The rock show experience is unlike any other. The stage, the lights, the amps, the crowd, the volume, and most importantly, the band. If you have ever been to a concert and felt caught up in the music and performance, you know how thrilling it can be. Have you ever considered what goes into the preparations before a show? Before the lights, before the crowd, and before the performance is the band rehearsal, an incredibly crucial step in the process of creating and performing an amazing show. If you and your band want to get the most out of your rehearsal time, School of Rock can show you how!
The first step in having a successful and productive rehearsal is to come prepared. Before rehearsal day, make sure you and your bandmates listen to, practice, and know your own parts of the songs independently. It is easy to waste time during a rehearsal trying to learn new songs as a group from scratch, so come prepared and know your parts so you can focus on the details of the song such as timing and performance. This will ensure you make the best use of your time together and have a successful band rehearsal.
SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
Know what you want to accomplish during rehearsal and make a plan to maximize the time you are all together. For example, if you have a large, multiple-hour setlist, break it down into smaller sections and work on only parts of it at a time instead of trying to perfect all of it at once. If there is a song that has been giving you and your band trouble musically, make it a priority to master it by the end of rehearsal and only then focus on the other songs. Set goals and know what songs you want fully practiced and completed during your time together to ensure a successful rehearsal.
The goal of a rehearsal is to practice and better the performance of your songs as a band, so work hard to keep out any distractions. Don’t invite or bring non-band members, friends, or family to rehearsal. Bringing in anyone outside of the band can sidetrack progress with distracting conversations or unwanted feedback and opinions during practice. Agree as a band to put your mobile devices away so you can all focus on the music and the performance. If you play an instrument, keep noodling in between songs to a minimum. While it is fun to mess around on instruments and break into spontaneous jam sessions, this can distract from practicing the setlist which in turn makes for a less productive band rehearsal.
Staying focused is essential for a successful rehearsal. Be sure to not only minimize any distractions like the examples above but be very intentional as a band to maintain your focus on the songs that need to be rehearsed. Agree as a group to keep your focus on the songs with the same goal to make them the best that they can be. If you are all on the same page and have the same end goal in mind, you will best maximize the time you spend together practicing and have a successful rehearsal.
Be sure to take time to give yourself and your bandmates a break after running through multiple songs. It is good to take breaks as getting up, taking a quick walk, getting fresh air, or even filling up your water bottle can increase your stamina and offer a nice little reset before hopping back into practice. Listening to and practicing songs with fresh ears always make for a more productive band rehearsal, so be sure to take breaks.
Make it a priority to work together! While you may have a designated band leader, be sure everyone has a voice and is heard during practice. Nobody likes working with a controlling diva who thinks their ideas are better than everyone else’s. Remember that you’re a band, not a solo act! Take advantage of the different viewpoints, ideas, and skill sets that are naturally part of a group of different musicians. Be sure to offer and accept critique from each other kindly with the end goal being the best performance possible. Be humble, respect your fellow bandmates, and prioritize teamwork to ensure a successful rehearsal.
CHECK YOUR SOUND LEVELS
Take advantage of the time and space you have during a rehearsal to check your sound levels. Make sure the amps are not too loud or too quiet, you can hear the microphones, and the drummer is not overpowering the rest of the instruments. While most venues have reserved times for last-minute soundchecks the day of the show, spend time preparing and know exactly what tone, effects, and volume you want out of your amps and instruments.
Once you have mastered the music as a group, practice “the show.” While the music is the most important aspect of the show and the majority of your time in rehearsal should be spent practicing it, allot rehearsal time to practice the delivery, or the performance, of the songs. Consider even having a separate band rehearsal for just the performance of the show. Practice the different pieces of the performance, such as where you will all stand on stage, when and where the guitarist will step forward for their solo, and what the lead singer will say in between songs. Practice the transitions between the songs to minimize awkward silence. Remember that the audience is there to not only hear, but also watch you perform the songs, and as performers, your job is to lead the crowd through the music and the performance. Practicing this after you have mastered the songs in your set will best maximize your time together and make for a successful band rehearsal.
Finally, have a good time! Music is meant to be enjoyed, so keep your time spent practicing together lighthearted and fun. While the end goal is to have the most successful rehearsal possible, don’t take yourselves too seriously. If you find you and your bandmates are frustrated and discouraged more than you are having fun playing the music, take a break and remind each other what you are all there to do. You will have a successful band rehearsal if you enjoy the music, work hard, are prepared, and have fun!
PREPARE FOR A GREAT BAND REHEARSAL
As a band, you have the incredible opportunity and potential to provide a crowd with the rock show experience. Take advantage of your time in rehearsal by following these steps to make it the most productive it can be. Some of the greatest bands of all time have made music history by having a well-rehearsed, well-performed rock show. Make the best use of your rehearsal time by being prepared, setting attainable goals, minimizing distractions, staying focused, taking breaks, working together as a team, checking your sound levels, practicing your performance, and having fun. In taking these steps you will have a productive and successful rehearsal and will in turn put on the best rock show possible.
About the Author
Daniel Olsson is an instructor at School of Rock Barrington.