When we discussed last week how to create the perfect practice space, we recommended you to gather the necessary equipment around you. Today we'll go a little further and talk about essential practice items to make the most of your practice session. Obviously, different instruments require different equipment so this list is not comprehensive, but here are some items for practicing music that every musician should have in their practice space.
1. Music Stand
I know we brought this up last week, but having a music stand makes practicing music so much easier. No need to crane your neck looking at a series of eighth notes just outside your periphery, a music stand allows you to view your music at eye level. Practicing music is secretly about comfort, so making the reading process easier on your eyes will decrease distractions as you play.
A metronome produces ticks representing beats per minute that help musicians maintain a steady tempo. Especially when learning a new work, a metronome guides a musician through complex rhythms and pushes them to avoid taking up extra time while playing a difficult passage. Metronomes alert a student when they are not in line with the intended rhythm, which is great when practicing an unfamiliar piece. Naturally some musicians criticize the metronome as fixed and mechanical; but despite its flaws, it helps you keep up with a movement's indented rhythm and tempo.
3. Pencil and eraser
Two simple, but essential items for practicing music. Stay engaged with your music, by keeping a pencil and eraser at hand. You should constantly annotate your sheet music and make notes to yourself about tempo changes, dynamics, and key changes. Playing music always requires looking ahead at the next lines, naturally a difficult habit, so marking up your pages makes these surprises a lot less sudden. If you want to overachieve, get a set of highlighters and color code your music as well.
If you're a narcissist (or a trumpet player--same thing, right?) you might already have one of these in your practice space. In all seriousness, looking at yourself practicing can actually provide effective visual feedback. Marching band players can greatly benefit from practicing in front of a mirror, since it allows you to evaluate your posture while playing your instrument. No more excuses for slouching! It's one of the stranger items for practicing music, but it's also very effective.
Unless you are a percussionist, your instrument probably needs some kind of tuning. This allows you to calibrate your instrument with the intended pitch that it should be played. Purchasing a tuner is kind of an extra thing, but it's important that your instrument be played at the correct pitch or else the songs you practice might sound off.
A majority of instruments require using your mouth and after flexing those lips for a long period of time, they get worn out. Give your mouth a break between songs and replenish it with some water. Even if you play an instrument that doesn't require your mouth, it's still a good idea to have a glass around. Staying hydrated keeps you focused. Your brain and mouth will thank you.
We mentioned this before, but setting a time length for your practice session greatly increases productivity and having some kind of timer letting you know how much time is left on your practice session cuts down on the distractions. While most phones have timers, try to find one separate from your phone so that you don't spend your practice checking your phone. Trust us, you will. We always do.
Want more? Head over to Chromatik for free sheet music and tutorials.