I hear of many piano players that do "warm up" excercises (and by that, they mean that they play on the piano a bit, for example Hanon, or things like that). I myself have also made the experience that after some minutes of playing, my playing gets smother, and the likelyhood I "miss" a key (miss in the sense that the force applied to the key actually is too small, which results in the key remaining silent) shrinks. I especially observe the same effect (stronger keystrokes, basically) when I exaggerated the movements before, and pressed the keys way stronger than they usually should be pressed.

An explanation I have read once (don't know anymore where I have read that) is that those kind of "warm-up-exercises" result in a (temporarely) higher tonus of the muscles, which results in a temporarely perceived higher ability to press keys. Is this explanation valid?

Are the observations that I have made all linked to "warming up" helping my playing? What exactly does warming up do to my muscles and my tendons, that leads to a higher ability of playing smooth runs on the piano?

Edit: To be honest I'm rather unhappy with the question having been migrated to this page, because a) it is common to do "warming up'" on the piano (In the way I described), b) it doesn't have that mutch to do with the warm ups in sports (stretching and such), and c) I would have hoped for opinions of pianoplayers and there experiences with "warming up". I haven't been asked wether I want this question to be migrated either.

  • There’s a physical fitness stack that might have people who know the general medical and anatomical background for all kinds of warmup. – Todd Wilcox Jul 2 '18 at 1:53
  • I disagree with the assumption, that this is a purely physical aspect. Playing easy stuff also helps to focus the mind before it is strongly required. – guidot Jul 2 '18 at 6:58

Not particularly the appropriate site for this question, but warming up is the same as for any physical activity.

Increased blood flow will carry nutrients to the muscles, and carry waste products away from them. The tendons (and, I think) ligaments will all get gently stretched, which aids greater mobility. Better blood flow through the brain obviously helps! And pre-performance nerves, brought on by adrenaline flow always helps.

Hand/eye co-ordination will improve during piano playing warm-up, due to repetition and re-visiting appropriate energy used to press keys. Although this relates specifically to piano, other instruments - brass and woodwind (and strings - including guitars) all need the warming up process too.

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  • There's significant evidence that stretching may increase mobility but decrease brute strength. Current procedure for athletes is to stretch but allow at least 20 minutes after stretching before starting the competition. Granted this should not matter to musicians. – Carl Witthoft Jul 2 '18 at 12:12
  • @Carl Witthoft - Tim doesn’t seem to be suggesting stretching in his answer. He simply states that a warmup will (by the simple nature of movement) stretch the muscles and tendons slightly. – JustSnilloc Jul 2 '18 at 16:31
  • @JustSnilloc np; I was adding a comment that might be useful to folks in this site who are not musicians. – Carl Witthoft Jul 2 '18 at 18:03

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