Happy 2016! Yes, I know I’m a little late to the party, the cake has been cut, and everyone has had a piece. So sue me! Just kidding, I have taken a couple month’s hiatus from this blog as I’ve been working on another blog about my work with the military band while on tour. Since that tour (and associated blogging) is wrapping up, then I thought it was high time to kick this one back up!
Late last year, I wrote a post regarding productive band rehearsal tips and after reviewing it, I think it’s worthy of a part 2. You can read part 1 here. Band rehearsal is something that takes practice (you have to practice practicing!), constant evaluation, and modification based on goals, people, styles, etc. The list could go on and on! While those are variables, you can use the following tips to help you in your rehearsal efforts:
- Specify the end game
It’s very important to set a goal. If you are just wanting to jam that is fine too, but if you are shooting for a performance, then jamming will not get you anywhere. Clearly define the goal and organize your rehearsals in such a way as to help you attain what you’re after. It could be a talent show or recording an original album. Whatever the goal, make sure it is clear to everyone in the group.
- Rehearsal is for the group, not the individual
Many articles have mentioned this concept and it is always worth bringing up. Coming to rehearsal prepared can mean the difference of getting called back or not for a gig. It showcases that you have taken the time to work out your part and are ready to work with the group to finalize and tweak the product for performance. If everyone does this, the product comes together that much faster and smoother.
- Rehearse in the same fashion that you will perform
To the extent that you’re able, it’s always wise to practice together the same way that you will perform. Have your gear setup the way you will use it live, play through transitions as though you were in front of an audience, and even work on audience interaction and stage presence. The more that you practice, the more prepared you will be when you hit the stage. Anything can happen live and the more you have engrained, the easier it can be to deal with issues/unplanned occurrences live.
- Get out of the sheet music/chart (if used). If not, listen to each other!
I included 2 suggestions in this tip because not everyone uses charts. Regardless of whether you do or not, it is essential to listen to what is going on and be engaged with the rest of the band. Once everyone knows the tune (via the chart or memory), think about the following things (although these should be in your mind at all times):
- How is the drummer feeling the hits? Front end of the beat? Back end?
- Where are the group hits? Is everyone locking into the pocket and feeling them the same way?
- Do you have lines that are unison or harmonize with someone else? Are you actually playing together?
Though there are many more that could be listed here, being mindful of these few things and acting accordingly will polish the overall product and will help set your group apart from others.
- Don’t be afraid to change something that isn’t working
Everyone handles these sorts of things differently but sometimes it can be easy to slip into a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “eh, it’ll work” mentality. These mindsets will hold your group back and will hinder the musical product. If something doesn’t really feel right, then there might very well be something strange about it. Change it! Find something better! Get creative. The more you can catch these things and keep from settling, the more the musical product will reflect it.
Do you have rehearsal tips or questions? Please share them in the comment section!