This question has come up a few times recently in a couple of different way so I thought I’d address it. “What do you have in your practice space?” “What should I have in my practice space?” This is a very good question that I’ll speak from experience. I’ll tell you what I have.
Space– I have room enough for my rig. Whether for you this is an acoustic or an amp and pedalboard along with your electric. You need to have space to have everything setup and ready to go. Don’t forget to have space to store your cases as well. If it becomes a chore to move things and make space for everything to be setup, then that gives you a reason not to play. Remove all the barriers you can, so that it just becomes a matter of plugging in and flipping a couple of switches. I fight my tendency to stack things on my amp and placing things in the way all the time. Another thing that I do is I have an amp head that I take back and forth from home, to rehearsal, and to gigs. I keep a speaker at home just for practicing and another speaker at rehearsal that I use there and for gigging. It makes transport easier without having to move around a full amp, plus I have the same tone no matter where I’m at (the head also has a power soak to keep levels neighbor friendly when I’m home).
Easy Access to Outlets (Electric Guitarists Only)– If you have to string extension cords all around your room, apartment, or house, to practice then you won’t practice as much. Just as you need to have space, you need to have the essential of power.
Tools of the Trade– Have whatever you need to play. This is picks, extra strings (just in case), slide (if you use one), ebow (because they’re cool), batteries (depending on your electronic needs), written music (sheet music, lead sheet, or tab), and tuner, just to name a few things. You might need something else that I haven’t thought of. Just as a suggestion, I every once in a while pick up a different style of pick or some other toy to try out. I leave it in my practice space, and see if it inspires me.
A Plan (Optional)– If you are working on a technique, song, or practicing scales, have an idea what you want to accomplish. I say it’s optional, because sometimes it’s good to just pick up the guitar to fiddle around. I don’t want you to think you can’t play if you don’t have a plan, but practice should have a goal in mind. Practicing is all about learning something you haven’t done before, and to keep things you already know fresh in your mind.
Music Stand– Whether you read music, tab, or lead sheets, have a place to put it. There is nothing more annoying than to have to place music in a place where it is hard to see, like sitting at the end of your bed with the music lying next to you or on the floor. It is also a great place to put extra picks, a capo, or tuner. I also have a tie, the digital download card for the Force Awakens, and my iPad charger (I told you I fight to keep from putting things that don’t belong in my practice space, but it doesn’t mean I always succeed).
Metronome– If you don’t have one, then either buy one or download an app. Learn to work with the click. It is unforgiving and will make you a better musician.
Pen and Paper– You might have a good idea that you want to write down. Don’t lose time looking for a pen or paper have it on your music stand ready to go.
Recording Device– Whether you are old school and have a four track or are ready to record to Pro Tools at the drop of a hat, have a way to record your ideas. Music is after all aural in nature be able to record it so you can play it for your bandmates.
iPad– I use my iPad all the time while practicing. I go on YouTube to listen to songs I’m learning, watch tutorial videos, check out gear reviews, watch Cinemasins, and Rig Rundowns. I think some of those things are distractions. Which leads me to my next point…
Remove Distractions– Turn-off your cellphone, turn-off the TV, turn-off your computer, and turn-on your amp. I use my iPad so that I can avoid texts, calls, and emails, which is what my phone is for. My iPad is setup to keep the outside world at bay as much as possible.
Me– I mean you. You don’t have to have me in your practice space, you need to have you in your practice space. I think I’d just be in the way and be one of those distractions if I were in your practice space. I need to be in my practice space. Plus imagine the travel expense of having to be in your practice space. Although I’d take the gig if it came with health insurance, dental plan, and 401K.
Hopefully that helps you know what to have around you when practicing. Drop me a line if you have any other ideas. Right now I think I’ll download Force Awakens while I watch Cinemasins. Wait a minute, no I think I’ll play my guitar.