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  • Steve Krenz
    Steve Krenz

    Creating a Practice Space for Maximum Improvement

    Ahhh… your practice space – the place where learning gets done. 

    You can dread and avoid your practice room like a prison...

    Or you can savor your time there as a sanctuary away from the demands of life – a refuge to get away from the stresses of the day and focus on what YOU want to do and be.

    Make the physical environment around you as helpful as possible in helping you become a better musician. 

    Let’s learn what items should be around to help you learn.

    Music Stand  A solid place to hold all of your learning materials.                    

    Get a good, solid, metal stand.  Avoid the inexpensive, fold up portable wire ones which can’t hold much weight and will inevitably bend and break when you trip over them.

    For day-to-day use in one location, get a solid metal stand like this... MUSIC STAND.

    If you need something portable to get to jam sessions or other playing situations, here is the best portable music stand I’ve found...  PORTABLE MUSIC STAND

    Metronome   The best tool for measuring and improving your rhythm.

    There are many options for metronomes from a basic “tick-tock” type to those sounding complex multi meters.

    All you need is a basic metronome. (More is not better when talking metronomes.)

    Avoid the ones that give a “beep” sound and choose one that gives a “tock” sound. For a good mechanical metronome, this one works great…  METRONOME

            You can also get a metronome app for your phone. 

            My favorite is… METRONOME APP

    Guitar Stand   The safest place for your guitar to be when not in a case.

    Don’t lean your guitar up against a couch or chair where it can easily be knocked over.  Use a quality guitar stand to hold your instrument secure. 

    A good choice is the Hercules stand that locks your guitar when it is in the stand… HERCULES GUITAR STAND

    You can also hang your guitar on the wall with a wall hanger.  Hanging your guitar on the wall is a great way to have your guitar close by and also to appreciate how cool it looks.  A good wall hanger is… WALL MOUNTED GUITAR HANGER

    Comfortable Chair    Use a stool or chair that is comfortable.

    Avoid practicing hunched over on a couch. 

    Find a comfortable padded stool or chair (without arms) so that you can practice for a length of time without getting sore or stiff.

    Pencil   Don’t write in ink unless you never plan on making a mistake.

    Make sure to have plenty of pencils around.  (Avoid using pen.)

    When something is important to remember then write it down.  Writing things down increases your retention of the material.

    Notebook/Tablet/Paper  Keep a practice journal of things you work on. 

    Things that aren’t written down are easily forgotten. 

    Start a practice journal.  Write down new chords learned and new concepts.  Write down your progress in learning technique. 

    Review your notes often to see how far you’ve come. 

    Ipad/Smart Phone   There’s a world of knowledge only a few clicks away.

    Nowadays, you can easily find a video on anything you would like to learn. 

    Have an ipad close by – maybe even one that can sync to a wall-mounted TV – to pull up a helpful YouTube video or jam track.

    But be careful, it’s easy to get distracted and start watching videos instead of practicing.  Use your practice space ipad for learning – not surfing.

    Practicing Tip: If you want to practice soloing, record yourself playing the chord changes into your phone and then practice soloing over your track.


    One Final Thought... Motivation

    Mission Statement   Write out your goals on guitar and put on your music stand.                    

    Take a moment and write out your goals or dreams for your guitar learning.  In one or two sentences, create your guitar learning mission statement.

    Once you have the wording like you want it, then print it out and post it on your music stand.

    It will serve as a quick reminder of why you want to play.  Update it often.

    Creating an inviting practice space can lead to more productive practice times and greater improvement.

    What are some ideas that you've found helpful in your practice space?  Let us know below in the comments.

    I hope these ideas help you create a practice space that works for you.  Learn all you can! - Steve

    Edited by Steve Krenz

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    I think it's important to have some comfortable seating that puts you in a good position to play the guitar, too! I have a nice office-type chair with no arms in my space along with a small sofa, which works well depending on what or how I'm playing.

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    Steven Pressfield writes in Turning Pro: “A practice has a space, and that space is sacred. There’s a wonderful book called Where Women Create. It’s a compilation of photos of studios and workshops where various female artists do their magic. … Just look at those sacred spaces. What you’ll see is this: Order, Commitment, Passion, Love, Intensity, Beauty, Humility. … [These twenty-six women] all serve the Muse. And each has discovered in that service her unique and authentic essence.”

    Imagine your dream space. One that is uniquely yours. Let your imagination fly, put pencil to paper, then make it so.

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    Best is a practice area set aside with the instruments and accessories in place. I don't have that currently and the desert is a dry place. No guitars sit out of their cases, so I always have to get one out. But I have the same routine every time--plus amp or no amp?--so in a few minutes I'm playing in my living room. Best sound! Years of drumming and didging taught me that. Make sure it's a place you like; you'll be there for years. (It took placing drumming before everything but work for years to reach an advanced level.)

    If you want to learn to read music, but are resistant, what I did inadvertently was place the books far enough away in so so lighting. I couldn't read the tab, so I had no option (didn't care). Conversely, I bought some brighter bulbs and now would love a nice music stand light. (Any recommendations?) My music stand is of the solid leg orchestral type, which has saved me from a few spills.

    The one thing I wish I would have done in my drumming practice was use a metronome. The steady beat drives the train, which exposes inner resistance and helps build a sense of time. I also need to post my immediate goals and start a practice journal. The journal works well with training for any skill. No smart phone so far. My tech is still flip phone. Would "surfitis? prove irresistible? Probably.

    Usually I set up my practice area even when I feel lousy or don't want to play the same durn exercise for the umpteenth time. As Steve says, even 15 minutes daily gives better results than weekend or day off binging. Even if a practice session sucks, I keep going unless I feel the familiar "approaching burn out" sensations. Then I stop, wipe my guitar off and pick up.

    Rock On!


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    On 2/6/2020 at 7:37 AM, colder said:

    I think it's important to have some comfortable seating that puts you in a good position to play the guitar, too! I have a nice office-type chair with no arms in my space along with a small sofa, which works well depending on what or how I'm playing.

    Yes, no arms on a chair is a must.  I've taken the arms off of chairs before so I could use them when practicing.  - Steve

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