So you’ve got your band together and you’ve booked a rehearsal studio, and you want to know how to have a great rehearsal with your band. At Mill Hill Music Complex, we’ve been welcoming bands for the last 35 years and we’ve picked up a few good tips to make sure your rehearsal goes smoothly and is productive. Here are a few things which you may find makes things go well.
1. Preparation. Work out the set list in advance and ask all of the musicians to learn the songs. If you are a covers band, then send the other members the details. If you are doing originals and you are the songwriter, it is worth trying to get the songs recorded and then let the rest of the band have a listen. Of course some bands like to write songs together in the studio from scratch. If this is how you write songs, then it is well worth recording the rehearsal. That way you can get the songs to the rest of the band members and they can learn them for the next session.
2. Make sure you have everything you need. If your band has a particular sound, make sure you have the equipment you need to get it. You’d be amazed at how often bands turn up at our studios and the guitarist has left his fuzz box or lead at home or the drummer has forgotten his brushes. At Mill Hill Music Complex we have a shop selling spares etc, but you don’t want to buy a new fuzz box every week.
3. If you are a singer, make sure you have some water to keep your throat lubricated. Unlike a guitar string, if you get a problem with your voice, you can’t change it. Take care of it and learn some warm up exercises.
4. Make sure that the band turn up on time. At studios, time is money. If people turn up late, they are costing the rest of the band money.
5. Don’t bring friends along to watch when you are writing new material. When you first start playing, it is tempting to invite friends down to watch. This doesn’t make rehearsals more productive. If you are working stuff out, you may play the same few bars over and over again. Friends soon tire of this and the band gets distracted. Once the set has been worked out and you are practising playing the set for a gig, having a few friends can sharpen things up. I’ve always tended to have specific rehearsals and one rule that has worked for me is that we don’t have guests when writing.
6. Don’t play over the top of when people are trying to work out songs. Some musicians seem to be allergic to being quiet in a studio. If you are trying to explain the structure of a song and someone is drowning you out, then you won’t get your point across.
7. Be considerate of your band mates when making comments about their playing. I know a couple of very talented songwriters, who have never managed to keep bands together, as they have always got impatient with their fellow musicians. This has resulted in comments being made, arguments and fall outs. As a songwriter I know how frustrating it is when people don’t play the songs properly, but it is better to explain to people what the problem is, in a pleasant way, than to simply be rude about their playing.
8. Be realisitic in your expectations for the band. If you are a bunch of seasoned semi pro musicians playing standard covers, often one or two rehearsals will be enough to get a set together. If you are just starting out and writing original material, it can take months or years to get a set together and a decent sound.
9. Work out what the band wants. Do you want to do gigs? Do you want to record songs? Do you just want to play with a few friends and chill out? Whatever you want to get out of your rehearsal, it will become difficult if different members of the band want different things. Sort out at the beginning what the band are doing.
10. Mix it up. Try things a different way. If you wrote the song, ask for input. Don’t overcomplicate the songs and try and make sure that there are strong hooks. Try and get everyone contributing to the band in every way they can. This means doing backing vocals, giving creative input and pushing each other on as musicians. Don’t “play safe” at rehearsals. Challenge yourself. If a song isn’t working, come back to it later. Don’t flog a dead horse.
Here’s a few other articles about having great rehearsals – http://howtorunaband.com/effective-band-rehearsals/ – http://www.thecavanproject.com/top-10-band-rehearsal-tips/ – it is always worth checking out what works for other bands. Most of all though, enjoy !!