How to rehearse an R&B, Soul, Funk Cover Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Chaddycakes, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. Hey, guys. I'm a long-time sideman (mostly jazz), first-time bandleader. I was wondering how you guys would go about rehearsing a band like this: we're a 6 piece Funk, Soul, R&B Band that is Vox, Bass, Guitar, Keys, T. Sax, Drums (for now until we get established, then we add a 3/4 horn section & aux perc). Most of the guys are university-trained. We're playing all covers such as "Sir Duke", "September", "Virtual Insanity", etc.

    How should I go about getting these guys to learn the tunes? Should I just give them mix discs with the repertoire and say "Hey, learn ____, ____, and ____ for next week"? Would that be better than transcribing all the charts? Or, is there a good fake book out there that would have a large fraction of our set list? What do you guys think?

    Basically, I've only played in groups that was either loosely improvised or with mostly written out parts. So, I'm not sure how to go about this.
  2. A band that big would benefit with playing from charts (if they can read). If you're not using charts, then each musician really needs to know what their priorities are so not to over play, as things would get cluttered all too easily.
  3. I don't think you need charts if you've got a regular lineup of good musicians. Give everyone the mix CD, make sure you know your parts then rehearse.
  4. dezspet


    Mar 21, 2007
    I play in a very similar band, 6 members, but we live in different countries. We play 3 or 4 times per year and we have only one day before the gig to rehearse. Make it simple: send the CD mix to everyone and if necessary make notes about the suggested changes in the structure (mainly who does which solo or lead melody), and don't forget to ask the singer to check the keys, and if it's necessary he/she has to send you and the others the key changes required.
    So, make it simple, with educated musicians it's not a big challenge. They should be able to learn that kind of tunes by ear.
  5. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    This is kind of like the band I'm in now. Everyone is given a mix cd of the songs to learn for the week. Depending on the complexity, it might be 2, or it might be 5 if they are simple. At rehersal, we pick the first one and play it multiple times, talking about what was missing, good or bad. We might play it 10 times in a row. The bandleader, and only the bandleader, tell us when he's satisfied with the song. Personally, I don't mind playing it 20 times, if that's what it takes.

    Next week we hit the songs from the week before to make sure they still sound good, and then start with the new stuff for this week. We learned 40 songs in 4 months, good enough to play out. One we began gigging regularly, we have slowed down to learning just a couple a month.
  6. mantelclock


    Jul 19, 2005
    This summer I put together a 10 piece band for one gig. The band had alto, Tenor, and baritone sax, two trumpets, keys, bass, guitars, drums, and a vocals. We rehearsed for a month (about 8 sessions), everyone got a CD with the songs, and the horns all got detailed charts that I arranged myself. This really worked great. Everyone knew their parts and there was no chaos or clashing. The important thing about a band that big is that someone has to call the shots. Whether you write it all out or not, if you're the band leader, you've got to lead the band.
  7. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    A mix CD is great, and probably a lot less work than charts unless you already have the charts.

    How tech savvy are you? I sometimes update the key of the song if it is not too far off. For example, most of the bands I am in will not play Bb (none of them are horn bands). So converting Bb to B or A is not a big problem. Converting C to G sounds horrible.