To make your guitar practice as efficient as it can be, it makes sense to take some time and think about creating your perfect practice space.
Create a permanent space for your practice
Many guitar players don´t have a designated practice space. They get the guitar out of the case, dump their materials on the kitchen table and stash it all away when they are done. This should be avoided, because it creates another step – preparing to practice – before the actual practice and makes it mentally more challenging to stick to your daily practice routine Just the thought “Uggh, I have to clean up the kitchen table, get all my stuff out, set up and then practice…” causes a lot of inner resistance to even get started. With everything already set up, your inner resistance to practice will be much lower, because you can simply sit down and get to it. Having a separate music room would be the ideal scenario, but if that is not possible you can simply find a corner and turn it into your practice corner. Whatever your solution is – you need a designated space for your practice, so you can sit down and practice without any preparation.
Establish a do not disturb policy in your home
The next thing you will need is: uninterrupted, high quality time to focus on your practice. It takes a few minutes to get your mind into practice mode and then you ideally want to stay in that focused state as possible. If you get distracted every five minutes, your focus and the quality of your practice will suffer greatly.
To avoid this, gather your family members and explain that learning the instrument is really important to you and that getting better takes a lot of focus and discipline. Ask them to support you in this and make an agreement that each member of the family will respect the other´s time when they are involved in their favorite activity. You won´t interrupt your son when he is in his video game hour and ask him to bring out the trash and he can´t interrupt you, when you´re practicing guitar. Create a written schedule to make sure everyone knows the uninterrupted time for each person and train your family members to follow the schedule. It will take some time until it becomes a habit, but it will give you high quality practice time when it finally works.
Cut out all distractions
Now that you have created some scheduled time when you can be undisturbed by family members, you also have to eliminate all the other distractions, that might ruin your focus during practice. Turn off your computer and phone. If you use your phone as a metronome, switch on the “do not disturb” mode and turn all notifications off. If you have to use your computer during practice, use a software to block the internet for specific sites like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. to make sure that stuff does not pull you in and wastes your time and focus. I have installed a switch on my door bell, so I can turn that off too, when I practice.
Get the tools you need
I use a keyboard bench as my practice chair and it works great. It has a good padding and the height is adjustable.
Get used to practicing in the classical position, having the guitar rest on your left leg which is raised by the help of a footstool. The position will give you the best results.
I´m using different kinds of metronomes for my practice. Sometimes I use an old fashioned one with a pendulum and sometimes I use an app on my phone. Changing my metronome from time to time brings in a little fresh air for me, but that´s just one of my quirks. You simply have to get one and use it on a regular basis.
Get a small practice amp with headphone and line in jacks. You can now plug-in your metronome (line-in) and your headphones and be in your own little world, without disturbing anyone around you. Even if you only want to play acoustic, I´d also get an electric guitar for my practice.
Get a good quality cable and leave your guitar plugged in.
You don´t want to search for a pick when you start practicing, so always leave your pick on your music stand.
Pair of headphones
Get some good quality headphones (I prefer the ones that really close around your ears) to help you stay focused and block out outside noise. If you are practicing in a guitar corner, wearing your headphones will also emphasize that you cannot be disturbed right now.
Get a sturdy music stand and have all the materials you are working on right on it, so you don´t have to search for stuff when practice time comes.
Make sure to get a good light for your music stand, so you can read your materials without eye-strain during your practice.
Get a guitar stand for your practice space and always leave your guitar in that stand so you can quickly grab it when you have a free minute and get some more practice in. Having the guitar in its case creates a higher resistance to get started.
You should have your practice journal right there with your study materials and jot down your metronome settings etc. during each practice session.
I have a small table-top mirror in my practice area to check my hands from different directions, making sure everything is correct from time to time.
It´s mentally easier to focus for short, timed periods than simply taking an item and practicing for half an hour, so I´m always using a timer during my practice sessions. I prefer a wristwatch with repeating intervals to do this.
Your favorite beverage
I have my own practice ritual and always start by preparing my favorite coffee before I practice. This really gets me excited and in the mood for a great session.
About the author:
Derk Stiepelmann is a professional guitar instructor, offering highly effective guitar lessons in Dortmund, Germany, helping his students reach their guitar playing goals.