My 5 Tips On How to Get the Most Out of Rehearsals
1. Have a Plan The best rehearsals I’ve been in are the ones where there’s been a plan beforehand or the MD (musical director) has come with a plan on what to do.
Let’s look at what may happen if you don’t have a plan…. You may end up using your rehearsal time to learn a song or part you need to do for an upcoming gig and if one or more of you are practising the parts there and then, that could be difficult if you’re in one room! You could end up noodling for the whole session – if you’re not sure what noodling is, check out tip number two! These reasons ultimately use up the time that could be more efficient and beneficial for everybody taking part in the rehearsal.
2. No Noodling!
One of the biggest issues with rehearsing in one room with a band of musicians is that one (or more!) of the musicians forgets that they’re not in their bedroom! Let me explain… From a musical definition, noodling is making the most of freestyle or random playing. Now, there is nothing wrong with noodling but like most things, you’ve got to put it in right context. i.e. playing your instrument by yourself, in your bedroom!
To get the most out of rehearsals, work out what your aim is for your upcoming rehearsal. If it’s to noodle, then great! (It probably won’t be the case though if you’ve got a rehearsal with others!) If it’s covering a pop track song, then come prepared to play the track. Keep focused after every run-through, chord progression or section you want to nail and get it right. Honour each other and you will definitely get the most out of rehearsal time, trying to complete the tasks you’ve set out.
3. Build a Language
If you’ve found that you’re not understanding each other in your rehearsals, it may be that you need to find some language to define certain words in your descriptions of what you’re trying to accomplish. For instance, words like vamping, looping, hits, ring-out, pedaling, build-up, swelling… All these words have meanings, and some of these words could be what you’re trying to communicate, but the other musicians don’t understand the word or you’re trying to articulate what you mean without using the right word. This is also the same when using certain signs with your hands, i.e. a clenched fist meaning end song or using a certain amount of fingers that represents which verse you’re about to play. It really helps when someone is leading the flow of the songs because when you’re not sure where you’re going next you can then practise a progression over-and-over to get perfect.
4. Be Able to Adapt
Going deeper with the skill of your instrument is very helpful in-between times of rehearsals. There may be an occasion where you’re learning a song that you’re covering and suddenly, the lead vocalist can’t sing it as well as they thought they could in that key. This is where musicians would have to adapt and play the song in a different key. Learning different chord shapes, the Nashville Number System or how a capo works, may be the things that help you get the most out of your rehearsals.
5. Get to know how other musicians play
I believe has everyone has their own unique ‘sound’ and identity when playing their instrument. This could be as simple as your MD nodding their head more enthusiastically when they want you to play louder, and they always do it! This takes time, so not necessarily a time-saver in rehearsals, but it will get the most of out of your rehearsals in terms of quality. The more I play with friends or colleagues that are musicians, the more I see a side and uniqueness to them in how they interact and operate on their instrument – which brings the music they’re playing to life!
If you can support or match each other with enthusiasm and passion in how you play, it will build the quality of your band and others will want to learn how it’s done!