December 07, 2021
It doesn’t matter if you’re a bona fide rockstar or a part time hobbyist, almost no one really gets enough practice time, especially with other people. You might all have full time jobs and families vying for your time, or you could be dealing with constant touring and press appearances. No matter what your situation, making the most of your precious rehearsal time is the key to putting together a solid ensemble (or solo act).
Here, we talk a little about maximizing your rehearsal time.
Rule number one at rehearsal: no distractions. If you’ve got four hours every other week, you’re not served by spending two of them having a beer and gossiping about venues. Or making dinner. Or talking about business and deciding whether to accept gigs. All of these things can be done another time, so focus your rehearsal time on that.
Rehearsal is distinct and separate from practice, especially in an ensemble. If you expect the group to gel, to be able to work through whole set lists, and fine tune your group’s sound, you can’t be learning the material in the room. Come to rehearsal practiced up and ready to rock.
You may not be served by gossiping for two hours of your four-hour slot, but you’re really not served by setting up gear for two of those hours. If at all possible, put together a rehearsal space that’s set and ready to go. Go as far with this as you can afford. If you can afford to set up a whole duplicate drum kit, backline, PA, amps, and keyboard set up – go for it! Ring it out and leave it set up permanently. If you can’t do all that, at least get as efficient as possible setting up and tearing down and use that as practice for doing it quickly at gigs.
Just like successful sports teams and athletes, in order to maximize time in training (rehearsal), a solid plan of action helps – a lot. Whether it’s working on a certain few songs, running through the set for a particular upcoming gig, or drilling hard transitions, make a plan ahead of time rather than discussing it at the last minute. This doesn’t mean you can’t leave room for inspiration and jamming, but don’t expect to get much done if there’s no plan of attack.
You may need charts, notes, lyrics, water, special shoes – whatever it is, get organized ahead of time and come to rehearsal with all your stuff organized and ready to go. Nobody needs to wait for you to dig around your bag for that one set of lyrics. Pro tip for singers: Arrange lyric books in the order of the setlist so you’re not searching between songs.
If you get stuck on something, rehearsal is the time to ask questions, communicate with each other, and figure it out. It may be surprising, but too often the details that trip bands up are the ones they decide will work themselves out on stage. Unfortunately, they rarely do, so work the kinks out in rehearsal, even if it’s frustrating.
Warmups work wonders for playing well and singers especially need to warm up every time. If possible, each individual should warm themselves up ahead of rehearsal so the group isn’t starting cold, and then it can be helpful to go through some kind of group warm up to get synced up.
Finally, on behalf of everyone waiting for that one person to show up…stop being late! ‘Nuff said.
At the end of the day, rehearsal is yours to do with as you please, and there are a hundred ways to make the best of that time. So above all, know what works for you and don’t be afraid to make changes as you learn more about yourself and the group dynamic. If you know how to make rehearsals really work for you, you really won’t need as many as you wish you had.
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5