The Five Most Important Things to Keep on Your Music Stand

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?

Posted on in Classical Guitar Practice Tips


  • matt

    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.

  • Jim Doyle

    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

  • vince

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

    Look at
    *Alvaro 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,

  • John

    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.

  • John F

    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.

  • Joe Walker

    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.

  • Peter Whitte
    Peter Whitte

    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 ( It really helps my aging eyes and it’s really bright. Now I can actually see the notes again!

  • Charles Consaul

    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.