Here on the TakeLessons Blog, we’ve discussed general piano practice tips, and well as how to structure and plan out your practice time. But if you don’t have your practice space set up just right, you still could be costing yourself valuable time and energy.
Fortunately, we received a sneak peak of an eBook designed to help you set up your space for success, so you can practice piano at home efficiently and comfortably. We’re excited to check out the eBook, written by Allysia over at PianoTV.net, and we wanted to share the excerpt below with you in the meantime!
Continue reading to check it out…
If I had a dollar for every time a student told me, “I didn’t practice because my piano is stuffed away in a dark, cold basement,” I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d be able to buy something really nice.
If your piano is hard to get to (like in a basement), or at the center of the action (in a living room where your five other family members are always hanging out and watching TV), it’s going to be really hard to set up a regular practice schedule. If your basement creeps you out, why would you want to go there every day to practice piano? If your family is yelling at you to be quiet, are you really going to have an enjoyable session?
Do everything you can to put your piano in a nice, quiet area that you feel comfortable in. My piano is in a sunny side room (where I teach), but if you live in a dwelling with a lot of other people, having a keyboard in your bedroom is a great idea too.
The following image outlines what I consider to be the ideal piano practice space, with all the necessary tools to succeed.
This is fairly obvious – you’ll have a hard time practicing without a piano or keyboard. Nothing fancy is required here, but do try to get something with weighted keys, as it helps develop your finger strength. A full-length (88 keys) keyboard isn’t necessary in the beginning, but will be after about a year, so keep that in mind.
2. Piano bench
Please, for the love of everything that is good, use a bench and not a chair. Chairs are usually too low and promote poor posture. If the chair has arms, they’ll be in the way of your own arms. Benches aren’t that expensive and you can even get adjustable ones if you’re feeling fancy.
3. Music stand
All pianos and most keyboards come with a built-in music stand, but not all do. If your keyboard doesn’t have a stand, you’ll have to get creative. You can buy a music stand (the kind you used in band) and put it behind your keyboard – I used that set-up for years.
4. Notebook + pen and pencil
I keep a notebook with all my practice goals on my piano in an organizer tray. If your piano doesn’t have the space for something like that, just make sure you keep it close at hand – you’ll be using it regularly. I like having a pen to write in my notebook, and a pencil to make marks directly on the music.
If you have an electric keyboard, read through the manual – most have a metronome function. If it can emphasize certain beats (like the first beat of a measure), then great! Otherwise, being able to tap a specific tempo is all it needs to do. You can buy manual metronomes, the kind that go back and forth like a clock (I grew up with one of those), or electric ones. There are even metronome websites if you want to use your phone or tablet (be careful though, it shouldn’t be a huge pain to load up to use, or else you won’t want to use it).
6. Good lighting
If your practice room isn’t very bright, get a lamp, because the last thing you want to do is get a headache squinting at music, or worse, hurt your back hunching forward. I’m a big fan of lamps – they’re pretty and add ambiance.
7. Good temperature
Cold is bad. Cold tenses up your body and your fingers, so not only will it be harder to play, it’ll be more strenuous too. This is reason #731 not to have your piano stuffed in a basement, unless you’re one of the rare few with a warm basement. Plus, in creating an inviting space to play, most of us don’t feel ‘invited’ if we have to bundle on the layers just to practice.
Reason #732 not to put your piano in a basement. A flight of stairs might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re lounging on the couch in front of the TV, it really will. If your piano is near or a part of your living space, you’ll be a lot more likely to sit down and play. Trust me. Make it as easy as possible to get to your piano.
9. Cozy and inviting
If your space has good lighting, it’s at a good temperature, and it’s easy to get to, you’re 80% of the way there. I have a music organizer on my piano that keeps things from getting cluttered, a lamp that looks nice, a flowering plant, and an ornamental bongo just because. My piano space looks like somewhere I want to hang out and spend time.
Make sure there’s a clock nearby so you can keep track of your practice time. I usually set time estimates for how long I practice (10 minutes of warm-up, 15 minutes of technique, etc), so a clock is invaluable for staying organized and focused.
11. Bulletin board (and other wall accessories)
Optional but awesome. Most pianos are staring into a big blank wall – not very exciting. A bulletin board at your practice space can go a long way to make it awesome – you can put up pictures, inspirational posts, your goals, anything you want. Or you could put up a white board and write your weekly practice plans on that. Or you could put some art on the wall.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, your practice space should be inviting. If you play piano to relax, make it a space that relaxes you. If you’re planning on spending three or four hours of your week there (or more), do what you can to make it nice.
Readers, what tips have you found effective as you practice piano at home? What other items do you keep nearby? Let us know in the comments!