How to rehearse (How to get in a band part II)
Last week we looked at some tips on starting or joining a band. This week, we’re looking at one of the most important things a band must do effectively but is often taken for granted – the rehearsals!
All successful bands and musicians follow a well structured and disciplined rehearsal schedule, no matter how ‘rock and roll’ they are on stage. Here’s a few pointers to help you on your way.
Of course, I should start by mentioning about hearing protection.
I have been a professional musician for 12 years and have suffered a little hearing damage which was mainly through not bothering to use ear filters (not plugs) in the beginning whilst out playing 6 nights a week.
I now use in ear monitoring which is the best thing since sliced bread (though sliced bread gets all sticky in your ears) and it will stop me from going deaf.
Rehearse – rehearse, rehearse…
When booking a rehearsal – especially the first one – try to book into a proper rehearsal venue, even if you do this only once, which means - not your house, your mate’s house or the local pig-farm where they’ve “done out a room for bands”.
A professional venue will set the tone for the practice and show you what it’s like to ‘go to work’ as a band and a neutral territory keeps everyone’s mind on the job.
It should also have everything you need and all the things you haven’t thought of – spare strings, ear filters, spare cables, sticks, picks, water, tea/coffee, snacks… try to avoid taking alcohol though as it risks the night becoming a party and a massive waste of time (unless it’s an awesome party, but I doubt it).
If you’re not careful, you will build associations with playing or going on stage and ‘having a beer to calm the nerves’ which is not good professional practice for a ‘serious band’.
Once you are at the rehearsal, the most important thing to do is to rehearse!!
Rehearse before the rehearsal!
“What??” I hear you crying out with your mouths wide open, aghast at the paradoxical concept I put before you, but be at ease and I shall explain…
There is nothing worse and infuriating than turning up to a rehearsal where any one of the band members have learnt the song or worked on their part and we all have to sit there while you work out the chords to the bridge or ‘quickly go on the internet to find the words to the 4th verse… if you can’t learn them, PRINT THEM OUT BEFOREHAND.
It shows a lack of attention, commitment and respect for the others who bothered to put the time in and, excuses only make it worse.
Do everyone including yourselves a favour and do the work required so you can MAXIMISE the limited time you have together.
What this means is to make sure you don’t waste your time messing about playing ‘Postman Pat‘ or focusing on lower priority elements that can be sorted outside of the studio where you might be paying per hour.
If a great idea comes up, it’s not a bad thing to go with it and see what happens - maybe record it and work on it later (more on that to come). Also, don’t underestimate taking a
5 minute break once or twice – it does wonders for your tired ears and perspective on the music.
It’s going to take a long time to get you sounding anything like a band and there’s a lot of competition out there so let’s not waste time eh? It’s going to take a little while to get you sounding ‘tight’.
As a band, how do you know what you sound like?
Pick an answer:
a) you can hear yourselves
b) your friends tell you
c) your mum tells you
d) you record yourselves and listen back
All of the above are good feedback, but the best way to really hear yourselves is to record a rehearsal. Nothing fancy, just a microphone or a phone in the centre of the room and hit record. Listen to the arrangements, do they work? Is there something missing? Does it excite you or bore you? Does the song work? Is it too long/short?
If you don’t like it, don’t expect anyone else to!
So many questions, but if you start asking yourself these (and only YOU can answer them) you will be well on the way to getting ready for your first gig…
More next week!