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10 Warmup Exercises Every Jazz Musician Should Know


Level up your practice routine with these 10 jazz warmup exercises.


For Chad LB, one of the biggest questions he gets during a masterclass is “what do you do for warmup exercises?”


There’s an infinite number of possibilities for warmups, but you want to have a balance of challenge and fluency to help with your playing and dexterity.


Here are Chad’s 10 favorite warmup exercises to get you ready for anything!


But before you get started, you’re going to want to check out the PDFs for this lesson. They take you through each exercise in all 12 keys. Plus, be sure to check out our video here, where Chad takes you through the exercises on keyboard and tenor saxophone.


We’ve heard plenty of positive feedback from musicians playing through these warmups with saxophone, piano, guitar and more. Try incorporating them into your practice routine—you’ll be amazed at how it transforms your playing in a short amount of time!


Contents



Exercise 1: Major Scale Mode/Diatonic Exercise 1

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 1


This first exercise is a useful major scale exercise. Your scales are super important, but it’s not enough to learn the scales up and down and say “voilà.” To get the full colors and possibilities of the scales, you need to be able to play different shapes and use them in more creative ways.


For this exercise, we’ll start in C. We’ll step up to the fifth, step back down to the third, then skip to the root.


We’ll do this up the scale from each scale degree, like so:


C D E F G F E C

D E F G A G F D

E F G A B A G E

F G A B C B A F

G A B C D C B G

A B C D E D C A

B C D E F E D B


When we descend, we’re not going to go as high—just up to the 4, then back down to the root. We’ll then skip down to the 6 and restart the shape on the 7. So you’re going to go 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, skip down to 6, start on 7 and repeat the pattern.


For example:

C D E F E D C A

B C D E D C B G


Remember, we have all of this written out in the PDF for you to follow along!


So why do we change the pattern for the descending? Really, it helps with voice leading and keeping the line smooth! Plus, it helps mix up the shape a bit for some extra challenge.