For many musicians, students and music ethusiasts, having a music stand is an essential tool to solo or ensemble work. That being said, many of us may not consider how we might use a music stand efficiently and differently when in performance mode compared to how we do in the practice room. Here are a few music stand hacks and tips to try when practising, performing or using a music stand in an outside-the-box way.
Stand Height & position - Making sure your stand is set up to facilitate a good practice session.
It sounds obvious but having your music stand at an inappropriate height can negatively affect posture and consequently sound production etc. As a violinist, I always have my stand at a height where the scroll of my violin meets somewhere around the middle of the stand's tray, ensuring that I’m not in any way hunched over. The same goes for using a stand in a solo performance that the stand enhances and upholds good posture which underpins all good technique and sound quality.
When in an ensemble situation, it is really important to think about having your stand in a position which enables you to see the leader, conductor or other players. I typically have my stand a little lower than my solo work when I’m playing with my string quartet allowing me to have greater communication. In solo recitals I often do the same. It is really tempting to perform into the music stand and use it to block out the audience, however having the stand positioned well helps to be interactive with the audience and heightens stage presence.
Playing from memory
It may sound contradictory but using a music stand (and the right kind) can help you learn and perform pieces by memory. I like to use my RATStands scherzo stand when practising memorisation. Its swivel head and lightweight construction makes turning the music around when working on memorising a passage or taking the stand away really easy. When performing from memory, don’t forget to move your stand out the way so you can engage with them more.
Extra stand hacks
Don’t forget that music stands are incredibly useful, not just for holding music. I use my music stands to hold pencils and other useful practice accessories i.e. the RATstands concert stand has a lip to store pencils and erasers etc. During lockdown, I used my Scherzo stand as a phone/camera holder to film videos with - it is incredibly sturdy. The scherzo stand is made out of aluminium so can be used with a stand magnet to hold pencils in orchestra or band rehearsals. I also like using stand clips for windy outdoor gigs which help keep music from flying away.