Are you tired of playing the same old flute warmups on your piccolo? Sometimes, tried and true exercises work for a reason, but it never hurts to experiment.
I’ve tried a variety of warmups on my flute and piccolo, and I’ve found some that are quick and not too boring. Be sure to consider the following ideas to spruce up your practice!
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1. Chromatic Long Tones
One of the best flute warmups that you can play on the piccolo is chromatic long tones. A lot of flute players have gone through the Trevor Wye Practice Books for the Flute.
Chromatic long tones show up in the first few pages. You can use the same exercises on your piccolo as you would on your flute, so you can use this book.
Of course, you’ll probably need to stop after the low D unless your piccolo goes lower. Still, you can focus on long tones in the low, middle, and high registers to help improve your piccolo tone.
Another one of the first few exercises from the Wye book is a page of harmonics. Now, those exercises start on low C, so you’ll need to play them with D as the fundamental note.
I’d also recommend you wear earplugs so that you can play the higher harmonics without damaging your hearing. You can use the exercises from the Wye book or make up your own.
Either way, make sure you cover the range of harmonics. You can also play harmonics starting on Eb, E, F, and so on. While you can’t go as high in the series, you can still practice overblowing to reach the higher notes on the piccolo.
3. Taffanel & Gaubert 17 Exercises Journaliers (1 & 2)
I’d also recommend you play the first two exercises from Taffanel and Gaubert 17 Exercises Journaliers. Both exercises start on low D, so you don’t need to transpose anything or leave out notes.
The first exercise has you play five-note scales up and down in all of the major keys. You can play the second exercise if you want to to do the same thing but in minor keys.
I know a lot of flutists like the fourth exercise from the book. But I’ve found that’s harder to memorize, and it goes down to a low C anyway, so you can’t play every note.
4. Moyse 24 Petites Etudes Melodiques
If you want more melodic exercises to try, consider some of the ones from Moyse 24 Petites Etudes Melodiques. Most of the etudes don’t go below low D except for Etudes 10, 13, and 18.
Etude 16 has a few C double sharps, but those are equivalent to D natural. Even in the etudes with low Cs, they’re few and far between, so you can leave out those notes.
Still, 21 out of 24 is a good percentage of etudes to work with. You can play them on your flute and then on your piccolo to help hear how each melody sounds.
5. Moyse De La Sonorite
You can also find some good flute warmups in Moyse’s De La Sonorite. This book has a ton of tone exercises, such as the ones you’ll find in the Trevor Wye book.
But there are some different tone exercises, such as suppleness in the low register. A lot of the patterns Moyse wrote for that exercise don’t have low Cs, so you can play most of them on the piccolo.
I also love the exercise on attacks and slurs. You start in the middle of the range, and you go up and down chromatically, so you can go as far as you can on your piccolo.
6. Scales and Arpeggios
Of course, you can’t go wrong with scales and arpeggios. You can use a book with these exercises, or you can play them from memory or by using your knowledge of music theory.
I’d recommend learning your major, minor, and chromatic scales at least. Learn them in one octave, then two octaves, and finally the whole range.
When it comes to arpeggios, standard triads are a great place to start before adding sevenths. Let me know if you want a list of the best books with flute and piccolo scales and arpeggios.
7. Your Own Flute Warmups
I love making up my own flute warmups to play on my various flutes. You can do this by looking at the music you’re learning and finding the more difficult parts.
Extrapolate those sections and turn them into short exercises. If you’re playing the Vivaldi Concerto in C Major, RV 443, you could use the first measure as an exercise, for example.
I also love using passages from pop songs, especially lyrical melodies. If you have a MuseScore Pro subscription, you can access tons of pop song scores to help figure out the notes.
Best Piccolo Exercise Books
Maybe you don’t want to use the same flute warmups on your piccolo. In that case, I’d recommend looking into a few piccolo-specific exercise books.
Here are some books I’ve used and recommend to players.
The Mazzanti Method
Nicola Mazzanti is a famous Italian piccolo player, and he wrote The Mazzanti Method. It has a few sections to help you focus on tone technique, and your overall sound.
I love how the book has spiral binding, so you just need to open it to the page you want. Some thicker books have normal binding and can be hard to keep from closing up.
When it comes to the exercises, I like that they’re easy to read on the page. Also, a lot of them follow a pattern, and you can transpose them to give yourself more piccolo flute warmups.
The Piccolo Study Book
The Piccolo Study Book by Patricia Morris is another one of my favorite piccolo books. It has a few short tone warmups that you can do before you play your piccolo.
But the majority of the book is etudes that are one or two pages long. You’ll find that the etudes are mostly written for other instruments, but they work well on the piccolo.
The book isn’t too long, so you can go through it relatively quickly. You can also skip around to find etudes that can help you reach your specific practice goals.
Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo
If you’ve studied orchestral music, you may have the Baxtresser book Orchestral Excerpts for Flute. Well, Jack Wellbaum compiled a similar book called Orchestral Excerpts for Piccolo.
The book contains a lot of popular excerpts from composers such as Beethoven, Bartok, and Shostakovich. It’s an excellent resources if you currently play in an orchestra or want to.
You can use a lot of the excerpts as flute warmups even if you aren’t playing those pieces. And if you do use the excerpts as warmups, you might not need to practice as much if you ever get to play the full works.
Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Piccolo
Along with the flute books, Trevor Wye wrote a Practice Book for the Piccolo. The book has a few tone warmups towards the beginning, but the majority of the book is excerpts.
You’ll find more excerpts in here than the other excerpt book. I like that the notation is also all uniform, so it can be easier to read than some orchestral scores.
However, that can make it hard to switch to reading the full part if you need to. But this book is still a great resources for learning to play the piccolo well.
Which Flute Warmups Will You Try?
You can transfer a lot of standard flute warmups to the piccolo, but not all work as well on the smaller instrument. Be sure to try some of the exercises, from harmonics and long tones to making up your own stuff.
Then, you’ll be able to improve your playing and have fun at the same time. And if you want to see more content, follow us on Instagram for exclusive posts!