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Band schedule issues

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassGen, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. BassGen


    Mar 15, 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    We're a "hobby" band. Let's be clear about that first. We all like what we do and have fun doing it but nobody is trying to make a living.

    I don't even know how to search this so sorry if I'm rehashing an existing thread (or 1,000 of them).

    Here is the frustration. We would like to play a decent bar show a few times a year. But to be honest we can't get together to rehearse frequently enough where I would be comfortable taking it out public.

    Our drummer is working a lot of overtime in the week and can only play on weekends. My kid plays hockey so on weekends I have varying availability. One of our gui****s has conflicts at times. The singer just won't change her schedule to suit anyone (though she sure as hell assumes I will).

    How have other bands solved scheduling issues so you can rehearse on a regular basis and actually build a set that you can go play and be proud of it when you do?
  2. ustabawannab

    ustabawannab Caesar's palace, morning glory, silly human race. Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    Greenfield, WI.
    We had a similar problem so we setup a GMAIL account for the band. We each put our dates of availability for gigging and rehearsing down for six months. We also put in no-book dates in case a last minute gig came up, we knew whether everyone could make it or not.

    If after looking over the calendar you discover that your dates don't line up, time to get new players.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    OK, here's the bottom line: Being in a band - a functioning band that actually gigs from time to time - requires a certain degree of sacrifice & commitment from each member of the band. Even a hobbyist band that performs no more than a few times a year.

    If the members are prepared to make sufficient time for personal practice time, rehearsals & performances, then it can work. Otherwise it most assuredly will not - in fact, it cannot. :eyebrow:

    There's no quick fix to this problem. No item of information technology that can magically find time where the players had not been willing to give it.

    If the band is important enough to everybody, they will make the time, believe me. Sorry. That's all there is to say... :meh:

  4. Sorry if she is a friend of yours and im saying this but the singers a first problem if she really wont change her schedule to help but assumes everyone else will change their schedules to suit her.

    The GMAIL account sounds like a good idea.
    A possible replacement singer who is willing to change their schedule to help if the current one doesn't get the cactus unlodged from her backside is another, (Ten points for whoever gets the reference, driving license points that is:ninja:)
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    All true.

    Still, OP, you guys DO manage to all get in the same room from time to time, right? How much rehearsal do you actually need? As MM implies in his post, personal practice between rehearsals for each of you is at least equally important. A willingness by all to do this, combined with some effective decision making about performance matters, good use of technology (for example, for sending charts/mp3s to each other), efficient organisation and clear communications can really minimise the need for whole band rehearsals (whilst not removing it entirely).

    Start by asking questions like this:
    Do we have enough material to play a gig or a set at an event any time soon?
    How much of the material is "gig ready"?
    Do we have a clear structure for each tune, including start and finish points, position and length of solos, et cetera?
    Is our system for cues and on stage communication clearly understood by all of us?
    Where are the segues/breaks in the set? What needs to happen at these points?
    Who does or does not know the tunes well enough? (Obviously pretty crucial!)
    Does everybody have the info and material they need to effectively prepare their own performance for the gig before a meet-up?
    Where in the set could things go badly wrong? How can we make sure they don't?
    Can any benefit be had from members of the band meeting up in twos or threes to practice, in lieu of a full rehearsal at some point? I'm talking about vocal rehearsals here, drum and bass get togethers, and so on.

    Use this to generate some sort of action plan of what needs to happen. Very often, much can be achieved "at a distance" like this and in fact a rehearsal can actually be counter-productive if you're not all really ready for it. Getting together regularly as clockwork twice a week for "rehearsal" can be a total waste of effort in some bands if their preparation is weak and time is used poorly - I know, I've been there.

    One approach is to go through your whole set, one song at a time, and have a whole band email discussion for each tune: "Okay, guys, the opening number 'Rocks Off Ontario'. Could we play it live and tight in public tomorrow? If not why not? Honest, detailed (where necessary) comments please. Can everybody please respond by -----, even if it's just to say that it's fine and no work's needed from your point of view. Frank, have you decided with Sam on where you will/won't be taking the backing vocals? Dave - do you remember how we decided to change the chords for the bridge? Get in touch, people, thanks." Et cetera... somebody (you?) needs to lead on this. Skype and other technological marvels can be fantastically useful during this process, although as MM says, none of them will magically create any extra time for you.

