The Ultimate Piano Warm-Up Routine

Lisa Witt  /  Practice  /  UPDATED Jan 16, 2023

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Warming up the hands is an important part of any piano players routine. Think of yourselves as musical athletes, you want to give yourself a moment to arrive mentally and physically at the piano before diving into the main parts of your practice. Warming up is also a great way to develop all aspects of our musical skill sets from hand independence to dynamics!

Here is my warm-up routine. It will take less than 3 minutes and it can be used as a template to create your very own warm-up routine!

1. Play a major scale

In this case, I am using C major. Play this scale smoothly on the way up and then staccato or detached on the way down. This will prevent you from becoming complacent and help to wake up those fingers!

2. Play the relative minor of that scale

But with a twist! Use a crescendo on the way up and a decrescendo on the way down. This will get you thinking about dynamics and activate the brain to hand coordination required to develop dynamics in your playing.

3. Play a Hanon style exercise

I’ve changed up my pattern so that what I play on the way up is different from what I play on the way down. The beautiful thing about a Hannon style exercise is that they keep the notes quite close together which causes us to develop extra fine motor skills. They also use clever fingering to reset the hands each round enabling us to practice efficiently and quickly.

That is my ultimate piano warm-up routine. Practice this in a variety of keys and tempos. This warm-up is the most fun when played quickly so don’t be afraid to push yourself in terms of tempo. The most important thing is that you work at a tempo that you can stay in control in. When you get comfortable, bump up that tempo by 3-5 bpm and keep working at it.


Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others. Learn more about Lisa.

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