Practice Essentials

Austin Thompson

Mon Sep 14 2020 | 6 Minute Read

Having too many items in your practice space can actually hinder how you practice. Even if your practice area is in the corner of your bedroom you should consider what you allow in your space when you’re trying to get better! 

Essential Items


Instrument or Reasonable Substitute  

There’s nothing as good as the actual thing but let’s be real; a lot of instruments are extremely expensive. While there is certainly a lot of value in practicing on the real thing, it’s better to get creative and find a reasonable substitute for your instrument instead of not practicing at all. Let’s say you’re a marimba player… you don’t need a full sized Marimba in order to gain comfort with scales and technique; a small, inexpensive electric piano or bell kit will do the trick for theory based practice.  For technique based practice you don’t need anything fancy, either!  There are plenty of minutia and details in your hand setup for you to break down even when you don’t have access to an instrument. Another option (if you have the room) is to get the practice version of your instrument for much less money.  The material you’re playing on may be slightly different but it can simulate the real thing enough for you to translate all the work and improvement over to your instrument.

Practice Journal

Notes you recorded in your practice journal and notes from your most recent lesson can help jar your memory.  Being able to quickly reference what has and hasn’t worked in prior sessions in order to establish a starting point for your practice session is one of the many reasons why you should have a practice journal. The more detailed you are in your practice journal recounting each session (or day) the easier it will be to get measurable results from diligently taking and referencing your notes. Keep a pencil closeby so you can jot down anything notable from during your session.  Bonus points to reference the notes your teacher left you regarding your most recent lesson; repeatedly checking back to review your instructor’s advice can help it sink in a little deeper! 

Music Stand

You have to have something to rest your binder on when you’re learning a new exercise or piece of music.  This does not have to be a literal music stand you’d buy in the music store.  Often I’d just lay my binder on a counter that has a mirror in front of it (bathroom counter works just fine) so anytime I’m not tracking with the sheet music I can check out how I look playing this new music; two birds with one stone!

Metronome and Tuner 

Every musician should have their metronome by their side in every practice session. Rhythmic accuracy is a skill that requires repeated, focused, consistent practice. No one is going to arrive at rhythmic perfection without consistently using the metronome as a tool. Prices vary widely for metronomes; free apps are available for your smartphone that are a little more barebones while a highly advanced, programmable, standalone metronome like the Dr. Beat 90 by Boss costs in the $150 range. Same story with tuners- if you play a tunable, pitched instrument and you’re not using a tuner, your pitch accuracy is likely lacking!  Try keeping your tuner on and visible for the entirety of each practice session for a full week.  Reference the tuner often and adjust as necessary.  I bet you’ll be surprised how much progress you make by way of pitch accuracy simply by heightening your awareness.


Gotta love water! Get yourself a reusable water bottle to bring everywhere with you.  Not only are you going to make the earth happier but you’ll also make every cell in your body smile with some good ol’ water.  But really… anything that physically takes you out of your practice space while you’re trying to get better should be eliminated.  Having to walk to the kitchen or water fountain everytime you need a sip of water is not going to be conducive to your most efficient betterment.  

Honorable Mentions 

- Coffee

- Mirror

- Video camera

- Ear protection


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