Do you have the perfect space for your music practice? No? You’re not alone. The fact is that you will probably never have the ‘perfect’ space. What is right for some instruments will not suit others and what enhances one style of music will be awful for another.
So whilst there may not be a ‘one size fits all’ there are some things everyone can do to ensure they have the best practice space possible.
The single most important element in creating that ideal space for your music practice is comfort. If you are not comfortable your mind will be thinking about the thing that is making you uncomfortable and not about the practice you are trying to do.
Ensure that you have enough space for you and your instrument. If you need to move around while playing make sure you have room for that too. If you sit down during practice make sure you have a comfortable chair, one that supports you correctly in all the right places.
The room you use should be the right temperature. Too hot or too cold and your body will not function as well as it could. You’ll also be distracted by wanting to either remove clothes or put some more on.
Your practice space should as much as possible be free from distractions. Distractions can take many forms, not all of them obvious.
Keep people out. You don’t want people wandering in and out when you are trying to concentrate. If you practice in a shared room in your house (which a lot of piano students do) then make it clear to everybody that you are practising and shouldn’t be disturbed. There maybe times when you actually want people in the room to listen for instance when you are preparing for a performance and you want a ‘dummy’ audience. This is fine. Just as long as you draw a clear distinction.
Make sure you have other music playing only when you actually need it. Don’t leave your iPod or Hi-Fi on when you practice. You need to be able to hear yourself accurately and clearly.
Don’t leave the TV on in the background!!!!
If you have something in your eye-line that can also be a distraction. That picture of your last holiday might be nice to have on the wall but if it is behind the music stand and in your eye-line when you play it will distract you.
A former student of mine would practice like this: Get instrument out. Play few notes. Go and find a music stand. Play a few more notes. Go and find sheet music. Start playing that. Forgot what to work on. Goes to find notebook. Works on a few things. Needs to mark the music. Goes to find a pencil . . . .and so on.
The message is clear – have everything you need to practice with you before you start. Make sure all the music, stands, chairs, mirrors, oils, strings, tuners, metronomes, pencils and everything else is in the room ready. An ideal music practice space will have all these items in all the time.
These three things – comfort, no distractions and the right facilities are the key to any rehearsal space. There are however several more elements which combined with the above really could give you the perfect space.
Leave instruments and equipment out – if you can leave your instrument set up and ready to play you will do more practice. Each time you walk past it you can play a few more notes. This adds up to a lot of extra practice over the course of a week.
Permanent – linked to the point above. A permanent, dedicated space is ideal. Not having to move equipment to get to bed or unplug and amp because you need the kettle is ideal.
Acoustically good – given a choice of spaces you would choose one with a good practice acoustic – not to be confused with a good acoustic. A good room for practice where you can hear all the finer details of what you play is preferable to a boomy, echoing space where your sound gets lost and muddled. Consider a church and a radio studio. The church would be much better for a performance whereas the radio studio would be much better for practice.
Recording equipment – some form of recording equipment is an invaluable practice aid. When listening ‘live’ while we play we have so many other things to think about, technique, fingering, etc. If you can record yourself and listen back you can fully focus on the sound. Your recording equipment need not be permanent. There are many, fine portable recorders available on the market today.
Posters or pictures to inspire – we mentioned distractions above. This does not mean that your practice space will be boring! Decorate it with pictures and posters of your favourite artists or images that inspire you.
I hope this has given you some ideas for to help create you won perfect practice space. Even if you stop for a few moments to consider your space and how you might organise it better to help you practice that is a good thing.
How about your own practice space? What do you have? What works for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.
Make sure to discuss practice space with your students. Do you know where they practice? Get specific. You can only help them if you have a clear idea what their current space is like. Encourage them to take price in the space.
You can be a great help here. Not every student will be fortunate enough to have a separate room for practice. Most families can however provide a dedicated space – even if only for the duration of the practice. Discuss the space with your child and make sure they have everything they need.
Perhaps the main way you can help is to ensure that there are no distractions during practice