Effective Band Rehearsal
If your band is in rehearsals, either preparing for gigging, or practising new songs to add to your repertoire, the chances are you will have to hire a rehearsal room. The costs of hiring a room can soon mount up if you don't organise your time effectively. You could be wasting time and money going around in circles, with a growing frustration that your band doesn't seem to be making any progress.
The answer is to set a Schedule for your rehearsals. Without a schedule it's difficult to monitor progress if in fact any is made. Disorganised rehearsals can soon turn into chaos, with everyone throwing in ideas and playing different things at the same time. The rehearsal is not the time for your guitarist to hone his right hand tapping skills, or your drummer to perfect his lightning fast paradiddles, it is valuable time for working together as a band, and should be used as such. Band members should have their own private schedules for practising instruments and learning new techniques. During a rehearsal you should all be working towards the same goal and making each other sound as good as possible. The rehearsal should never turn into a 'who can play the loudest' competition.
What should your schedule consist of?
Set goals for your rehearsal times and WRITE THEM DOWN! You should know which songs you are going to rehearse in advance. If you have planned your strategy, you will avoid getting stuck in a rut and your time will be used constructively. Songs you already know can be perfected and the little nuances worked on, stamping your own identity on cover songs and putting the finishing touches to originals.
You should make a list of 'finished' songs, 'work in progress' songs, and 'new ideas'. As each one progresses, move it up into the next category, thereby revising the schedule for your next rehearsal.
I would suggest starting with 2 or 3 songs you are happy and comfortable with, simply to give the band a positive vibe to build on, and then start work on new numbers. Set aside a certain amount of time for each song, and then move on! Don't waste time trying to perfect something that just isn't working, you can come back to it later or at the next rehearsal. Perfect the numbers that do work, and you will see positive results as your repertoire builds up considerably.
Always take regular breaks. Coming back to a number that wasn't going too well with fresh ears can often be all it needs to make a distinct improvement. If that doesn't help, there's no point in flogging a dead horse, so move it to the bottom of the list or consider dropping the song altogether and concentrating on another one.
Work on band dynamics and expression, i.e. fast, slow, loud, and quiet. Get your fills as tight and as fluent as possible. What you are working on is that elusive 'feel' that is the hallmark of a good band. Everybody should not only be playing his/her own instrument, but also actively listening to the rest of the band.
Tape your rehearsal. You don't need any fancy recording equipment - a simple tape deck and mic will be sufficient. The idea is simply for the band to be able to listen to their efforts afterwards. Listening to a song while you're not playing means you can listen more subjectively and discuss the merits. Take notes while you listen, that way you are already forming the schedule for the next rehearsal.
And finally, remember; you are in a band! As such, the sum of the parts should be greater than the individual contribution.
Tony Williams is a musician, writer, and self-confessed eBay fanatic. Take time out from the stress of band rehearsals and lighten up with MuZiCk! The irreverent rock music lexicon at: http://www.muzick.co.uk
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