    There's absolutely no way to get around the commitment required by each member that MM mentions in the post I quoted, but being creative about how that's gets utilised in order to get the band ready to gig is what I'm talking about here. I've been able to play some really tight gigs with absolutely minimal (even zero) whole band rehearsals when people on the gig have been good at working this way.

    (Inflexibility of band members or unwillingness to commit the time to get gig ready are separate issues, and usually insoluble ones in my experience.)
  6. BassGen


    Mar 15, 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Very good advice so far gentlemen. Appreciate the comments. Singer is not a personal friend of mine but she is a very close friend of our lead guitarist and both are very good at what they do (Should point out that lead guitar is also not an issue as she is also one who is willing to work with the others schedule). They've known each other for years.

    The individual practice time is not an issue for most but again, singer is the one who falls down on this. What we need is steady and regular weekly times to work on making the songs sound good on stage. Beginning together, ending together and hitting any rests in a song at the same time. We also need to work on transition from one song to another in a smooth and ready fashion.

    First time we ever played a show the breaks between songs were painful. I realized it as did others but I was the one driving the point that we had to be ready when we finished one song to roll into the next while we had people's interest. (Should say that singer is not bad at filling the gaps when someone needs to retune, etc.).

    Maybe the gmail account with calender will work. Communication seems to be an issue. We are in fact rehearsing this morning at 10 but that was not locked in until quite late last night.
  7. I've been in this situation quite a few times. People are often very enthusiastic about playing in a band but very unrealistic about how much time they have available.
  8. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    As has been said, a commitment by all the band members is required or it doesn't work. The problem with many hobby bands is the varying levels of commitment from the members. If one person is continually missing rehearsal or not showing up prepared, then the entire band is affected.

    We are a hobby band and we pick one week day that we all promise to keep available for rehearsals. The night changes from time to time due to family commitments, but most people are able to "save" one day a week for the band. It's no different than "Tuesday night is my bowling night".

    Right now we rehearse on Wednesdays, so all the band members know in advance not to schedule other things on Wednesday, unless it can't be avoided. Things come up that are beyond your control, like your kid's school concert for example, but if everyone is on board with not scheduling the "voluntary" events on band night it works out in the long run. Last minute cancellations are rare, but a few rehearsals inevitably are cancelled. We usually end up rehearsing about 7 of every 10 scheduled band nights, which isn't bad considering that 3 of the 4 band members have school age children.
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Very good points. Efficient and productive planning, organization and communication are frequently overlooked, yet essential aspects of the entire preparation process - which includes, but is not limited to, personal practice & group rehearsals.

    Knowing how to effectively develop and prepare material with a band context - and at a pace that marks real progress and real momentum - very often makes the difference between a band that thrives and succeeds...and one that falters and fails. :meh:

  10. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    +1 I admit, I don't get the whole hobby band thing.

    I would put giging on the back burner until you have more time or when your ready to sacrifice.

    I always put music first and family second. Granted I have been divorced twice but my rule still stands.
  11. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I can relate! I'm currently in a band that has potential to be good, but one guitarist hasn't figured out that he doesn't have time to be in a band (he cancels rehearsals regularly, and we pretty much have to schedule everything around his life), and the other guitarist just doesn't seem to care. We have been together for a year and practice maybe 2 times a month for 90 minutes at each rehearsal. The band has played out a grand total of 4 times, and frankly, I've been embarrassed by all of our performances. The drummer and I have nagged the guitarists to no end about our lack of preparation, but nothing has changed.

    We have 2 shows booked within the next 2 weeks and are totally unprepared, but the guitarists don't seem very concerned. Our band is completely lacking the structure, organization, motivation, and commitment that both the drummer and I need.

