For singers, spending lots of time practicing is essential. They are the places where we warm up, prepare roles and repertoire, and altogether do the work that's necessary to be the best musicians we can be. I don't have my own private studio to practice in, but rather use the practice rooms at my university. Unfortunately, shared practice rooms can sometimes mean sharing other people's germs and messes. It also means that you cannot decorate or arrange the space in the way you would necessarily like to. However, I've come up with a few ways to make the shared practice room experience a little more enjoyable.
Whether or not you believe in all the benefits of aromatherapy, I think we can all agree that it's nice to be in a place that smells good. I bought a very small portable aromatherapy diffuser at one point hoping to use it in my apartment. While it wasn't powerful enough for my living space, I realized that it was the perfect size for a practice room. I keep it and a bottle of orange essential oil (to promote energy and happiness) in my bag to use while practicing, and it makes such a difference!
I'm a bit of a germaphobe, and the thought of touching piano keys that hundreds of other students have touched grosses me out. Illness seems to always spread like wildfire through the school of music, and communal pianos may be partially to blame. To combat this, I always keep individually wrapped antibacterial wipes in my bag to wipe down pianos before I use them. I also keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with me. It's especially useful when I need to touch your face for various warmups or exercises.
I created a practice journal last semester, and now I have no idea how I survived without one for so long! Before every practice session, I write down my specific goals. During my practice, I keep record of how long I practiced, how my voice feels in comparison to the previous day, what I worked on, where my trouble spots were, and if I achieved all the goals I'd set for myself that day. I also created a little chart to keep track of how many hours I've practiced total. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to see how much I've practiced over time, and keeping a record of my practice helps me stay on track with my goals. It's helped me to have much more intentional and productive practice time.
Along with my practice journal, I also keep a notebook with translations and IPA written out for my pieces, as well as any relevant notes about my repertoire. I like having separate translations and IPA in addition to having it written into my score so that I can speak the text without being influenced by the notes or rhythms. I like to get the language and meaning into my brain before working on the music. It's also helpful to keep notes about the composer, librettist/poet, performance history, etc. in one place for easy reference.
I hope that some of these ideas are useful additions to your practice routine. Which of these are most helpful to you, and what kinds of things do you use to have productive, effective practice sessions? Leave a comment down below!