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Basic Elements of an Effective Practice Place

By Jeff Vivrette

One of the most important, yet overlooked, topics of learning to play guitar is having the basic elements in place that will not only allow you to have very effective practice sessions, but will also act as motivators before, during and after you’ve practiced your guitar. <a href=but wait, there’s more” class=”mceWPmore mceItemNoResize” title=”More…” />

Have you ever thought twice about practicing your guitar because you didn’t feel like dragging everything out and setting it up to practice?

Have you ever decided to wait until tomorrow to practice a particular subject because you didn’t feel like digging through a pile of paper to find the materials you needed?

Have you ever gotten a sore back while trying to sit on your bed and practice?

Are you fed up with getting a stiff neck trying to look over at the tab that’s sitting on a table?

All of these things will sap you of your motivation to practice and limit your ability to get the most out of your practice sessions!

It doesn’t matter if you live with your parents or have your own studio, having certain basic elements in place are critical to effective practice. Listed below are the items every guitar player should have in place when practicing. Preferably, you’ll have these items set up in your primary practice area ready to go when you’re ready to practice your guitar. In a small bedroom, these items can be tucked into a corner or behind doors to make room for normal daily activities and can be pulled out quickly and easily when it’s time to practice your guitar.

  • Binder – A binder for your loose paper materials will allow you to organize your materials so you don’t have to spend a precious 10 minutes of your only available 30 minute time slot for the day searching for them.
  • Page Inserts – Page inserts protect your papers in the binder so you don’t end up tearing the holes out and loosing valuable materials.
  • Practice Chair – A small, foldable chair that will allow you to sit at a comfortable height without leaning back will help you to practice with proper technique and minimize fatigue. Stop sitting on your bed, the couch or your lazy boy when you practice. A foldable chair can be easily put away when space is a premium.
  • Music Stand – Music stands can range from table top models to large, sturdy conductors stands. They can cost anywhere from $9-100 or more. I’ve found the more sturdy conductors stands with folding legs, telescoping body and solid music holder to work best. These typically cost about $30. If this is too much for your budget, the collapsible stands are better than nothing but will not hold a binder full of music very well. But get some kind of stand and stop laying out your practice materials on your bed!
  • Guitarist Foot Stool – This small, adjustable footstool will run you about $10 and will help solve many problems with your technique. I’m a firm believer in holding the guitar in the “classical” position when practicing. Elevating the foot goes a long way in helping you hold your guitar correctly, even if you decide not to sit in the classical position. Some stacked books can serve the same purpose in a pinch.
  • Guitar Stand – These can be purchased for about $10 and will be one of the most effective tools in getting you to practice more. Don’t keep your guitar in its case, tucked away in a closet or under the bed. This creates all kinds of reasons to procrastinate! Put that guitar on a stand and have it ready at all times. If you’re worried about it getting knocked over, spend a few more dollars and get a more stable unit. I’ve never had a problem with mine.
  • Tuning Device – It’s very important to start your practice session by making sure your guitar is in tune. Whatever method you use (Tuner, Pitch Pipe, Tuning Fork, Audio) make sure it’s ready and available for when you decide to practice your guitar.
  • CD Player – You may be asking what a CD player has to do with practicing your guitar. If you are a student of mine, you will get audio (usually on CD) as a portion of your lessons from time to time. It’s important you have some way to listen to the CD while you’re practicing. You don’t want to keep running back and forth to listen to the lesson. Have one in your practice area. You can pick one up really cheap if you don’t have on already.

While not absolutely essential, a couple of other items you should plan to add to your practice area at some point are:

  • DVD Player – This may be your computer or other device. Again, my students receive DVD’s from time to time and being able to watch the DVD while you practice makes your practice much more effective.
  • Recording Device – Recording your practice and listening back to it can be a very effective part of your practice. It can also be very motivating and inspiring. Listening to things that may need more work or capturing a cool song idea on the spot are just a couple of ways you will use a recording device while practicing. This could be as simple as a voice recorder or as complex as a recording studio. The possibilities are many and the excuses not to have some type of recording device are few. As you become more serious with your guitar playing, you should get a recording device.

Some more important points to keep high on your list and prepare for are as follows:

  • Keep all of these items set up and ready to go, if possible. If not, keep them close at hand and minimize any hassle to setting them up that may cause you to skip a practice session.
  • Prepare ahead of time, if possible, and have your practice materials ready to go so you can spend more time practicing and less time gathering materials.
  • Keep your other books, CD’s, DVD’s organized so you don’t have to search for them.
  • If you use a computer while practicing, organize your files and have everything easy to find.

I hope you’ll take few minutes and spend a few dollars, if needed, and get these basic elements in place so your practice will become more effective, more efficient and less of a hassle. You’ll become a better guitar player and enjoy the process MUCH more if you do.

Also, if you aren’t currently working with a compotent guitar instructor and trainer, be sure to contact me now to find out how you can become the guitar player you’ve always dreamed about!

Take care and don’t let anything keep your from your dreams!