Might have to have the "you guys need to practice more" talk

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by invader3k, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. I didn't think I'd ever find myself in this situation, but here I am.

    I've noticed a pattern lately developing at our practices, which we hold once a week. Guitarist is trying to learn the songs (I think), but still struggles on some basic stuff. For instance, we've been doing a Spin Doctors song for over a month now, and he still doesn't have the guitar solo fully down yet.

    I will say he has a stressful job and works a ton...well over 40/hrs a week most weeks. He comes straight from work to practice. Work for him also involves many hours on the road each day.

    Drummer doesn't have such excuses. He is off every Friday through Sunday (works 10 hr days Mon-Thurs), has two drum kits at home...he alluded a couple weeks ago to the fact he doesn't even have a kit set up at home right now, though! Further, I know he doesn't practice for one minute on his own. It's obvious.

    Drummer suggested we do "Flagpole Sitta" a couple weeks back. OK, great. Basically a four chord song. Practice time came around and he was like, "I haven't listened to that one yet...not sure how it starts..."

    Another example: We were trying to do "Wagon Wheel" last week. Guitarist had emailed the video of it (Darius Rucker version) to us. Drummer got the deer in headlights look when we mentioned it. "Wagon Wheel...what's that?" Me: :scowl: We hammered through it anyway and got it down, at least somewhat.

    Practice this week rolled around, and it was like he had never played it before...well, obviously not. He even said, "I haven't heard this song before."

    Our shows have been going well, but I'm tired of this pattern at practices. We have a show tonight, and I'll guage things afterwards. However, I'm a busy guy, and I'm not content with half-assed practices. I have a family and run a business, but I still find time once or twice a week to practice and learn the songs we're working on.

    WyreAndWood likes this.
  2. Practicing rather than rehearsing as a group once a week for what? And for how many hours are the Group Practices? Is this an original, cover, or mixed band - is it more just a hobby/hangout together type band or what? How many gigs a month - one maybe two? You should be gigging once a week and maybe rehearsing once a month - unless you all just liking hanging out together and either teaching songs or being taught songs.
  3. Yeah, it's supposed to be more of a "rehearsal", but I use the terms interchangeably as do most people I think. Practices are about two hours.

    This is a cover band...mix of classic and modern rock. We gig once or twice a month and make at least $100/man per show.
  4. good luck.....you're right,but that's not always enough.....if they're not motivated,i doubt that will change.....
  5. I guess it's how to have the conversation about that, which is the issue for me. We're still getting gigs, shows are going well, and we get paid, so I don't want to make this all about me or my own personal preferences.

  6. I agree for the most part about this statement but I have been given that talk once and after words learned 4 songs in one week so it is not always just a waste of your time so I would try to give them a chance. Talk to them a bout and if no improvement I. Two week ether kick them out or leave the band.
  7. Well, we have two more gigs in May, then nothing until August, so I wouldn't bail or kick anyone put that quickly.
  8. invader3k, I know how you're feeling and I feel bad for you bro. But all you can do is talk with them about it and hope (but don't hold your breath), or learn to live with it, or find a more motivated band. Good luck, and best wishes.

    EDIT: If you have the talk - just be straight forward, honest, "not shy" and don't water it down, and be prepared for BS.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Yeah, sounds like time for the talk. If you start a song next rehearsal and the lack of preparation is equally apparent as what you've been describing, you say, "OK, hold on... if rehearsal together is going to be worthwhile, we've got to be prepared. Otherwise it's a waste of time." If they can't man up to that, time to look for another band.
  10. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    You've mentioned a couple of times that gigs are going well, and I wonder if that is your "problem." It's hard to get most people to practice if they don't really feel that they need to. Also, it sounds like no one has any sense of urgency about learning new songs, or they would be motivated to put the time in.

    Have you listened to recordings from recent gigs to confirm that they have, in fact, been as good as everyone thinks? If listening to recordings reveals that there are more mistakes and glitches than everyone had realized, that might crank up the motivation levels.
  11. +1 to recordings. The cold hearted light of day can make a huge difference.

    I am a similar personality. It drives me absolutely crazy to "have these songs ready" and others show for rehearsal without a clue or just winging it. I also do not have it in me to just "learn to live with it".

    FWIW, I make my expectations known early. The first time players show up unprepared I say something to them about it. It is unacceptable to me for someone else to routinely waste my time and the rest of the band's time - not just the time at rehearsal but the time spent getting ready for them! I get that occasionally things get in the way and I can live with that.

