Douglas Niedt

WHOLE-BODY WARM-UP EXERCISES
FOR THE CLASSICAL GUITARIST
AWAY FROM THE GUITAR

Douglas Niedt, guitarist

"Douglas who?"

Douglas Niedt is a successful concert and recording artist and highly respected master classical guitar teacher with 50 years of teaching experience. He is Associate Professor of Music (retired), at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Fellow of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management—Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Doug studied with such diverse masters as Andrés Segovia, Pepe Romero, Christopher Parkening, Narciso Yepes, Oscar Ghiglia, and Jorge Morel. Therefore, Doug provides solutions for you from a variety of perspectives and schools of thought.

He gives accurate, reliable advice that has been tested in performance on the concert stage that will work for you at home.

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WHOLE-BODY WARM-UP EXERCISES
FOR THE CLASSICAL GUITARIST
AWAY FROM THE GUITAR

By Douglas Niedt

Copyright Douglas Niedt. All Rights Reserved.
This article may be reprinted, but please be considerate and give credit to Douglas Niedt.


It is alarming how many guitarists, and musicians in general, report serious and sometimes debilitating injuries to their hands. Entire websites and books devote themselves to musicians' injuries. I always thought most classical guitarists knew how important it is to warm up their hands before practicing their pieces to prevent injury. But according to the statistics, apparently, that is not so.

I have been playing the guitar for 63 years and still practice for 4-6 hours daily. I have had, at the most, four mild hand injuries lasting a few days during my entire career. I attribute that partly to genetics. But I have had few hand problems mainly because I warm up very carefully for at least an hour before practicing any pieces. That warm-up routine consists of scales, arpeggios, spider exercises, etc.

But what most classical guitarists and other musicians forget to do, is to warm up their bodies in general. A whole-body warm-up routine is essential to increase the blood flow to all the muscles. In addition, it improves the range of motion and freedom of movement of the arms, shoulders, neck, legs, lower back, forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers.

Honestly, I never did a whole-body warm-up routine in my younger days. But as I approach my 70th birthday this year, I'm experiencing stiffness in my muscles and creaking of joints that were not there 50 years ago—surprise, surprise.

I stumbled across the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) website about a year ago. I found their fact sheet, "Don't Cramp Your Style! Warm-up Exercises for Musicians." I do their warm-up routine before, during, and after my practice sessions. I even do it a few extra times outside of my guitar practice sessions. I find it makes my entire body feel much better. It increases mobility and flexibility and lessens muscle and joint discomfort.

If you search "whole-body warm-up routine" on the web, you will find countless routines and advice, many of which I am sure are very good. Also, many people like to do yoga, pilates, or other systems for whole-body health. But I like this routine because BAPAM developed it specifically for musicians.

THESE EXERCISES ARE NOT JUST FOR OLD GUYS LIKE ME. THEY ARE FOR CLASSICAL GUITARISTS AND OTHER MUSICIANS OF ALL AGES AND SKILL LEVELS.

By the way, I find that #6, the "Pulse Raiser," does wonders to alleviate and prevent lower back pain. Also, I add a few additional exercises: touching my toes, other leg and calf stretches, jumping jacks, and wall pushups.


Be sure to check out the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine website. It is a remarkable, outstanding resource. BAPAM is a medical charity providing free, expert health services to those working or studying in the performing arts.

Musicians can access free clinical assessments for physical and mental health problems. BAPAM clinicians understand the demands of a creative career and will help diagnose problems and give practical advice to get you back to work effectively. Free psychotherapy is also available to eligible musicians through BAPAM's partnership with Help Musicians on the Music Minds Matter scheme.

To help musicians prevent problems and build a healthy and sustainable career, BAPAM shares essential knowledge in free online training sessions.

If you have concerns about work-related issues such as playing-related pain, hearing, vocal health, mental health, or returning to creative work after illness or injury, find out more at www.bapam.org.uk, or get in touch by emailing info@bapam.org.uk.


The Fact Sheet is displayed below. BAPAM also has another excellent fact sheet, "Performance Health Guide for Instrumentalists." Scroll to the bottom of this page to download either document.

Douglas Niedt's Ultimate Guitar Fretboard and Staff Chart

DOWNLOADS

Download a PDF of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine "Don't Cramp Your Style" Fact Sheet.

Download a PDF of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine "Performance Health Guide for Instrumentalists Fact Sheet.