Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rehearsing Your Band

Q: I have recently joined a band. The band was mostly formed when I joined and I noticed that their practice schedule is pretty lax compared to what I am used to so I suggested that we start playing every song on our list 4 times in a row, back to back, before we move to the next song, keeping any talking down to a minimum. ie. unless its about the arrangement, play it again and keep playing. This is what we did in the bands that I had when I was in my 20's and we were one of the tightest bands around. My idea was not met with much enthusiasm which I can understand so I want to ask you. Do you think that I am asking to much? Would this be over kill? I am asking you because you are a professional musician. And I want to get a second opinion. Keep in mind that we are all 40 something with jobs and lives and can really only practice once or twice a week. (usually once) What is your opinion on this.

A: Well, its sort of hard to say but let's assume you guys all play well. I would actually suggest that you run through the song once then focus on the problem areas of the song. It would seem more efficient to find the section of the song that is not tight and go over just that section several times. The solo section is pretty typical, if you can't get the solo to work out, maybe you have the band go over that section a few times. Unison parts and endings are all good examples. After doing the song once, working on the not so tight sections, you could run through the song again. It seems like a waste of time running through the whole song if you guys already have most of it down so focus on the train wrecks.

If you guys are going to do shows, you may want to run through the set the way you are going to play it a few times a day or two before you do the show. Including the mc sections so you can time it and see how the songs work one after another (you don't really need to rehearse the mc section but try to imagine the break that might last a minute). The way the keys and tempos change really make a big difference in the way a set sounds. I usually try to avoid keys going down, ie: E going to D going to C, this kind of thing mixed with slowing tempos will put your audience to sleep. I also try to avoid similar styles back to back. You need momentum in the set, divided by a cool-down song like a ballad so you can restart the momentum.

I know this has nothing to do with rehearsing but you need to pay special attention to your MC. If you are playing in bars or clubs you have to get your audience to drink and tip the barmaids and a good rap is important for this. In the end these things is what will make your band popular with the club owner. It also goes without saying that if you guys record yourselves a CD, a good sales pitch is a must.


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