Where You Practice Matters: Ogle Hans Zimmer’s Lair

Hans Zimmer’s practice room and work station (the grand piano is behind the camera)

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

Hans Zimmer is an award-winning film composer and music producer. You can seem more pics of his work/practice space here. Here’s the first part of his Wikipedia entry <snip>

Hans Florian Zimmer (German pronunciation: [hans ˈfloːʁi̯aːn ˈtsɪmɐ]; born 12 September 1957) is a German film composer and music producer. He has composed music for over 100 films, including award winning film scores for The Lion King (1994), Crimson Tide (1995), The Thin Red Line (1998), Gladiator (2000), The Last Samurai (2003), The Dark Knight (2008) andInception (2010). He is the head of the film music division at DreamWorks studios and works with other composers through the company which he founded, Remote Control Productions.[1]

Zimmer’s works are notable for integrating electronic music sounds with traditional orchestral arrangements. He has received four Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, a Classical BRIT Award, and an Academy Award. He was also named on the list of Top 100 Living Geniuses, published by The Daily Telegraph.[2]

Of course, few of us have the resources to build an awesome space like Zimmer’s when we’re starting out, but the most important things about your practice space have absolutely nothing to do with money or coolness. Here’s what people like Ingrid Jensen, Sidiki Dembele, Rex Martin, Erin McKeown, Bobby Broom, Nicholas Barron, Prasad Upasani, and several other fantastic musicians have taught me about where you practice.

  1.  If possible, dedicate a room, or a space in your room to playing music. Leave your instruments out and readily available. This way, you can enter the space and not waste time assembling your instrument or finding tools you need. This also allows you to easily pick up your axe and toss off a tune or a lick you’ve been working on at a moment’s notice. More frequent practice throughout the day is better than one long session.
  2. Privacy. Probably the most important aspect, this has two parts. First, privacy will allow you a space free from distractions, so you can focus intently on playing music. Turn off your phone, make it known you’re not to be disturbed. Ingrid Jensen hangs a “Do Not Disturb” sign on her door. The second part has to do with having the freedom to make noise. I always feel self-conscious practicing in my apartment. It was much better when my parents sent me to the garage as a kid. Much more private. You need the privacy to repeat things many times, to make mistakes, and to feel you’re not being judged for it. Though a private space would be great, you may have to cultivate the difficult skill of not caring who hears you practice. Be careful with this superpower. It comes with responsibility.
  3. Gear. The only gear you really need is your instrument. Other good things to have in your practice space are a piano, recording devices, sheet music (and a stand), your phone (with killer aps like Prasad Upasani’s iTabla Pro. Highly recommneded.), and a computer. Rex Martin makes great use of the super-powerful Spectre program. Bobby Broom records ideas or techniques he want to work on with his computer and keeps them all in a special file. When he’s searching around for something to practice, all he has to do is open up the file and choose something. Have all your gear(computer, recording devices, or w.e.) out and ready, too, so you don’t have to search for them.
  4. You might not be able to do any of these. Sidiki Dembele, the amazing djembe player, had to sneak out a mile or two outside his village to practice so he wouldn’t get into trouble (his father didn’t want him to be a musician). Even if you don’t have a musical lair like Hans Zimmer, or even a room in your house, the most important of all these things is FOCUS. It’s easier if you have privacy, but not necessary. If you look at the last post, you’ll see the Dorado and Samson Schmitt practicing in the kitchen with lots of distractions. It probably smelled good, too. Focus is a state of mind and with practice (hehe), you can use it anywhere.

Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice.

And because I like putting up video, here’s some of Hans Zimmer’s greatest hits:

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