How do you make band rehearsal productive?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Jean Rodriguez, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. Hello, everyone. So, I formed a band with a guitarist/singer and drummer from my university three weeks ago and we are hoping to play our first show by November or December. The guitarist/singer and I take care of the composing having composed three songs since we got together for the first time and are also picking out cover songs to mix with the originals and make a setlist. Rehearsals are at my house on Saturdays and they usually last about four hours. The drummer lives about an hour away and the last rehearsal that we had was not a productive one. We jammed about two cover songs, a jazz standard and the singer showed us one of his songs. What would you guys do to make the rehearsal time more productive? The singer lives about 10 minutes away from me so it's not a hassle for him to get to my house. But, with the drummer lives an hour or hour and a half away (everything in Puerto Rico is usually a short drive away so having something be an hour or more away is considered to be a bit far) I don't want his trip to be for nothing. I was thinking that the singer and I can get together on Fridays since he doesn't have class that day and I get out on 11:20am and we can handle composing. On Saturdays, we can all get together and we teach the drummer the song so he can add a drum beat.

    One other thing that I wanted to run by you guys. I've heard from a few musician friends of mine that when you're starting out, the setlist is comprised of at least two original songs and the rest are covers that go with the vibe in which you compose and as you progress and write more and more originals, you replace the covers songs with them. Is this true or have you guys used a different method or approach?
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    1. Establish an agenda ahead of time so everyone can do their homework

    2. Stick to the agenda; no "jamming"

    3. ???

    4. Profit!
  3. Seems legit. I will follow this step by step plan all the to the "???" part and everything!
    elgecko likes this.
  4. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    Don't forget to record yourselves so you can see if you sound better after a few months
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Few thoughts, as I really hate unproductive practices...
    • As you already mentioned, DEFINITELY get together with the guitarist first to iron out as much as you can. The most prolific band I was ever in was The Nerve, and we used to get together at least one night every week (me and the guitarist/singer) to work on material without the drummer.
    • I wouldn't ditch the jamming, but keep it as a quick warmup. Maybe 15-20 minutes just jamming in a chosen key. I'm certain that jamming makes for a much tighter and more creative band.
    • Learn covers on your own time, and make sure you learn them inside out. There is no reason to waste time in the studio figuring tunes out. Do whatever you need to do to get the other guys to do their homework.
    • Decide before the rehearsal what you plan to accomplish.
    • Know, and agree, that you're in the studio to work and not hang out. Some people make a party out of rehearsals, and that's fine if everyone is in agreement... but if you want to get the most accomplished, to me that means it's the band only in the studio, and nobody is drinking or getting high.
    RE the cover stuff, the only rules with that have to do with the bars/clubs in your area. Where I am, an original band generally does all original music. If they throw a covers in it's usually one or two tops. If you're looking to make money, then it's best to play mostly covers and throw a few of your own tunes in with that. For most cover gigs though you need a minimum of 35 tunes.

    All that being said I'm heading out for a little 4 day tour today with an original band that's going to be doing half covers and half originals. I think this is the only band I ever played in (and I've played in lots and lots) that does that, and it's working well. Hence the no rules thing :).

    Best of luck!
  6. crguti


    Feb 14, 2011
    I would fire the drummer.
    Bodeanly, Sixgunn, LUCENZO and 7 others like this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Pretty much all of this.....except I'm not touring with @Joe Nerve for four days.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i'm not sure about any 'rules' re: number of originals to covers, but IMO: your general thinking/process is correct: learn covers to get gigs/exposure and be able to perform while building up the originals list --- replacing the covers with originals as your own tunes are developed.

    (FWIW: even in all original bands i've always maintained that doing a few covers (our way) allows the audiences to 'get closer' to our original vibe by letting them in on our stylistic approaches. also: a good, well placed cover can help the show 'breathe' a little!)

    your goals are ambitious, but your approach seems rational! :thumbsup: Joe Nerve 's advice is good stuff, IMO. good luck with your band!
    Joe Nerve likes this.
  9. If you and the singer get together without the drummer, record the session. Send him the recordings (Dropbox, etc) so he can get up to speed sooner. Doesn't have to be a fancy recording just something to help him. With a long drive, just listening to the new material could be beneficial.

