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How to practice ?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by WildGrass210, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. WildGrass210


    Apr 3, 2013

    I was recently put in charge of my band and need to know what are some things ,I as the leader ,should be doing , and what should I not do ??
  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Make sure the band knows what they need to know to be better. Be nice, they might quit.
  3. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Make sure the band has gigs.

  4. ThirstyMonkey


    Jun 27, 2011
    My $0.02:

    I make a mental distinction between practice and rehearsal. Practice is what I do at home getting ready for rehearsal. Rehearsal is where all us in the band get together to work on the songs. By the time of rehearsal, each member should be able to play there part and we spend the time working on making the songs work for the group.

    To make sure we're ready for rehearsal, we chart/block out the song and send links to a version of the song we're trying to emulate (I'm in a cover band).

    At rehearsal I pay attention to what everyone is playing and will make suggestions as to how we can improve the arrangement to make it work better for our group. This is where you have to be delicate. Now matter how laid back a musician is, no one likes to be told they're not playing something correctly. So, for example, if the drummer is always flubbing a certain fill I might say something like: "Hey Bill, I'm having a hard time nailing the groove on my bass part. Can you simplify your drums so I can lock it in."
  5. jason weatherby

    jason weatherby

    Aug 30, 2012
    ThirstyMonkey: +1
  6. 45acp


    Feb 5, 2013
    Texarkana TX
    Originals or bar cover band?
  7. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    It's not one size fits all. As a BL what I would want is a clear idea of what we're working on at rehearsal, and playing for a show......that's about it.

    Also make sure you know the songs yourself......well. I guess I'm assuming coverband here.

    Whatever you do, don't say "we're going to work on this or that and then not follow through". Be a person of your word.
  8. This times 1,000. My current project's BL has a habit of pulling out charts at rehearsals that none of us have seen before. We spend WAY too much time listening to the tracks and working out lines; stuff we could all be doing on our own in preparation.
  9. I am the music director for my band. Not to be confused with a band leader, though.

    The biggest challenge I have faced is keeping people's attention and getting them to focus on the work that has to be done. We are a cover band, our focus is not necessarily "growing" as musicians, but playing for pay and being marketable.

    Here is my formula, it may or may not work for you.

    1. Be organized. Have a binder set up with hard copies of all your music sheets, whether they be charts, tabs, lyric sheets, whatever. Put them in order the way you would play them during an actual show. Urge the others to do the same. Be sure everyone has the same basic information to avoid confusion, especially if you are tackling some new songs.

    2. Know the songs inside and out. It will be on you to pick out the parts that work, and the parts that don't. It doesn't mean you have to know how to play the guitar solo, but you need to be able to hear what's going on and identify problem areas. For most, this means listening to the recordings quite a few times. If you are an originals band, then this may not work and you will have to defer to memory or any written music you have put together.

    3. I create an itinerary for every practice. It includes start time, end time, when breaks are, and what material will be covered. I follow the itinerary when I direct practices. Again, organization is key to a successful practice in my mind.

    **Actually this would be #4 but I though of it after. Start each practice by setting the sound level for each player. I start with the drummer, then the bass, then each individual guitar, and finally the singer. Be cautious of the volume wars and stress to each person that volume levels should be controlled. Really loud practices are bad and often cover up all the mistakes that you could hear more clearly with less noise.

    4. Noodling. Noodling destroys practices. It drives me nuts. Keep the noodling around under control, sometimes you just have to tell people to stop the destruction. When the band breaks out into an unexpected "jam" it goes awry quickly.

    5. Set aside some time at the end of the practice for noodling and jamming. I usually keep the last 15 minutes for "fun time" where everyone can try stuff out, relax, or play songs that aren't on our setlist. We also use this time as a BS session to go over the practice and what everyone thinks was good, bad, or needs improvement.

    6. Be wary of the musician who constantly wants to introduce new songs every week without learning the old ones. Remind the group why you are there and keep the focus on what the band is trying to accomplish.

    7. Do not run song to song without giving the musicians a chance to make changes they need to. As bass players, we don't often change guitars, settings, effects, or other things but guitarists and keyboard players do quite often. Give them a minute or two to be ready for the next song. Frustrating and wastes time if you have to start a song a few times because the player isn't dialed in right.

    8. Have an agreed way that you start songs. Does the drummer count you in? Does the singer give the nod? Establishing how you all know to start is important. It's really frustrating in practice when nobody knows when to start and 4 guys all start a song at different times or have to play catch-up with the others. Stick to whatever your count-in is.

    9. Did I mention be organized?

    10. Show up earlier than the others. This gives you a chance to get set up with your stuff and perform a preemptive strike on the jam session you may have to break up if you arrive last.

