Want to be a great musician? Then, you have to practice — a lot! Having the proper tools and practice space will help with organization, workflow, accuracy, and time management in order to make the best use of your practice time. The more of your practice tools you can leave handy, the more likely you are to practice. Have a comfortable chair with everything you need readily available and make that space as distraction-free as possible. Set long- and short-term goals with steps to achieve them and be realistic about your available time. A music stand is an absolute must — the sturdier, the better. Thicker songbooks by themselves will topple a flimsy music stand. If the light over your practice area isn’t aimed at the right spot, clip-on music stand lights are a great way to ensure that you can see what you’re reading. Metronomes make you aware of exactly how steady tempo feels when executing an unfamiliar piece of music, training you to play it with correct subdivision. They expose trouble spots, allowing you to start slowly and gradually increase your speed accurately. With repeated use, a metronome can also improve your “internal clock.” Listening to a recording of your playing gives you the objectivity you can’t have while you’re concentrating on performing. Your phone or iPad is a portable solution for this because you can see and hear yourself. Use a recording app or a DAW and an interface for the highest audio quality and flexibility. Quality studio monitors reveal more detail when listening, and headphones are good for private practice or close inspection of recorded music that you’re learning. Writing everything down will help you to remember what you’ve done, what you need to do, what your goals are, and how you’ve progressed in your practice routine. Mirado Black Warrior pencils and blank staff or tablature paper are essential; a three-ring binder notebook with plastic sleeves will keep your music in performance-ready shape. Or go virtual and use a computer or tablet for all these tasks! Get your practice space together and your time organized for super-efficient practice time; that way, you’ll be motivated to practice more and you’ll get more out of each session.
With a three-decade career as a professional guitarist in Nashville, Tennessee, Sweetwater's Don Carr has a long list of album credits in multiple genres of music. His resume includes hundreds of radio and television appearances, as well as thousands of live performances in America and abroad as lead guitarist for the legendary Oak Ridge Boys. Don provides Sweetwater with professional insight through product demos, reviews, how-to’s, and group instruction.