The Ideal Practice Space – Making The Most Out Of Your Rehearsal Space
In our last blog we went over how to get the most out of a short practice, so we thought we’d say a few words on where to practice – the ideal practice space. If you haven’t already gathered, more practice = better musician. Not only more practice, but quality practice. Setting up a good space can make all the difference, as we shall see..
So, which room to practice in? Well, as you’d expect for anything involving concentration, a room free of distractions. Yeah right, you say, no room in our house is free from distractions – maybe the piano is in the lounge room and so is the TV, maybe younger siblings are everywhere. Setting up a room similar to when you see your guitar teacher is ideal.
Do your best.
Turn the TV off, or practice in the morning, if siblings can’t be lured away somehow, get them involved? Clap the beat? Sing along? Certainly remove phone, tablets, laptops etc, unless they’re exclusively being used in practice.
Can’t I practice in front of the TV, idly picking at my guitar? Sure you can, after actual practice.
All fairly obvious suggestions, but 10 minutes uninterrupted can do wonders!
Don’t go to the other extreme and ostracise your budding musician to a freezing, dark corner of the house or in the basement. The room should be comfortable, well lit, and preferably somewhat inspiring. Think about the lighting.
Natural light is great, but if not, a nice warm light/lamp is preferable to a blaring, buzzing fluro. This might seem trivial, but lighting has a profound affect on our mood and our ability to concentrate. This is especially the case if practice involves performing a piece with feeling, or attempting a composition.
As far as inspiration goes, a few posters in the practice space of their (current?) favourite artist can be a great motivator. Speaking of essentials for the practice space, let’s move from the where to the what..
I’ll just go ahead and rattle off the items that every student should have, with (sort of) the important stuff at the top.
Music stand – piano students are ok, but virtually everyone else needs a stand. Well why can’t I just use the table, I hear you say. Because if you do, soon enough your neck will get sore and you’re done. Get a stand! They’re cheap (look online).
As in your music lessons, it should be set up at eye height, even if you like to practise standing up. Some stands don’t have those page-holding springy things, so if that’s you, a few clothes pegs can help keep the book open.
Metronome – yes they’re not very interesting, musically speaking, but they can work wonders with timing and rhythm. Don’t use them all the time, but they’re great for scales, sight-reading and new pieces. You can still get the analogue ones, but there are also loads of apps, including fun metronomes, such as this.
A comfortable seat – for piano students a bench at the correct height is ideal. An uncomfortable seat can cause back pain. Not good. Make sure the seat allows for the correct posture for playing your instrument. The smaller people might need a footstool.. Check with teacher.
Tuner – MUST HAVE guitar students! You’ll learn to tune by ear one day, but for everybody’s sakes use a tuner to start with! What’s more, if your guitar sounds bad you’ll probably attribute it to your playing, and start telling yourself how you were never meant to be a musician etc etc. Of course with singers, especially newbie singers who’ve not fully learnt how to pitch their voice, in the absence of your singing teacher or a piano/instrument, you can use it to check your pitch.
Clip on tuners are great as they’re always there on the guitar, ready to save the day. If not there are plenty of free apps, like this
Notepad, pencils etc. – Notepad for writing out a ‘practice plan’ for the day or week. Also, if you think of something you need to do, write it down and keep practising. Don’t get up, check calendar, phone etc. Do that later.
Instrument stand – can the make the whole thing more painless if you need to keep checking manuscripts or taking notes.
Make practising your instrument easy, whether it’s vocal training, guitar shredding or sitting at the keys.. If you can leave it all set up, great! If not, consider leaving the piano lid open so everyone can tinkle with it throughout the day; leave the guitar out of its case (if safe from toddlers!), and preferably in the living room or another well used room; leave the music open on the stand, with notepad and pencil.
If a short practice session involves 5 minutes of unpacking followed by 5 minutes of packing up, it can give it more of a chore-y feeling. The more barriers to practice, no matter how small, the more likely it will seem like too much hassle, adults and kids alike. Singers, if you’re driving somewhere, have a singing mix ready, try some scales or sing along to the radio. If you’re driving to a your singing lessons from Brunswick, you have the perfect amount of time to warm up before seeing your singing teacher.
So there it is! If you can’t manage all of the above, do what you can – it will make a difference. We can do our best to guide you in lessons, but whether singing, piano, guitar, or any instrument for that matter: practice = progress.
Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions if we’ve forgotten something!