    11. If it has been decided that you will direct practices, then be prepared to do it. If you've been asked to organize and lead, then do it. It's work, and not always fun, but someone should do it.

    12. Be respectful of your fellow players and address any issues in a mature manner. No attitude, no screaming, no threatening. Just be cool. Be prepared to jump in and quell an argument if others aren't as cool-headed. Be the voice of reason when needed. But in the end, give each person the respect they deserve.

    This is the framework for what I do. Not everyone will like it, but I tend to be very regimented in my practice management. Luckily I have like-minded fellow musicians who enjoy the organization and regimentation the way I do.

    Good Luck!!!

  10. WildGrass210


    Apr 3, 2013
    I have a lot of work to do , but it's gonna be fun !
  11. If it’s a cover band ~ In A Nutshell ~

    1. Put together a song list (start with 10 songs)
    2. Get MP3’s of all 10 songs
    3. Get charts for all 10 songs
    4. Put the song in the order that they’re going to be preformed.
    5. Give all the band members a copy of the song list with the MP3 files and song charts in the order that they’re to be preformed
    6. Tell the band members to go learn the songs (you to) practice until you’re ready for rehearsal
    7. Rehearse the songs with the band until the performance is perfected
    8. Make a demo
    9. Promote
    10. Book the Band
  12. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    @Baystatebass: If I was being taskmastered by you I'd be out of that band like a cut cat. I guess that's why I'll always be a weekender and never make any dough.

  13. Yeah, that's why I stated it works for us but wouldn't be for everyone and not everyone would enjoy that setting. We had a guitarist once who didn't like the regimentation so he moved on. No hard feelings, it just wasn't his scene.

    @Joe Louvar-

    The only thing I'm hesitant to agree on is supplying charts. I tried that once and found that if my charts were off or the others couldn't understand them, they were quick to lay blame if something didn't sound right to them. It became frustrating. And I found each person likes their charts put together a different way.

    MP3's are still sent out, but each person is responsible for making their own charts/sheets.

    The rest.....yup.
  14. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    I agree with what I've seen posted so far.

    ...but these are the big three for me:

    #1) Understand practice verses rehearsal. Practice is on your own time, rehearsal is on band time, which is far harder to organize so do NOT waste it.

    #2) Develop a set schedule. By this I mean not only which day of the week, but also a set time. For example Wednesdays, from 7pm to 8, or pm. Do not waste all day Saturday goofing off. If you're only going to be there for a set amount of time, it makes it much harder to brush off somebody being late and everyone will know that.

    #3) Set a goal for the rehearsal. Are you going to be working on a new song, going through the set (stamina check), or whatever. Also along with this, one band I was in started timing our set up and tear down times. We ended up being able to set up and tear down faster than most of the other bands we played with even though we had more gear.

    Anyway good luck with your new "tasking"
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    + 1 to enforcing the difference between individual practice vs group rehearsal.

    all the advice above is good but i'll add this:

    good bands practice playing the music
    great bands practice *performing* the music.

    The whole issue of "practicing performance" vs "being authentic" is can of worms for many

    ...but just know that performance, staging, and stage presence are in fact something you can work on and improve at band rehearsal, if you choose.
  16. Like any type of management thing, being organized is the key to being successful. No matter how you do it, know what you are going to do ahead of time.

    The biggest mistake is showing up and going, "Hmmm. What should we do? Let me think about this. Well, we could do this....or maybe that....hmmmm.....let me see...."

    Oh, one other thing.......and I recently started doing this and it works.....

    Start off your practice with one or two "warm up songs" from your setlist. Pick a couple songs that your band plays well and likes, and begin with these. It sets the mood for the practice and starts things off on a positive note.

    In the past, I was one to start off by working on stuff that was challenging immediately, sometimes starting things off on a sour note. The drummer recommended we start off with some of our better songs to get into it, and his suggestion was spot on.

    Good luck!!!
  17. That makes since - however, I like simple chord charts that are close enough (ballpark) accompanied with MP3 files because it really speeds up learning a lot of songs - expressly if youÂ’re subbing, etc.
  18. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I'm a big believer in this also.
  19. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    That's what hobbyists do. I practice the stuff on my own time, wait around at rehearsal while everyone else gets up to speed.

    Once in a great while, hearing the song(s) on a different sound system I hear a few nuances I may have missed but, everyone else is playing w/the recording, cramming.

    To think I could'a been at home watchin' TV or sumpthin'.
  20. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    This is key for us as well. Late winter every year, we do a "boot camp" (6 - 8 consecutive 3-day weekends of rehearsal. We run the entire show/set list start to finish 3 to 4 times daily).

    When it's all said & done, the arrangements should be second nature and the band should be humming like a well oiled machine.

    As baystate said, probably not for everyone, but it works for us.

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