the corresponding routine with the chromatic descending valve patterns.
Start with articulated scales, mid to low range, medium dynamic. Use this sixteenth note pattern to loosen up the tongue. Breathe only where indicated, but take some extra time (a beat or so) to get a good, relaxed breath.
Start this slow, easy lip slur exercise on low E, where you finished the scale exercise.
Exercise #3, 4
Getting a bit faster and higher with the lip slurs.
Scales – play as written, then from day to day alter the articulations. Also play melodic minor, and modal scales, sometimes going up, sometimes down.
More lip slurs – increasing the range.
Play this low slurring exercise quickly, and many times. It will loosen the lip up nicely in preparation for the higher range exercises to follow.
Preparing for high range exercises.
Beginning to extend the range.
Getting used to the higher notes. Be flexible with the time, taking your time on the half notes (quasi fermata). Stop and breathe when you need to.
Another, more flexible lip slur exercise going up to high B-flat.
Extending the range further. Breathe only where indicated, and hold the pedal notes for a long time to relax the lip. Play the tenuto notes quasi fermata.
Scales going into the high range. Breathe only where indicated. Extend the scales higher if you wish.
Time to relax the embouchure, and work on some low notes.
An unusual exercise that makes use of contrary motion with the slide. Tongue only the first note of each group, and be sure to follow the slide positions indicated.
Finally, one more high range exercise: tongued arpeggios going up to high F. Keep going higher if you can!
After you finish your warm up, feel free to visit Kevin's website!
Kevin Thompson leads a busy life as a professional trombone and euphonium player: he was formerly the Trombone Section Principal of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and is an internationally renowned euphonium soloist.