Creating The Perfect Practice Environment

Posted by Gregoire on June 12, 2015

Medium practice space

Your kitchen? A couch with cushions lower to the floor than your performance saddle? In front of Netflix?

Probably not. Never. And it depends.

Unless you have a dedicated practice studio in the city, own a converted barn for your rehearsals and recording, or live a life sans spouse/spawn then the likelihood of having the perfect environment for your work are slightly diminished. We're not necessarily talking how to practice here rather discussing some reasonable, low or no cost things to consider when setting up your practice studio. The following are intended to be applicable to ALL guitarists, electric or acoustic practitioners, without prejudices. Going on.

1. It has to be quiet. No worldly distractions. Stand up and say NO to television or Facebook alerts going bonkers in your murse or purse over someone needing to share a pic of their latest round of rice-crispy and dried cilantro tempura batter. Don't even use your iPad or notebook style 'puter for viewing your music. Print the scores you're working on, get 'em on your music stand, and put the devices on hold for 30 minutes. The'Buzz knows you can do it. Pretty soon, you'll love your practice time soOOoo much more than you ever loved Candy Crush.

If you don't want the people you live with listening to your practice because of feeling embarrassed of your level or some such thing this 1st rule is really important. A practicing artist needs a place where they feel completely emotionally safe and comfortable. As you mature on your instrument [and as an artist] you will discover an amazing superpower of being able to tune out anything that isn't for the betterment of your craft. If you live with people that just don't get it or you're needed for a variety of things when people ARE around, your love and desire for music will help you adjust your lifestyle to find time to practice when they are not in your space. Be kind. Ask for time to work on your technique and repertoire. Be creative. If your partner leaves the house for an errand, use the 30 minutes they're away for metronome practice or working out a phrase. Whatever. Here's some more on how to use your practice time effectively.

2. Try to have your accoutrements in one room or area of your living space. Your instrument(s), metronome, guitar stand or case, a music stand, foot stool or guitar support, a chair (if you are a classic/flamenco player), hi-fi stereo (ya'like that?), amp, cables, picks, nail files, 3M Trimite paper, pencils, a highlighter, and your music. There's no worse distraction than needing to hunt for something when you're in the midst of practicing, non? Ouí. Keep things as organized as your personality type will allow.

3. Try to equip your space with lighting that isn't overly harsh. Noisy, super nova fluorescents aren't the best. A table or standing lamp with a high output, daylight CFL or incandescent bulb with some natural sunlight should do the trick. Create an environment that you feel is conducive to working for 45 minutes if you're a beginning student and 5 to 8 hours for advanced players.

4. Set up a mirror in your studio so you can watch yourself head on. As if you're engaging an audience. That's if you want to engage them. It's also great for managing technique and posture. An example: looking at your left hand as you practice without a mirror leaves your shoulders, back, neck, hips, and right hand/wrist vulnerable to injury because they are not being monitored. As you get more proficient and stable with your technique et al. you will rely less on such a thing.

Take some time to evaluate your current practice situation and see how many of these things you're already doing. Practice well all of you!


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Great post! I never considered #4 -- that makes perfect sense especially if you plan on playing for folks at some point in your musical future.

Adam on June 15, 2015
Comment grego re  he is frowny  small

That was tricky for me in the beginning. I had played for years and got up for my first show as a teenager and discovered how foreign everything felt because I never practiced while standing.

Gregoíre on June 19, 2015
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Yeah, I had the same experience. Played a bunch of songs in front of my high school (playing and singing) - wished I had practiced performing more. A mirror would have helped... though I think I did alright ;)

Adam on July 25, 2015
Comment grego re  he is frowny  small

Were you playing your own tunes? Covers? I won't play any cover unless it's by Ace of Base.

Gregoíre on July 25, 2015