September 03, 2020
A Beginner’s Guide to Creating An Ideal Practice Environment
Designating a regular practice space shows you’re serious about your musical interest. By removing distractions and setting up a place that’s completely dedicated to your music practice or online lessons, you’ll be giving yourself a consistent place to experiment and explore music. Dedicated practice spaces should be clean, provide easy access to instruments, equipment, and learning materials, and be free of distractions like pets, siblings, and non-essential screens. Living arrangement difficulties? With some careful planning and awareness, you can keep your neighbors and family happy while still giving yourself what you need to excel at your instrument and build the ideal practice environment for you.
Time of Day
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, “time of day” is an essential element for your ideal practice environment. If you keep your music-making to business hours (9AM-5PM and a little bit later on the weekends), then your playing probably falls within an acceptable noise making time-frame. Most apartments have mandatory “quiet hours” listed in the lease, so take a look at that before planning a time to practice. If you’re friendly with your neighbors, reach out to them and be as accommodating as possible.
Location, Location, Location
When building your ideal practice environment, no location is perfect. But there are plenty of steps you can take to maximize the spaces you do have. Be sure to consider these key attributes when selecting the best space for you.
Layout & Practice Volume
Think about the layout of your rooms before deciding where to practice. If you’re in an apartment and your living room is adjacent to your neighbor’s bedroom, it might not be the best place to practice later at night or earlier in the morning. Ideally, the room you practice in won’t share any walls with neighbors. Many, but not all, instruments nowadays come with built-in headphone jacks, allowing you to plug your instrument directly into an amp. Therefore allowing you to monitor the sound through a pair of headphones. If you play the drums or a brass instrument, headphone jacks aren’t a viable option. Depending on your instrument, you can use other sound dampening methods, like mutes for horns and drum pads for percussion, that can make your playing more “friendly” for your environment. For more insight on preferable methods, speak with your music teacher.
Temperature & Lighting
Not only is temperature key for you, it’s also important to the care and maintenance of your instruments. If you don’t have control over the temperature of your space,make sure you have access to windows or electric heaters/fans for comfort. Additionally, reduce eyestrain by making sure you have sufficient lighting for practice day or night. Being able to comfortably read your music is a must.
Make sure to consider the acoustics of your practice space. It should be large enough for you to spread out and hear what the music actually sounds like, as opposed to standing in the center of the sound. Try to replicate the same setup you’d have if you were playing live.
Your space should be well connected to electricity and wifi. Make sure you purchase a power strip or two if you need additional outlets for your equipment. If you frequently participate in online lessons, online practice aids, or etc., your space should have easy access to the internet via strong wifi or an ethernet cable.
Some instruments are just louder than others. It’s as simple as that. If you play the drums or the trumpet, you should consider trying to block the sound of your practicing from even reaching your neighbors via soundproofing. Whether you hire a professional company to take care of the soundproofing or do it yourself, the method is the same. Place objects of heavy, dense mass between the sound source and your neighbors in order to isolate the two. If you’re taking the DIY approach, there are plenty of temporary soundproofing options available on the market, including foam and door jamb seals. You can even use egg carton-like foam and heavy camping mats until you’re able to find a more permanent and professional solution.
You may have selected the ideal space, but is it set up with everything you need to maximize your practice potential? An ill-equipped space can set you up for disaster. Try these essentials to ensure your practice success.
- Suitable chair – Make sure you have proper seating for your instrument! For example: chairs with arms = bad for guitarists! Also, make sure its comfortable! Bad posture and back pain are big no-nos.
- Notebook and pencils – Always be ready to make notations or keep track of your progress in your practice log.
- Maintenance accessories – Care and maintenance of your instrument can drastically impact your sound.
- Instrument accessories – Don’t you hate when your string snaps or you run out of rosin mid-practice? Never be without these accessory essentials.
- Audio/Video Recorder – Recording yourself is a great way to monitor your practice progress or to remember new ideas. Try these pro audio options.
- Sheet Music – Learn something you love to play! Make sure to have your sheet music on hand for practice. If you’re looking for a change, try something new or even a digital download!
- Music Stand – Do yourself a favor and invest in a good music stand. It doesn’t just hold your music, it helps prevent bad posture, eye strain, and helps improve the overall ease of playing.
- Metronome – If you don’t already have one, you need a metronome. Honing your rhythmic skills is a must for beginner and expert musicians alike.
- Tuner – Practicing with a tuner is important for developing ear-training skills. Play an instrument out of tune is not only bad for you, but the instrument as well!
- Mirror – Often under-rated, mirrors are great for monitoring your facial expression, breathing technique, posture, and much more. Make sure this item has an easily accessible spot in your practice space.
With a little preparation and forward thinking, you can create the ideal practice environment that fits your needs. If you still feel like your space is missing something, and renting a practice space isn’t a viable solution, speak with your music teacher for additional insight. Happy Practicing! #KeepTheMusicGoing