    Cover songs should be learned on your own.

    +1 on setting an agenda and sticking to it.

    It's also really helpful to have a "big picture" plan. If you're wandering aimlessly the odds are against getting where you're going.
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  10. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    You need to plan out ahead of time what everyone is going to be working on. Rehearsal should be the time when songs come together, not when people learn their individual parts. If you guys wanna hang out and talk about stuff, make it a 3 hour rehearsal with 1 hour of hanging out. I've had one hour rehearsals that were more productive than three hour rehearsals. Set a schedule and stick to it.
  11. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Have a plan. Set the plan for the next rehearsal before you leave from the current one. In the plan, include what you hope to accomplish in terms of specific songs. Make sure that everybody understands what the plan is so that they can be ready for the next rehearsal.

    Leave some "fun time" for jamming.
    DrummerwStrings likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    + 1. He lives far away anyway.
  13. twoby15


    Sep 11, 2016
    Record every practice. Quality doesn't have to be great. Distribute to everyone a few days after. Use this to guide what to improve and where to put your effort.
    lz4005 and BuckN4k3d like this.
  14. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    have a plan

    everyone should be prepared ... or rehearsal is cancelled .. !!

    control the ' playing/fooling around time ' ... some or a little is good , but to much just wastes time .. !

    some one has to ' take charge ' to keep things moving forward ... !
    Ellery likes this.
  15. Keep extraneous talk to a minimum. In a couple of bands I'm in we'll rehearse and between songs the drummer and guitar player will chat for a long time about something completely unrelated to the music like their cars or pets or whatever. It's really annoying to me and I feel it wastes a lot of time. Of course, do talk about things that need to be done musically.
    lermgalieu, pjbassist and Ellery like this.
  16. franklindayala


    Feb 8, 2015
    My recommendation would be to record a home track with metronome (guitar, bass and vocals) and give this to the drummer so he can practice in his time. And vise versa. Let the drummer record also and hand it over to you guys so you can do the same.

    Suerte con tu proyecto musical.
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  17. In general, I found it best to tell the guitarist he can sit this one out.
    Raman likes this.
  18. Raman


    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    A few general tips I've gathered from being in different bands and being in a pro choral. (Some have been mentioned already by others.)

    -Everybody needs to rehearse their parts on their own until they can play them in their sleep BEFORE rehearsing together.
    -Once together, don't "jam", but rehearse. I.e. don't aim to have fun first and foremost but to make the songs tight. (And that means no booze, unless everybody are very light drinkers.)
    -Repeat, repeat, repeat: Beyond being bored of the song. Just like the "playing in your sleep" part above, you'll need to play those songs until someone can shout "Song x, bridge part!" and the whole band can spontaneously play it.
    -Don't always play the whole songs through. Play them by sections with, of course, special attention to the parts that don't quite sound like you want or that everybody is not totally comfortable with.
    -Play the songs slower and faster than their actual tempo (that's a useful cognitive trick both for individual and band practice btw).
    -Don't hesitate to rehearse with only sections of the band. The obvious is rhythmic section rehearsals vs melodic section. But you can also go crazy and, when the occasion is there, have for example the singer and drummer rehearse together. This can help tighten musical bonds across the band.
    -Recording is also a nice tool. You're not objective when you are listening to yourself live. You're a little less subjective when listening to a recording, especially after a few days. It's also essential in order to gauge the overall sound, harmonies, etc.

    Hope it helps!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
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  19. bearhart74

    bearhart74 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    I would only add write stuff down before everyone leaves.

    When you decide on an arrangement change, key change, song list change etc....

    That way you stay on the same page when your not together
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  20. Josh Kneisel

    Josh Kneisel

    Jun 17, 2016
    Best advice I can think of is to make it a requirement that everyone do their best to learn their music before rehearsal, and at rehearsal have a schedule of what is going to be worked on each time and stick to it. IMHO rehearsal should be for fine tuning and arranging as a band for the most part. For example: If your set is going to be an hr run that set and take a break then come back and work on anything that has issues for an hr then break then run the set again then break etc. Just an example.
    kikstand454 likes this.