    This week, it all came to a head. First, the guitarist with no spare time learned that I have been looking for other people to jam with (I called someone who knows him, though I was initially unaware of this), and he told me he was not going to book around "other bands' gigs". He implied that either I play with his band alone or I'm out.

    Second, the drummer told me that he has been auditioning for other bands, a fact which our guitarists are currently unaware of. Then a couple days ago, he told me that he got a call from a guitarist who we both know is strongly committed to making a band work. This guy is an excellent songwriter and I have been wanting to play with him for a long time now. They are going to form a new band and want me in it. I said yes immediately. He and I have decided that we will quit as soon as our second gig is over. I know the guitarists will badmouth us to anyone who will listen, but at this point I don't care. Enough is enough.

    At the moment, neither of the guitarists are aware of our plans. I don't see things going well when we drop the bomb on them, but oh well. We both have stuck around hoping that things would change, but it hasn't happened. At least I can say it's been a learning experience. The bottom line is don't commit to a band if you don't have time because it will eventually come back to bite you in the rear.
  12. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    BBox Bass: Unless you or the drummer desperately need the money from the two upcoming gigs, I'd advise to tell the gui****s ASAP that you'll play those two gigs, but then you're quitting. Otherwise, they may keep booking more gigs until there's a conflict with your new band.
  13. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    We considered it, except that thanks to prior experience I know how they will react. They'll throw a collective tantrum and make our lives miserable for the next 2 weeks. This happened a few years ago when our previous drummer quit and the "I don't care" gui**** flipped out refused to play our last 2 gigs, leaving the overscheduled gui**** and me to hire a fill-in at the last minute.

    If they try to book anything new the current drummer plans on telling them that because his work schedule is uncertain (which is partially true at this time of year), he can't commit to anything in the near future. If that doesn't work, then I suppose we will have to tell them and suck it up.
  14. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    It's situations like this that show up how the more abstract (but still very real) elements of professionalism are what amateurs generally lack. You're better off away from these drama queens. I hope the new band works out well for you guys.
  15. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    An entire year? No way could I hang with such a dysfunctional situation anywhere near that long. I would have given it three months. :meh:

    Since you and the drummer will soon be leaving anyway, why does it matter whether your gui**** will throw a hissy fit and try to cancel your last two gigs? Isn't that a good enough reason to bail out of that toxic environment sooner rather than later? Especially since you guys are so unprepared anyway? Wouldn't it be worthwhile, just to spare yourselves further embarrassment?

    Why allow these dopes to exercise such control over you? Aren't you continuing to exhibit the same co-dependent enabling behavior that got you into this mess in the first place? What's the point? :eyebrow:

  16. Well said, Michael!

    I play in a company band that does about 8-10 shows per year, usually benefits, charity or military families. We struggle with schedules at times, but will always rally for needed practice. We have had some turnover of late, so we have to re-construct ourselves.

    We always are doing covers so we usually share YouTube links to serve as "song form masters" so that when we do show up together it is to mainly practice the starts, breaks and endings. We practice at low volume pretty effectively as a result and do a quick run through of the wobblier ones at sound check.

    The unifying force is the commitment to the causes.:bassist:
  17. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I know I can be impatient sometimes, so I told myself to not jump the gun in the hopes that it would get better. It did for awhile, and then it got worse again. Lesson learned.

    As for the cancellation issue, I live in a very small town with a struggling live music scene. Whenever a band cancels a booking so close to the date of a show, club owners tend to be leery of later hiring new bands formed by the members of the band that flaked out.

    That aside, my band's gui****s have big mouths and know a lot of people in the music scene. I have no doubt they will talk a lot of smack about the drummer and me to anyone who will listen, including the club owners. I want to end things on as good terms as possible, or at the least, not give them any extra ammunition.
  18. A lot of emails fly between us and we never ever practice together. I do not see them till the night of the show. We all decide on a new song and all learn the same version from say YouTube. Once everyone has their part down we add it to the set list and perform it live in front of the crowd flying by the seat of our pants you might say, but it keeps it exciting and all of my band mates are pros so when they learn their parts the timing is on the $ and when will say to the crowd this is a new one it will be the first time we have ever performed it together.

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