This x 100!
Marty Hackleman once told me he doesn’t like to call it a warm-up. He calls it his daily routine and the byproduct of that routine is that he is warmed up, both physically and mentally.
I have encountered many students who use their warm-up to ease into the mental aspects of their musical day, but I don’t believe this is necessary if you walk into the practice room with the proper mentality in place.
This is one reason why I am an enormous proponent of doing breathing exercises before playing. I’m not a slave to them and don’t always do them, but whenever I do I make sure I am fully committed mentally to the exercise as a way of engaging my mind on a very specific task, which in turn helps my first notes of the day sound great.
This is also why I like to do things like wind patterns during my breathing exercises. “Be musical with your air” is a phrase I’ve uttered thousands of times to various concert bands and marching bands. “Playing” Jingle Bells with your air is a great way to get dynamics, phrasing, articulation, style and everything else going in the brain.
Once you activate all of those things, the physical side of playing really just comes along for the ride.
Finally, I find it can be difficult to truly concentrate on breathing exercises when I do the exact same ones in the same order ever day. That’s why I like to use sequences (like are found in The Breathing Gym Daily Workouts DVD.) There are many ways to get the air (and the brain) moving and mixing up what is done and the order they are done in is really beneficial, even for professionals.
Regardless of how you begin your day or what you do for a daily routine, a simple decision can be made that your first notes will not be of poor quality. If you make that commitment, you’ll be amazed at the results.