In my touring career with acts like Rob Thomas, Rod Stewart, and
my own band, it has always been challenging for me to find time to practice.
On the road, I don’t always have time for soundchecks, and there
isn’t always a piano backstage for me to warm up on. I’ve found the following
exercises essential in my quest to limber up when time is limited.
Practice them at a moderate tempo, and play each one deliberately
to get the most out of them. Also, they should be repeated over and over,
as if on a loop. Remember, though, never to play until the point of pain.
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Ex. 1 is based on Isidor Philipp’s Exercises for Independence of Fingers.
It’s basically a ten-note diminished ascending arpeggio pattern. What’s
particularly great about this exercise is the minor third that’s spread between
each finger. It’s a wonderful warmup for stretching out your hands.
Ex. 2 is a five-note arpeggio pattern that starts far apart, and works
its way together chromatically. It focuses on the fourth and fifth fingers
of each hand.
Ex. 3 involves diatonic thirds that work the independence of all
your fingers. Be sure to play the notes as legato as possible.
Ex. 4 works the arms and wrists by taking two voicings, C13 and
F13, and alternating them between the left and right hands, using a paradiddle-
Ex. 5 Here’s an étude-like exercise that works the right hand
using major chord arpeggios that go through a progression. Play the
arpeggios as evenly as possible, and use the left hand part to anchor
Matt Beck plays keyboards and guitar with Rob Thomas.
He has also performed with Rod Stewart and Lisa Loeb,
and is currently working with U2’s Bono and the Edge on
their forthcoming musical Spiderman. Beck’s debut solo
album, Anything Which Gives You Pleasure, was just
released at iTunes and CDBaby.com. Jon Regen