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Workspace January 31, 2015

Turns out I’m writing a multi-post series on getting my practice area up and running. In my last post I talked about what software and gadgets I find useful, today I’ll talk about how I’ve arranged my work space for the new year, and some of the other essential items I have on hand.

Now that I’m not renting exterior rehearsal space I’ve had to arrange a corner of my house for music practice. (Actually, there are more like 3 or 4 corners, but we’ll get to that.) One half of my bedroom is now my main work area. I have all my guitars out of their cases and ready to grab lined up against one wall directly across from my desk. I have enough space to stand or sit depending on what I’m practising. I’m next to a big window, so I have lots of natural light, and a big mirror so I can check my form to avoid injury.

A number of my peripherals pertain mostly to writing music. They also need a massive reorganization this year as they’ve gotten out of hand. Currently I have one notebook for writing Kyla Tilley lyrics, one for Molt lyrics, and a moleskin notebook that’s and half staff paper, half blank. It’s my main music writing notebook, and usually follows me around where ever I go. I also keep a thick pad of manuscript paper handy, and lots of loose leaf for other writing. I’m trying to keep the current Molt project in it’s own folder, but I’ve still got lyrics and music ideas scattered across three separate notebooks.

That just covers my music writing notebooks. I also have my shred diary, where I keep track of what passages I’m working on, and what tempo I can play them solidly at for 60sec straight. This is something I’m trying to move to a digital format. I said in my last post I would just pick a new paper notebook for now, but I scrapped that idea and am using a file on my computer to keep track. I haven’t settled on the best way to use it yet, but it will come. I’ve accepted that the writing of music has to occur on paper, but I’m trying to arrange my life so that nothing else needs paper. Also scattered across random notebooks and sheets of paper are notes I’ve taken on what I’ve been practising, and what I need to improve, for tech exercises, as well as for pieces I’m learning. This is another candidate for an improved digital system, which I haven’t attempted yet.

For now, I gather all my notes and papers in one of those boxes for magazines, along with various guitar method books that I refer to regularly. I also have a stamp to make guitar chord charts, hockey tape, climbing tape, and a set of D&D dice. The hockey tape is to make fret markers on my guitar that I can see,(and give me some grip on sweaty stages) the climbing tape is to wrap the fingers of my right hand when I play electric since I use my fore and middle fingers as if they were picks. I’ll explain how I roll up ideas with the dice when I start writing about writing music.

I keep my pedals, my sans-amp, and Zoom recording device on a wheeled lap-top trolley. It mostly lives in the living room, as that’s where the stereo is, and that’s where Julian’s office is, so we work on Molt together in the living room, through our stereo. Maybe not ideal, but it does the trick. My pedals are on a make-shift pedal board, so I just grab that when I want to use them in my main work space.

Then there’s Kyla Barbie. I wanted to buy Software Engineer Barbie (as that’s another skill I’m developing these days) but she’s $150 bucks, which is too much to spend on a Barbie. (Particularly one that’s dressed in regular clothes and sensible(if still cute) wedges.) So I decided to make my own Software Engineer Barbie. Since I kept a selection of my barbies (cause I’m a barbie girl) I grabbed the one that looks most like me, and the counter from the Hair Salon play set to use as a standing desk. Of course, while doing that I stumbled on all Rocker Barbie’s things, so naturally I decided she’d best have an amp and a flying V. (I wish I had a pink flying V.) Since personal computers weren’t the norm when I was playing with barbies, I don’t have one. I thought I could buy a pack of accessories that would include a laptop or something similar, but they don’t seem to sell those anymore. I’ll have to find a dedicated toy store, meanwhile, Rocker Kyla Barbie does the trick.

That’s two music corners covered. The other two are the couch and my bed. When writing certain music, or learning a new piece of music, I find the couch and the coffee table are much more conducive to this activity than my desk, and I mostly write Kyla Tilley songs sitting cross legged on my bed with an acoustic guitar (beneath the glorious view of my shoes). This is some hearkening back to early songwriting days living with roommates and doing all work in my room. My queen sized bed was always filled with my notebooks and papers, and it was a pretty common occurrence for my guitar to spend the night in bed with me. No wonder I had so many nightmares about my guitar being destroyed!

Here’s a shot of Barbie next to all my note books.

And opposite that, my guitars. (Hanging with Julian’s Oud.)

— Kyla
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