One often overlooked factor that can make or break the effectiveness of your practice is how you set up your practice space. Most of us probably haven’t given the subject much thought (me included until recently!), but having a space that has been set up thoughtfully can have surprising effects on your musical progress and enjoyment. In this post I’ll look at the benefits of having a good practice set-up, and give some tips for how to make the most out of your music space.
Why is a good practice space beneficial?
It is inviting and you find yourself more drawn to it, meaning that you ultimately practise more frequently and for longer. It doesn’t present any barriers (physical or psychological) between you and your practice tasks.
It helps create positive mental connotations for practice, meaning that you will develop better feelings towards your instrument or discipline over time.
It prevents the need to keep getting up to source items you need, saving time and preserving focus.
My tips for creating a great practice space
Items to keep handy in your practice area
Your instrument! Try to keep it out and assembled whenever possible. If this isn’t realistic for your space, try to keep it as easily accessible as possible. Even just keeping an instrument case and stand close can help.
A music stand (folded out and ready if possible).
Your sheet music and music folder, preferably with the sheets you’re currently learning from already laid out.
Your music notebook, and ideally somewhere/something to lean on to write (here’s a post about why this one is so important, and how to get the most out of your notebook).
A computer or device that you can listen to recordings on, and make recordings onto of yourself (plus headphones if required).
Any practice aids or other items you may have, e.g. flashcards, a piano scales slider, a stand and neck strap for a saxophone, a capo and plectrums for a guitar, etc.
For me, I have found that keeping my instruments and music stand in the little room that houses my computer desk works well, as this is where I work during the day and spend a lot of time. Since I created a designated practice space in this room I’ve found that the amount of time I’ve put in to playing has increased, which has definitely resulted in faster improvement. Having a computer nearby means that I can play along to and reference recordings easily, and there are always pencils and paper handy for making notes and marking up scores.
Everyone’s practice spaces will look different depending on their instrument and personal preferences, but hopefully this has sparked some ideas as to how you might be able to improve your own designated area. I’ve noticed a considerable difference to the amount of time I spend practising and my overall consistency just from tweaking a few small things, and I’m enjoying playing so much more – I wish I’d thought more about organising my music space years ago! What would your ideal practice space look like?