How to Warm Up on the Piano

Piano Lessons / how to play piano / How to Warm Up on the Piano

This is a very important issue when it comes to playing any instrument. There are books written on how to warm up on the piano and countless techniques and exercises you can utilize. I’m going to share a few tips with you that I use in my own practice and performances. The good news is, none of this is as complicated as you might think.

Let’s start holistically. Any warm-up is predicated on you being physically healthy; if you are ailing from anything such as stiff muscles, soreness, illness, or anything that would hinder your well being, it can affect your performance on the piano. If you suffer from any chronic ailments, you should take your time with easing into playing the piano.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure that your hands are warm. If you have cold hands it means that your blood is not circulating well and if you just start playing virtuoso music without warming up your hands you could do some damage. An easy solution for this is to run warm water over your hands so you feel comfortable before you start playing.

I strongly recommend doing some stretching on a regular basis – whether it’s yoga or simple stretches you would perform before a workout. This can be incredibly valuable to your long-term health as well as keeping you injury free while performing.

One of the most overlooked aspects of playing any instrument is correct posture. When it comes to the piano, posture is crucial to your musical success as well as your health. I have a whole separate video on How to Sit At the Piano that you should watch for more specific information. If you find yourself in a situation where you can play the piano but the bench is not high or low enough you must take the time to correct the problem before playing.

When it comes to actually playing, try starting with something slow. Don’t jump right into advanced music – let your fingers, arms, and hands warm up by playing something slower that will utilize all parts of the body. Some people start with scales. If you do, start playing at 1 note to the beat and with raised fingers which gently stretches the muscles. Gradually build up your speed until you feel comfortable. You don’t have to warm up with scales or arpeggios; you can pick any piece of music and just start slower than normal.

There is no real secret to warming up on the piano. It’s a simple process of making sure you’re mentally and physically prepared. Make sure your hands are warm and comfortable, ensure that you have good posture, start with something slow, and you can enjoy yourself for the long haul!

Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

4 thoughts on “How to Warm Up on the Piano”


  1. This is particularly important for older guys, like me (88 with some arthritis setting in). My favorite stretchers are base on some I got from an Ad Kullak system which involved holding down two keys and flexing three. I find that after about 15 minutes of this plus arpeggios and scales, my technic is fairly satisfactory.

  2. New question:
    I would like your thoughts on the overuse of the sustain pedal, especially in the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. When to use it and when to hold back.

    Thank you, Robert

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