How To Warm Up on Piano (& What To Do)

It's great to warm up when playing piano. 

Here we'll take about:

  • why warm up
  • how long you should warm up
  • what you can use to warm up
  • warm up routines
  • my warm up routine
How To Warm Up

Why Warm Up?

Why should you even warm up before playing piano?

There are a few great reasons to warm up. 

1. My main motivation for warming up is that it makes everything else that comes later easier and better to play. It helps you to play more quickly and accurately. 

This makes is nicer to play the songs / pieces that you want to and also less frustrating because you’re making less mistakes. 

2. Another great reason to warm up is developing muscle memory

When you warm up using specific technique, it helps your to learn specific placements and ways of playing that will stick with you - because you’ve practiced it. 

Practicing scales or triads (chords in different inversions) really help you to “know” where the keys are and where you need to play next. 

3. Stretching out the body.

When warming up, we're basically stretching and using our fingers, wrists and arms in a way that gets the blood flowing and allows us to learn and play what we want to play better. 

How To Warm Up

You can warm up a few ways. 

One of the main ways to play “technique”. Technique refers to all the scales, triads, arpeggios and more. These are things that we practice to get in good shape really, in terms of our fingers. 

Many pianists will play scales before starting into their piano pieces. If you’re a beginner, a basic scale is a good way to start. 

The other main way to warm up is to play written warm-up exercises. 

These work only if you’ve learned how to read music somewhat efficiently. 

These piano exercises are just that, exercise for your fingers. A good example is Scales and Finger Exercises (Amazon link - will provide me a small commission).

How Long Should You Spend Warming Up?

So how long should you spend warming up? 

If you’re a beginner, 5 minutes is enough.

If you’d really like to improve how your fingers are behaving - as in you want to become faster or more accurate - then practice technique or exercises for longer. Up to 15 minutes as long as it doesn’t take away your joy of playing. 

More advanced players would practice for longer but honestly, I doubt I ever practiced my technique for longer than 15 minutes even when I was practicing for over an hour a day.

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Create Your Warm Up Routine

You can mix and match thing a few things to create your warm up routine and it doesn't (and shouldn't) be the same every day

If you're a beginner, you can start out with the most simple scale and progress from there. 

Going from C to G in one hand and then learning C major scale going up in each hand is a good start. 

See all the major scales here

If you’ve done scales before, choose one that you haven’t played before. For example, if you’re comfortable with a few major scales, pick a minor scale.

Playing through chords and their inversions or practicing moving from a certain chord to another is good. You’ll see C F G C in the video. 

If you’re not sure about what inversions are that’s okay. You can just start playing through different types of chords to get used to them. 

Visit the chord charts page to pick a few to work on. If you don't know anything about chords, to go what are piano chords

What My Warm Up Routine Looked Like

When I was practicing and learning piano, what I warmed up with depended on which piano grade I was in. The higher the grade, the more complex the technique.

This is basically what I would do:

A major scale (1-4 octaves, hands together or hand separate)

A harmonic minor scale and a melodic minor scale (1-4 octaves, hands together or hand separate)

Triads or 4 note chords, solid and broken (hands together or hands separate)

Arpeggios (hands together or hands separate) 

If I was given any piano exercises, I would also do that here. 

What About You?

What will your warm up routine be?

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