When I was about 13, I had a little church band that practiced about once or twice every two weeks. We weren’t able to do very much but we tried and actually performed a couple of times. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? As I write this post, I think back on that and compare it to my typical rehearsals today and the differences are vast. The experience of the musicians involved has a lot to do with it, but in reality, all of the tips mentioned below are things that anyone could apply regardless of skill level or age. A big part of being musically successful is rehearsal productivity. The smarter you rehearse, the more prepared you will be to succeed when you and your band hit the stage. Here are a few tips:
- Send out a rehearsal list
In order to make sure your band mates are prepared for rehearsal, send out a list of what you are going to go over that day. This is especially true when preparing new material. If the band already knows the songs that you are going to rehearse, then the list isn’t quite as important. But just be sure that there aren’t any surprises. Your band mates can’t prepare for songs that they didn’t know you were going to rehearse.
- Set a time limit
Rehearsing for hours on end in one sitting can be agonizing and at the end of the day, is everyone really going to retain everything that was rehearsed when they are exhausted? The answer to that question will vary from musician to musician but the goal is to craft a consistent musical product. In order to be consistent, a musician has to allow his or her mind to rest and this includes band rehearsals. I would recommend a two-hour block. It’s enough time to tear into the weeds but not so much time that an entire afternoon or evening is used and therefore the band hopefully won’t be completely spent. This will really depend on the type of band but I would venture a guess that most bands could probably be fairly productive with this block of time as long as everyone was prepared and organized.
- Rehearse parts, not just full songs
The goal when rehearsing is to eventually be able to A. get through the whole song with minimal or no errors, and B. to play as a band. Running a song over and over is generally unproductive and it will ultimately take longer to get the tune down versus working on specific parts and/or sections. In order to attain both A and B, the band has to break the tune down. Many rehearsals that I have been a part of or ran involved running the tune down once in its entirety, working problem sections, maybe running it down once more and then moving on. Keep in mind, this is predicated on people knowing the tunes to some degree prior to the rehearsal.
- Strike a balance when rehearsing old material
Rehearsing old material (songs the band already knows) without gigs in the near future can get tiresome and eventually give way to musical fatigue. While you should brush up on the songs over one to two rehearsals prior to a gig, don’t run them into the ground. Use the time to learn/work on new material and keep the band fresh.
- Take a break here and there
This is closely tied to #2. Everyone needs a break at some point, both individually and as a band. Regardless of how good you are, your mind will need some down time. Sometimes musical fatigue can set in even when everyone is doing their best to be productive. Be sure to schedule/allow for down time where people can get a breather.
There are many more tips that can aid in rehearsals but utilizing these 5 basic guidelines should help prepare you that much more for the stage. Thanks for reading!
Do you have more rehearsal tips or stories? Please share in the comments below!