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Band practice efficiency

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Obe, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. Obe


    May 15, 2005
    Springfield MA area
    I thought I would tap into the collective knowledge to get some ideas on making band practice more productive. Our practice time is getting scarce so any ideas would be appreciated!! :hyper:

    For the past number of bands, this method seems to work:

    Three lists of songs.
    List 1 = songs that we know well.
    List 2 = songs that we are working on and somewhat know.
    List 3 = brand new songs.

    We'll play about 10 songs from List 1 to warm up, and the next practice, play a different set of 10 songs, and so on until we've done all the songs on the list, then we start over. This eliminates only playing the fun songs and not doing the ones we don't like as much, and makes it so that we've played all songs within the past few weeks.

    Next, on to List 2. We'll work on these songs, and they will go on List 1 when we've conquered them. We'll take notes on what each individual or the entire band needs to do for the songs that remain on List 2.

    Then, on to List 3. We only have a max of 8 songs on this list so it doesn't get unruly like it has in the past (1 or 2 chosen by each band member so everybody gets a say in what songs are played). Also, we have a specific order that we are going to learn them in, so we all don't work on different songs. Then the songs go on List 2. When this list is almost complete, we pick another group of songs.

    We'll each work on as much as we can on our own, we'll discuss who needs the recordings, how we want to end the song if it fades out, who does what background vocals, any differences in the way we want to play it from the original, how long the solos will be, how we will take care of keyboard and horn parts since we only have guitars, etc.

    Sorry for the length :eek: Anything else anybody does that works?
  2. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    After rehearsal take a half hour and put together a summary of decisions made from rehearsal as well as an itinerary for the next one.

    What songs will be tackled should be decided at rehearsal as a group decision. However as some folks have the retention of a tsetse fly it's best to be able to give them something they can reference.

    Email that out to the band. Get sneaky and ask a question at the beginning so they have to respond and thusly admit that they've received the email.

    When they know the expectations for the next meet there's no excuses aside from their own situations that can come up and get in the way.
  3. Obe


    May 15, 2005
    Springfield MA area
    Wow, quick response!! The email thing is a great idea, I know I sometimes have the memory of a tsetse fly or worse and need something in writing for reference. Other times I have the memory of a toad.
    I also just thought of something, posting the song lists as a website so nobody loses them.
  4. Obe- My 60's cover band has three teachers. Every rehearsal comes with a 'lesson plan' for each new song....words and chrods on a single sheet of paper. We can generally knock out 6-8 of these in a two hour rehearsal. Of course, we're all familiar with the songs after hearing them on the radio for the last 40 years!
    The chuch band I play in does the same thing. There's sheet music or chord charts for every song that we're going to play. Makes rehearsal a breeze.
    I've been in other bands where no one wants to write anything down. Drives me crazy. My song inventory is greatly expanded when I've got a chord sheet in front of me and I've heard the song a few times.
  5. ilikethump


    Jun 17, 2008
    I'm in an original band with a pretty solid set list. We meet two to three times a week for about 3 - 4 hours a practice session. Practice schedule is as follows:

    Monday - First half is dedicated towards running through the setlist and the songs that we have completely mastered. The second half is dedicated towards adding polish to songs that are still being formed.

    Thursday - This is the more fun practice, where we either continue fleshing out some new song ideas or one person brings in a riff / song that they've written at home and everyone writes new material for it. We have the entire thing recorded to remember what was played and written and burned on a CD to listen to later. (yes, it makes it very obvious when you say something stupid >_<). Once a song is fully mastered here we move it to the Monday setlist.

    Sunday - This is a pure laid back song writing session. Not everyone is required to attend (this can be kinda boring for the singer and the drummer when the guitarist and the bassist are pretty much just trying to figure out song structure), but this is where songs are first born.
  6. standupright


    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    the current group i play in, we rehearse once a week for about 3 hours. we have a list of about 100 or so tunes that we have down solid. and the way it works is this. everyone in the band is responsible for practicing on their own time. reheasal is not the time to practice what you don't know. we play the begginings and endings of the tunes and that's it. nothing all the way through, and definitely no solos.

    with exception when we are composing a new tune. this has been the absolute most effective use of our time.
  7. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    How fortunate that this thread should come up now as its something that the the two band's I'm in are grappling with. Due to job requirements certain band members can only really commit to getting together twice per month. One of our band mates has come up with a suggestion which I think has a great deal of merrit and one we plan to try.

