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.
[Click thumbnails for larger sheet music images. Scroll down for audio examples and more web extras.]
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- like rhythm.
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 yourself rhythmically.
- Audio examples and web extras - refer to sheet music also on pp. 28-29 of the July 2010 issue.
- Podcasts and on-the-road videos from Matt
- Video interview and Rob Thomas performance snippets.
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