Winter. I’m not big on it. If you play any instrument that involves dexterous finger work, you probably aren’t big on it, either. How many times have you started playing a fast riff or lick onstage and quickly realized your fingers weren’t moving as fast as your brain?
Up here in the North East (US) and elsewhere in the world, winter temperatures can last over half the year. When people watch you play, they expect it to be good - every time. No one grants mercy points for cold hands.
Needless to say, it wasn't long before I had a few tricks up my sleeve to deal with old man winter. Use these tips for effectively (and cheaply) keeping yer digits warm and ready for fast action:
Gloves. Not to state the obvious, but it’s so simple and brilliant that it’s hilarious how so many of us forget (or refuse) to wear gloves when driving to a rehearsal or show. Once I got over myself feeling like a dweeb wearing them to gigs, I stapled each glove to my jacket sleeves and - just kidding! (But I do keep a pair stuffed in the pockets after reaping the benefits so many times.)
Air squats. Yup. These are gonna ramp up circulation all over. If your body is cold, how can you expect your fingers to warm up? Forget jumping jacks; you need a bigger burn, and squats will increase your body temperature faster. Do 50 reps or squats at a medium tempo for 60 to 90 seconds. Then do these …
Push-ups. No, this isn’t supposed to be boot camp, but sometimes you gotta just go with what works. If you can force yourself to squeeze out even 20 or 30 reps in a row, you will start feeling some serious heat, especially if you perform these right after the squats.
Windmills. Now it’s time to get some of that blood moving to your fingers. For this, I know of no better method than swinging your arms in big circles, not unlike Pete Townshend’s famous windmill strumming move. Guitar not required.
Ginger tea. Fill a small pot with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Get a thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger root and cut it into thin slices. Add the slices to the boiling water and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Next, pour the water into a teapot and serve. Squeeze in some lemon juice and sweeten with honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Careful, it’s a strong brew - prepare for a ginger “kick” in the back of your throat. This potent, thermogenic concoction will increase blood flow to extremities as ginger’s circulation-boosting properties can create a full-body warming effect.
Nuts. Eat half a cup of your favorite nuts. I like pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts or walnuts for this. Seeds work great too; try Eden’s Spicy Pumpkin Seeds.