Junior High Band
Warm-Up Tips


I think the purposes of the warm-up period are fourfold: (1) to get the instruments warmed up to body temperature for intonation, (2) to get the students embouchures warmed up for endurance, (3) to practice starting and stopping together for precision, and (4) to technically challenge all the students for fun.

It would be easy to spend the whole class period warming up. Finding good exercises that achieve the warm-up purposes that do not take too much time can be a challenge. Although we used method books for sight reading and playing tests at the high school, the warm-ups were not written down. We wanted the students to be looking at and following us, not staring at the music.

To save time we gave names to the exercises and developed hand signals which made it easy to move from one exercise to another with little or no break. I used the same system at the junior high but played the exercises slower.

In addition, many of the exercises could be played in quarter notes, eighth notes, or sixteenth notes at the same time, i.e., the tuba can play quarter notes while the trumpets play eighths and the flutes play sixteenths. Once a student mastered an exercise slowly he could always challenge himself by playing it twice as fast.

All of the exercises illustrated here are to be practiced in all major and minor keys. Doing that in one sitting would take a long time. I typically warmed-up the band with long tones and lip slurs, four or five tonguing and rhythm drills, and the chords in a given key. After that, we played the major or minor scales and chromatic.

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.