Warm-up/Preparatory Rituals

I find that there is something wonderfully peaceful and magical about watching someone prepare to do something, whether it is before a soccer player takes the field, a ballerina takes to the floor, a musician begins to practice, or a painter puts his or her brush to the canvas. There is almost a palpable anticipation for what comes after the warm-ups or preparations are complete because just from watching them, you know that you are in for a treat; they have had years to refine and hone not only their skill or art, but to practice their preparatory rituals as well.

Before I unpack, I put my case down and stretch – right shoulder, then left, flex and hold my right wrist for a forearm stretch, then the left. Bend and hold fingers on the right hand, do the same for the left. Shake it out, then open the case. Violin out, attach shoulder rest, remove bow from case and tighten before applying rosin. G major scale, 3 octaves, 2 notes per bow. Then 3, then 4, then 6, then 8. Then arpeggios. What comes after depends on my mood, but these parts are always the same.

Jennifer Tinsley from the New York City Ballet warms up by listening to the orchestra beforehand and warms up her toes before even putting her ballet shoes on. She always puts on her sweats and a shawl and does some basic barre work before she begins to dance.

Michael Phelps listens to Michael Jackson as he’s warming up.

An acquaintance of mine, who is an extremely talented artist, always lays out his colors on his palette in the same order and methodically arranges his brushes on his right side before he puts a brush to canvas.

Before the doors opened at the cafe I worked at, I used to watch the chefs quickly preparing all the ingredients they would need for the night and put them in their rightful, proper places. They did it with such precision, yet they always seemed to have this shadow of a smile on their faces whenever they were doing this.

Do you have any rituals you do, or is there anything you particularly enjoy watching someone else do before they begin the actual activity?

Photo courtesy of Lightstalkers

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