guitar on stand

Today’s guest post is by Amy Strate at MakeMusic Inc.

So you’re a musician, or a parent of a musician, and you need to set up a place to practice.

Where: The first thing when it comes to practicing is “where” you’re going to practice. Should you have a room to yourself? Can it be a common area in the house? I’ve found that an effective practice space is an area where you can be comfortably set up and not feel pressured or bothered. I practice in my music/computer room at home because it’s a relaxed environment and a place I feel focused. I also use my computer and iPod to play along with music, so I need a space where I can use technology. A practice space can become ineffective when people are walking in and out, so I choose a room that won’t get a lot of foot traffic when I’m working.

Ambience: I work best in an area that inspires me to stay focused on my goals. Surround yourself with musical things to get in that practicing mood. Taking band class or enrolling in private lessons could be the excuse you need to purchase that cool poster for the wall of your practice area!

Pick a comfortable chair to sit in or stand up straight when you practice. Most musicians need a music stand, and I recommend having a table surface as well, as penciling notes into music is often more comfortable on a table than on your music stand. If you use your computer to practice (I practice with SmartMusic) you’ll need a table/desk large enough for your computer, your practice journal, and a space to set down your bow or keep extra reeds, etc. Do you clean your instrument after practicing? Keep your materials in your practice area as well.

Goals: Now that you have a space that inspires you to make musical goals, make sure you have a list ready, in your head or on paper, of what you want to practice and goals you want to accomplish. We all love buying new notebooks for class during back-to-school season, and band or private lessons are no exception. Spend the extra dollar on a notebook that makes you want to write down your practice goals. When you’re finished practicing, don’t forget to write notes to yourself about how you think you’re practice session went.

Time: So how much time should you be spending in your new practice space? How much should parents expect music students be practicing each week? Take a look at instructor Beth Varela’s upcoming post titled “How Much Should a Music Student Practice?”

Headshot AmyStrateAmy Strate is the summer social media intern at MakeMusic, Inc. (makers of Finale and SmartMusic). Amy is a graduating senior from Eden Prairie High School and a student leader at the School of Rock. She has studied violin, guitar, and voice, and leads the rock band Covera.