What do you bring to practice? I always make sure to bring the following seven must-haves with me especially when I know I will be spending hours in the practice room. Some of them are obvious, others not as much but are equally important to me.
1. Comfortable clothes
Feeling too cold increases the risk of injury, and feeling too hot makes me end practice sessions earlier, so apart from wearing something that I can easily move my body in, I bring a light jacket with me in summer and dress in layers in winter.
2. Score and music
You may think it is a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the number of musicians that practice without their music. I always make sure to have the score with me so that I can analyse every detail written by the composer. It is especially important when I have to collaborate with another musician-- we have to know each other's part as well as ours.
I always silent my phone before practice, but I do keep it with me for the following reasons:
Metronome: to check the tempo and pulse from time to time
Timer: I usually set my timer to 25 mins. Mini-breaks are crucial to injury prevention. Taking 5 minutes to clear the mind makes practice much more effective and efficient.
Video/ audio recording: to listen to my playing from a listener's perspective or to observe whether I hold excessive tension in the body.
4. Music Journal
This is my favourite item. I keep a notebook specifically dedicated to music. I bring it with me to practice and masterclasses, so that whenever I discover or learn something new I can jot them down. It has helped me become an independent learner because I am always able to find solutions and reminders from the journal when I feel stuck.
5. Pen/ Pencil
Having something to write with is important for practice, rehearsals and lessons. I use it for fingerings, phrasing, highlighting details or voicing... basically everything I need to remember or visualise the music.
6. Water and Snacks
Drinking water keeps your body hydrated and reduces the risks of injury. I also bring snacks with me because let's be honest, there is nothing worse than finishing a rigorous session and feel like starving. I suffer from episodes of low blood sugar, so having dried fruits, nuts, biscuits or chocolate gives me the energy I need.
7. Clear mind
Last but not least, a clear mind is integral to each practice session. Life can be hectic, we might be troubled by something else, but before we get into the practice room, it is important to leave the anxiety at the door and focus on the practice.
What are your essentials for practice?