    If you routinely show up unprepared, one of the two of us will be leaving the band before long. People who constantly show up unprepared are not going to change their ways.

    Yeah, I'm that guy.
    WyreAndWood likes this.
  12. FerruleCat

    FerruleCat Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    It's not necessarily about good guys and bad guys; it's just about the matching of expectations. After 20 years in cold storage, I've just started playing with some guys again, AND I'm making the transition from rhythm guitar to bass. Now that we've played together four times and it looks like things are gelling, we will need to have a talk soon about expectations. For example, I'm a working stiff, and anything more than one two-hour rehearsal a week plus two gigs a month is going to start looking like an intrusion on my time. I have kids and do volunteer work, too, so my music has to stay fun.

    Other areas where I find it's important to match up expectations: (1) If there are covers, do you expect a note-for-note reproduction of the original, or are you open to interpretation? It can be annoying when the guitarist stops the song and says, "You played that wrong" (i.e., snuck in a 5th). (2) Are you going to be transposing the song in rehearsal? I use open strings whenever I can, and for now it can throw me to have to transpose on the fly.

    But if you're getting frustrated about expectations, the first thing to ask is whether you've had the talk before. If not, then just establish the baseline (or bassline) and go forward from there.
  13. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Yes it's time to have "the talk".

    It sounds like there is motivation lacking.
    We're a cover band 2 CD band with 2 CD's of original material. For new tunes, we agree on the song and by which artist(prevents the "I learned so-and-so's version) and play it at the following gig BUT we all LOVE performing so we are motivated. We learn it on our own and perform it together. The first time you do that is magic.

    I second the "record shows" idea. I've had a Zoom H4 capturing EVERY show because we do call outs, have guest folks(GOOD and bad), and sometimes modify songs on-the-fly. Recording lets you have the band info, you and the drummer working or not info, and those moments that may never happen again. Example: we did a show at a barrel racing event and Brad Arnold(singer of 3 Doors Down) came up and requested and sat in on covering "The Dance" and a few other songs. Got it on mp3 via my H4. He was there because his wife does barrel racing.
  14. I have one of those Zoom handheld recorders. It's probably time to start using it again at shows. It's hard to say, "Hey, we're not playing good enough live," if we keep getting re-booked at the same places, though.

    I'm not a perfectionist...no one in the band has the expectation to learn things note for note. I've been in those kinds of bands in the past, and they're not that fun to me...you end up spending months in rehearsal before actually playing any gigs.

    That said, it shouldn't be hard to get down a basic rhythm to "Wagon Wheel" or know how "Friday I'm in Love" starts. I work too hard during the week to have my time wasted at practice by others who can't bother to work on three or four new agreed upon songs.

    At the very least, a drummer can listen to songs in the car during his commute and get the basic idea down fairly easily. I think showing up without even listening to them feels like disrespect to me, especially when someone else in the band took the time to send an mp3 or Youtube link.
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  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Based on your description, you are currently involved with a "mediocre bar band." It also sounds like the other members aren't particularly interested in improving their musical ability. If you want to be in a better band, the indicators are you will have to quit and find another (better) band.
  16. FerruleCat

    FerruleCat Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I would guess the prospect of them stepping up is less than likely.
  17. Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. We'll see. I think I'll have to have "the talk" with them about expectations for rehearsals at least in the near future.
  18. StayLow


    Mar 14, 2008
    You're enabling. Only solution is to refuse to practice. There is no reason for capable, conscientious musicians to practice, or even rehearse, covers unless you're choreographing a show or adding/changing tricky bits.

    If it happens again, that you have to deal with this BS, flat-out refuse to proceed on that song and skip to the next.

    OK, the guitarist is busy. He should still know if he has it down or not, in advance. If he doesn't, and the drummer doesn't, maybe that means skipping practice that week. You can spend the time woodshedding or jamming with a different band, with your family, on your business... anything other than babysitting grown men.
  19. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    ^This right here is your problem.
  20. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    When someone gives me the "I didn't have time" excuse...

    There are 168 hours in a week. Let's assume that someone may be at work up to 50 hours in a week. And let's say they get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, that's 56 hours. 168-106=62 hours unaccounted for. Commute to work? Let's allow an hour each way, 5 times a week. 62-10= 52. And they can't find 20 minutes in that 52 hours to sit down and learn a 4 chord pop song? It's either laziness, or they're not a good musician. Either way not someone I want to work with.
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