A quick guide to help you make the most of your time in the rehearsal studio.
If you don’t have a clear plan for a rehearsal session, it can still be worthwhile and fun, you’re playing music after all. But we think the more you plan, the more you’ll enjoy it and get more done in the process.
Our first tip is so simple yet so important.
1 – Get clear on why you are rehearsing
What’s the purpose? Is it just for fun, are you preparing to record, maybe writing some songs or working in a new band member. It may seem obvious but spending a few moments thinking about why it is that you’re rehearsing is time well spent.
Sometimes I see bands get into a bit of a rut, they just rehearse regularly out of habit, with no real intention more than to meet up, and no specific targets to aim for.
As in so many things, having a clear reason ‘why’ can make organising, decision making and practice easier and more effective…..
Of course, It is perfectly fine to meet up and play for fun, just make sure that you’re all on the same page.
Once you’re clear, consider writing it down or communicating it with your bandmates. Ultimately why you’re rehearsing is related to why you’re in a band in the first place….I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you want to think about that…
2 – Set goals for each session
Once you know why you’re rehearsing set some goals for each session. The sort of things that make good goals include:
- Building a setlist for a gig and running it through
- Running through the set three times
- Refining a setlist, trying different things
- Writing songs or song parts
- Having a jam
- Finalising a specific song ready for recording
- Practising the banter between songs
- Locking bass and drums on that new song…
- Nailing the rhythm section
Streamline your session
Goals are tightly related to purpose, indeed goals should serve the purpose.
Once everyone has a definite direction, you will often find that everything takes a lot less time to do. Everyone will be more focused because they are working toward a tangible goal, whatever it may be.
It’s also easier for everyone to realise it’s happening when you start to drift off course, and quicker to snap back on track – really valuable when you only have a limited time.
Long term goals
If you don’t have any goals – make one up and run with it, or use one of the above. You will probably not only help make the most of your rehearsal time but your career as well.
3 – Prepare for the session
There are lots of ways in which you need to prepare for your sessions:
Communication is key
Have a band channel open in your message app of choice. Facebook is easy, but you might also like Slack, Whatsapp or something else.
Your bandmates are kind of like your business partners. Treat them accordingly and keep them updated with anything and everything to do with the band.
Talking about what you want to get done at an upcoming rehearsal via group messaging can be amazingly helpful. Everyone is walking into the room knowing exactly what everyone else is thinking and what needs to be achieved.
Right place, right time
Choose an optimum time and location for everyone in the band, so that you turn up on time and in the mood.
Make sure that the rehearsal room that you’ve picked suits your needs and goals in terms of equipment, facilities. location and budget.
Consider using an app like doodle to find the best times for everyone.
It starts with you
Have all your gear together ready to go – consider writing and using your own checklist.
Even better, have a rehearsal/gig bag that always has all of this stuff in; ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Here are some examples:
- Drum sticks
- Spare cables!
- Duct tape (Always handy to have around)
Practice your parts at home! Turn up ready to rehearse the songs together and not to learn your parts.
Don’t be the person that holds the sessions back by forgetting to bring leads all the time, or especially not having rehearsed your parts. You might find you won’t be rehearsing much longer!
So now, you know why you’re rehearsing, you’ve set some clear goals and prepared for the session so you’re ready for the studio. Next, what to do in the rehearsal room.
4 – How to set yourself up for a fantastic session
If your bandmates are also your actual mates, it can be pretty tempting to spend the first part of the session catching up. This eats into the time you’ve paid for, leave it until after when you can go for a beer. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss the session – your goals etc.
Make sure your sound is good from the start, a rule of thumb is to start quiet and arrange your equipment in the best way to hear yourself and the rest of the band. ( See more on choosing and setting up a rehearsal room. )
Get warmed up with something familiar, favourite and fun.
Maybe have a simple cover or a song that you always play to get into the mood, get warmed up, soundcheck. Something that you enjoy playing and can fly through without thinking to get yourself into the zone.
Keeping it up
Consider having a leader to run the rehearsals.
Someone needs to say when it’s time to move on, or when you need to keep going on the same part.
Even if you are a democracy…nobody likes a dictator….but someone that directs in a way that supports your goals – that’s magic. You could even swap this duty from rehearsal to rehearsal.
The golden rule
Always remember that in a rehearsal, it’s not about you. The time to work on your face-melting guitar solo is at home, where you can spend hours perfecting that one part.
Rehearsal time with the band is so valuable because you can all work together at something. Listen to how your bandmates are getting along instead of just yourself, and most importantly to how you’re all gelling altogether in a song.
You know why, you’ve set goals, prepared for the session, set up your rehearsal room and now you just need to –
5 – Maintain your collective focus
With such a great start, you’re already half way to a great rehearsal, but you need to keep up the momentum. Here are few ideas for keeping focus in the rehearsal:
Take short breaks
This will really help to keep the energy up. The skill is in making sure these stay short breaks, and not too often.
I know that they’re a computer in your hands and can be useful, as a recorder, for lyrics, as a tuner. But the risk of distraction is high…..Unless you are uber disciplined, and be honest with yourself here. Turn ‘em off and be off-grid for a couple of hours.
Why bring your friends? Unless you decide that the purpose of the session is to entertain, impress or perhaps seduce them – or maybe they’re homeless. They’re just another distraction.
Consider separate sessions
In certain situations, it could actually be more beneficial to get specific parts down before going through it with the rest of the band.
This could be working out vocal harmonies, or drummer and bassist working on locking together.
Don’t waste valuable time and money working out the nuances of an acoustic song while your drummer and bassist are getting annoyed waiting for you to finish.
Find the balance
If someone needs to practise, move on, and conversely – if you do it wrong, start again – work on the parts that you mess up.
Rehearsals are for improving – so you have to go over parts you’re having trouble with and take some time on them. The balance comes in knowing when to move on.
It’s demoralising to keep hammering away at the same part, and takes energy away from the rest of the rehearsal. Don’t be afraid to be the voice of reason and say when to stop.
Shut the f&*^ up when someone is trying something
This is the single, most important rule.
The quiet bits are not to practice your paradiddles, scales….Bohemian Rhapsody. There is nothing worse than everyone playing random stuff at the same time in between songs.
You need to discuss things between songs to move forward. If you have to shout over someone it can get really annoying really quickly.
The final word…
How much is work and how much is just for fun depends really on your attitude and your goals – but if you’re organised you should be able to maximise both – have a great time, be better prepared and enjoy yourself so much more.
Ready to book a rehearsal with us yet?