    In the above senario you are spending approximately 30 minutes of your rehearsal time re-hashing songs you already know. The reason is that if you don't play them (at least some) they'll end up back on one of the other list. Our solution to minimizing the need to do this is to make a practice CD of all our 'done' tunes. We will record all our songs and each band member will get a CD of them. Its our hope that doing so would allow band members to refresh their memories regarding arrangements, harmonies, etc. without having to use up band rehearsal time by constantly running thru tunes that are done.

    P.S. One could do this w/ the records but that doesn't allow for key changes or help with arrangements. One of my two bands plays pretty much everything in the original key and tends to follow record arrangements so that is the approach we are doing in that band.
  8. Dogsferatu


    May 22, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I currently backup a singer/songwriter, so they are his rehearsals, but on more often than not I end up organizing the rehearsal time. Even to the point where I will direct him and the guitarist to set up time to go over their parts on different days then bring in the drummer and I to complete the songs. I usually give them a week with one - two workshops days getting the structure of the songs. I end the week with a "stage" rehearsal at a local venue where we do the show in one run through
  9. xbrandonx


    Sep 27, 2008
    Sounds to me like some of the songs on list 1 needs to be purged if they're not fun for you all to play anymore.
  10. That's how my band does it. I send them a list and/or a recording of the tune(s) that closest fits the direction I plan to take it. Then, I make sure they all have charts on rehearsal night. If the tune has some crazy changes, we will run over the solos.

    If it's an original tune, I write the chart in Finale, save it as an mp3 and email it to them before the rehearsal.

    As far as the tunes we know...that's what the gigs are for. I have a master list of the tunes we do and everyone has a copy. Any of the tunes on that list are game at any gig. :bassist:
  11. Obe


    May 15, 2005
    Springfield MA area
    Oh yeah, left that out on the original post for simplification, we definitely do some purging!! What I was getting at is there are some that are still fun but not as fun as our favorites, and without a list we tend to put off practicing those.
  12. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    As far as I'm concerned thats 'assumed'. However, Mp3s etc. may still require some transcriptions if the vocalist requires a key change.
  13. cabrego

    cabrego Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    By trio cover band plays every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. On Wed we decide what songs we will learn for the next week. On Saturday I give the guys a copy of the songs. On Wed we break out the new songs. If you can't play along with the cd you surely are not ready to try it with the band. We've taken out some pretty decent songs this way and have been successful doing it. We actually nailed songs like The Kill, Face Down, 46 & 2, Girls not Grey, and Head Like a Hole at our shows on the first try. We have about 86 songs right now and we have only been together for 8 weeks. As long as everyone has the same version of the song and plays it in the same key we don't have to worry about it. We also all sing lead.
  14. lowb1970


    Feb 29, 2004
    Columbia SC
    Hey Obe, another option which I haven't seen up here yet is to buy a whiteboard that is big enough for you to have the columns you need (in your case 3, 1 for each list). Have the songs on this board at all times and put a mark next to the ones the band will run through that night.....kinda like school. This board will stay at the location of your rehearsal area. Emails can later be sent out as already mentioned to reinforce the agenda for the next rehearsal. Our band did this and it worked pretty good for a long time. We got a lot of tunes learned in a very quick time. Hope this works for you guys.
  15. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
  16. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Show up late, by at least 15 minutes.

    Crank the volume on your amps.

    Just call out random songs, you know, the rest of the band doesnt know what theyre called anyways.

    Never teach the guitar riff to the bassist.

    Have overall bad EQ.

    Proceed to cut open your hand on your gibson SG at the end of the last song practiced.

    Oh I almost forgot... get mad at the hot chick singer that you have a crush on because she was late and proceed to take her outside, away from the band, to let her know youre upset.
  17. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    There's a little place in hell for singers that show up and announce that they require a key change on the night of a rehearsal....
  18. #1 - It's called "rehearsal" if the whole band is involved. Practice is what you do by yourself. That may sound useless until you consider that if you don't practice, you're wasting other people's time in rehearsal. So call it what it is... rehearsal.

    #2 - be organized and have an agenda for every rehearsal. Make sure everyone knows the agenda [x] days before so they can practice.

    #3 - stick to the agenda

    #4 - RECORD EVERYTHING and listen to it religiously. You cannot, I repeat, cannot know how you sounded just by remembering. Your mood, what you ate, your position in the room, the fact that you have to think about your part and cannot really listen to the band as a whole - all this prevents you from really knowing how you sound. Listening to the playback, however, doesn't lie. You'll here moments that you didn't realized sounded as good as they did. You'll hear moments you were convinced sounded great that didn't.

    Recap: Rehearsal = band time; Practice = your time; Agenda; Clear, simple and consistent communication; RECORD EVERYTHING!
  19. Andy419


    Aug 13, 2007
    That is a really good idea. I think I'm gonna apply something like that to my band.
  20. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo

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