Cold hands when you’re performing? Don’t worry — you are not alone!

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Even Segovia himself was famous for soaking his hands and forearms in warm water for 15 minutes before going on stage. While very few of us have the time or luxury to take a “hand bath” before we play, it’s important to have a few tricks of your own up your sleeve. Here are 5 effective methods you can use to get your digits toasty when it’s game time!

1. Bring a hair dryer

I’m going to go ahead and give you my personal favorite right away! Without a doubt, the most effective way to get your hands warm before going on stage is to point your blow dryer away from your beautiful locks and on your hands instead. This is the most quick and long-lasting method for warming your hands that I’ve found, and it’s one I’ve used on countless occasions.

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I’m not alone in my conviction either. I once heard about a legendary Angel Romero concert held in a particularly chilly concert hall, and in between each piece, Maestro Romero would step off stage for about a minute during which time a faint whirring could be heard emanating from behind the curtain!

2. Make a custom, reusable hand-warmer

Growing up in Minnesota, my hands were cold ALL the time. To overcome this daily obstacle, I made a custom hand-warmer out of a mismatched sock and some rice. You can make your own in literally a minute. Go to your sock drawer find a long sock that doesn’t have a buddy and fill it with 3–4 cups of rice from your pantry. Then tie the top of the sock off and pop it in the microwave for a minute or two. It will come out nice and toasty and can be used over and over. I’ve had the same one for probably 10 years now and it feels great every time!

3. Move!

Science says circulation is the reason your fingers are cold, and usually, science is right… Of course, the best way to get your blood circulating is physical exercise. Go for an easy run the morning before your concert. Walk to the venue instead of driving. Do a plank backstage! Of course, you don’t want to be out of breath and breaking a sweat as you walk out on stage, but finding a light exercise could be a great addition to your green room routine. For instance, I know Scott Tennant regularly practices Tai Chi backstage. Many activities will work as long as it keeps you relaxed and gets the blood moving!

4. Play your favorite guitar lick

What is the first thing you play when you pick up your guitar in the morning? Chances are, this lick or piece does a pretty good job of getting your fingers warm, otherwise you wouldn’t automatically start your day with it. For me, the most effective licks for this are non-strenuous but require rapid finger movements. Lately, I’ve found the opening to Rodrigo’s “Zapateado” does the job perfectly because it’s fast but consists of mostly single line runs.

5. “Change mindset, you must.”

Yeah OK Yoda, easier said than done! However, a trained mind truly can be your ultimate tool. If you’ve tried all of the tips above with little or no success, it means that the issue isn’t physical... What is actually making your hands cold is the act of telling yourself over and over “my hands are cold, my hands are cold, my hands are cold!” I do this to myself all the time. Often, my hands are just fine until I start focusing on them and begin messing around trying to warm them up. When you recognize that mindset is the real issue, it’s important to reverse this mental pattern and convince yourself, “my hands are warm, my hands are warm, my hands are warm…” If you can learn to make this work for you, then leave the hair dryer at home!

Those are my five tricks! Of course, there are many more, but these are the ones that have worked for me. Let me know if there’s one I missed and should try out by dropping a line at team@tonebase.co!

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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Guitarist

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