Anyone in a band will know that band rehearsals can sometimes be the biggest waste of time. They get derailed easily, no one is on the same page, and it can be a total mess. If you and your band struggle to make the most out of your time in rehearsals, read on for some tried and tested tips.
The Space Itself
Firstly, the space you are rehearsing needs to be maximized for productivity. Ideally, you should be using a space that is solely for the rehearsals; anything else can lead to distractions. Rehearsing in a band member’s house can lead to issues such as noise complaints. Renting a rehearsal space can be a wise choice for bands, but it can be hard to know where to look, especially for bigger cities. Imagine looking for rehearsal space in New York; however, there are companies that can help. For example, Pirate has a number of studio and rehearsal spaces across various cities in several countries. They also offer discounted day rates, so renting space may not be as expensive as you once thought.
Having a decisive plan of what you want to do in the rehearsal is essential. Band rehearsal is usually for one of three reasons: building a setlist, refining a setlist, or songwriting. Depending on your purpose, your structure will need to be different. When building a setlist, try to focus on four or five songs; doing any more than that is too much if you want to get them perfect. Refining a setlist is when you should go through the setlist in order and make any notes about where you think something is or isn’t working and come back to them at the end. Songwriting is notoriously tricky and deserves its own standalone session. When trying to create, the distractions need to be at a minimum, and sometimes your existing material can be distracting to the process. Finally, schedule breaks into your practice as not only are they vital for the process; it also puts a stop to any unnecessary halts to the practice when there are designated break times.
You may find that this is a part of your structuring process, but deciding what areas need work is key. Decide on what needs work as opposed to what you want to work on. Usually, bands should endeavour to have any existing material totally polished before they introduce any new things. As a band, you should all be communicating and making sure each member is happy with something before it’s signed off on. For example, if you find yourself constantly struggling with one song or one aspect, then dedicate more time to it at the next rehearsal. Some bands may find prioritising easier if they appoint a point person. Although the best bands are a democracy, sometimes it can be helpful to have someone in charge to lead the others through the process.
Another way to ensure that a rehearsal runs smoothly is to make sure each member is prepared for it. Everyone should know their parts and prepare individually before coming together for the rehearsal. It is a waste of the band’s time and resources to work on something that could be done at home. Try to allocate any ‘homework’ to each band member; for example, after a songwriting section, decide on one member whose job is to circulate tabs/chords/lyrics and any relevant references.
Record & Review
You should record your rehearsals as a standard practice. You don’t need a professional setup to do this; any smartphone will do. Visuals are ideal, but audio recordings will do in a pinch. Seeing your rehearsals back can help to identify areas of concern and allow you to see if the execution matches the vision that you had. You may think that you have got something down, but when you watch it back, it needs more work. Recording your practices can give you a rough idea of what the audience will experience.
Try to leave a little bit of time at the end of the practice for the band to discuss how it went. Getting these ideas out in the open quickly is vital to the process as otherwise, they could be forgotten or derail the next rehearsal. Take notes and use these notes to help you decide what should be prioritised next time. Keeping the lines of communication open between band members is crucial to the creative process.
These tips provide a good foundation for you to work from but remember that every band is different and may have different needs or creative processes. The pre and post-rehearsal processes are just as important as the time spent rehearsing. A solid few hours a week rehearsing is usually enough for most bands to keep themselves fresh. Remember, any band that wants to progress in their career needs to make sure that they are getting the most out of their rehearsals.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.