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The Five Most Important Things to Keep on Your Music Stand

How many times have been without a crucial tool needed for practicing? It sucks, and taking time out of practicing only makes it worse. Here are some of the most important things to keep on your music stand.

  1. A Pencil (or three) because it’s the most important tool you’ll use. Don’t be afraid to take notes on your music or writing extra dynamics or put in phrasing slurs. And never write in pen because, lets face it, you’ll probably change your mind.
  2. A notebook because you keep a practice log. Use the notebook to track things that are better left off the sheet music. This includes ideas about practicing and interpretation that aren’t easily conveyed in expression markings.
  3. A metronome is handy to have around as well. Using a metronome doesn’t have to mean working up a tempo one or two notches at a time. Instead try playing at a slow tempo followed by a tempo about 10% below concert tempo and finally concert tempo. There’s a lot of ways to use a metronome, but don’t become reliant on it in every aspect of practicing.
  4. A Tuner can be used if you’re not comfortable tuning to your metronome’s A440.
  5. Your music. I only add this one because our memories are faulty. Many of you probably have pieces memorized –pieces that you play every day. That’s great! It’s good to have concert-ready pieces like that. But don’t forget the score all together. Keep looking at the sheet music, and refresh your memory about all the little details.

Do you have a practice space at home? What do you keep nearby? Maybe we all need drink holders on our stands?

10 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 September 22

    I always keep my nail files and micro mesh close by, I even have a set in my office drawer, in my guitar case, in my computer bag and in my practice studio at home just in case. When I start leaving them in my car there will probably be an intervention.

  2. 2010 September 22

    This is a good article. I keep everything related to my playing; music, tuner, footstool, pencils, whiteout, spare change, etc in a briefcase. When I am teaching, everything I need is right there. When I leave for a recital or gig , everything I need to play for the evening is there too. Briefcases are like a classical guitarists toolbox. I also ask my students to keep one too. The ones who do, find that they are less likely to forget their music and are well prepared for lesson. I have even managed to cut my folding music stand down with a pipe cutter and dremel, so that fits in my briefcase as well. If you check the local thrift stores or Salvation Army, briefcases are to be had for a couple of dollars.

    Jim Doyle

  3. 2010 September 22
    vince permalink

    A metronome is absolutely vital.
    The best classical guitarists and pedagogues in the world use it.

    Look at
    *Alvaro Pierri
    http://fotos.ligita.li/web2005/kurs_pierri/
    *Manuel Barrueco
    *Chen Zhi
    *David Russell
    *Martha Masters
    *Ana Vidović

    Googling will give you 100% evidence that these top guitarists use a metronome.

    And why do they use it?
    Off my head I can mention numerous reasons:
    *technique practice (speed up, even scales, tremolo practice)
    *preventing rushing and hesitations (preventing ugly rhythm distortion)
    *learning to keep an exact rhythm
    *playing at the correct tempo (respecting the composer)
    * etc.

    Nice post, thanks,
    V.

  4. 2010 September 22

    I would add an audio record to the above list. When I am practicing I often focus on just a few aspects of my playing and don’t really pay attention to the overall sound. Listening to a recording of a practice session allows me to really listen without the common distractions that come with practicing.

  5. 2010 September 23
    John F permalink

    I keep those exact things on my stand. I’ve been playing for a while but linked up with a professional teacher a few years ago. I’m currently working on my third grade level hoping to test at the end of the year. In addition to your list, I also keep a few colored highlighters.

    I find highlighters are great for marking dynamic notes. These are often in really small font and easy to forget when learning a new piece. In addition to the 4-5 pieces my instructor gives me to work on at a time, I have a longer term advanced piece, several exercise and sight reading sheets of music I’m working on. So the other item I suggest having near by is a copier. You can copy sheets or lines and have it all on your stand and not have to fight with the giant books we often have to deal with. All in one printers have copy functions and are relatively cheap.

  6. 2010 September 23

    A light! Can’t say how many times my music has been unreadable due to poor lighting on stage. I like the little clip-on LED reading lights.

  7. 2010 September 23

    Number 6….A shot of jager for when you’re having a frustrating session.

  8. 2010 November 15
    Peter Whitte permalink

    Yeah,a light for sure! As I get older, my eyes aren’t able to see teh music quite as well. I recently got one of those new class of LED music stand lights, something called Aria Lights (http://www.arialights.com). It really helps my aging eyes and it’s really bright. Now I can actually see the notes again!

  9. 2011 April 22

    Many musicians are sensitive to the spectrum of color in a light and don’t even know it. Flourescent lights, especially the inexpensive ones used in institutions and commercial spaces. Lights in the blue spectrum can make some scores almost unreadable and can trigger everything from migraines to epileptic seizures if the lights are flickering just before they start to fail completely. If your practice area seems to be uncomfortable, a little bit of light in the red spectrum can be very refreshing. It might be anything from a forty watt bulb over your stand, to one of the new sunlite type flourescents that add in that little bit of “red’ light that our eyes seem to crave. Just a thought.

  10. 2013 January 9

    I have everything and an easy chair that I lean back into to play. I have rubber matting rigged to the chair and me to keep the instrument in place. No slippage for me unless the stuff drys out. I also wear a right arm sleeve to protect the top of my instrument. In the winter I keep a jucy-juic in the rosetta to keep moisture levels proper and a hygrometer to assure it is not too wet or too dry.

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