Slowing the tempo to practice as a band.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Piggy8692, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Piggy8692


    Oct 2, 2010
    Northern Utah
    Does anyone do this? I guess this would be more applicable for faster songs that have a lot of intricacies.

    Maybe you have a song that you normall play at 200 Bpm. and just to see where you need improvement as a band, go a head and try playing through the song at 140 or something.

    I've never done this, sounds like it would bee a good idea to make sure that everyone is hitting everything together, or if not. Everyone is not hitting the way they should.

    If ya can't play it slow you can't play it fast. Could you use this as a way of pointing out other peoples mistakes without them getting mad, or causing too much trouble?

    It would make sure everyone knows whether or not they are playing certain parts with the correct timing.

  2. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Yes. A good technique. Used for exactly the purposes enumerated. Every band I've been in, whether school concert band, jazz band, community bands, current gig bands, professional shows, bar bands, etc.: we've all done it as an exercise to develop precision and work up to performance tempo.
  3. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    I have always stayed away from it. All the bands I've ever been in also avoided it. Practice for me means Correct tempo, Standing up, and everything as close to a real Gig as Possible.
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The band that I play in is a 19-piece jazz ensemble. We regularly use "rehearsal tempo." We're not trying to simulate a gig.
  5. If needed every musician should do it during personal training. I'd say that when the band joins, everyone should have his part right.

    Else, you're using rehearsal time as personal training, which could be acceptable if all musicians (including those who made their homework if any) are OK with that.

    You can use a stereo recorder and a debriefing meeting (outside the studio for example) for that.
  6. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Never. But its just the nature of our band. Come ready to play. For better and worse that's how it is.

    Obviously, its not a bad idea. I've worked with choirs etc. and you slow things down and mess around that way to get it right.

    But not our band. We'll play through some rough spots once in a while, but never slow it down.
  7. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Doing half time greatly tightens stuff up
  8. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Yes. It's an effective, oft used technique that's probably been in use since musicians started playing together.
  9. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    I wouldn't be able to stand that. Part of every practice for me is controlling the tempo which is my "Job" as the Bass player. I often find myself having to work with my drummer to get him at the right speed. I have also watched many Jazz rehearsals at full tempo. I guess it's up to the conductor but most want to be as true to the performance as possible.
  10. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    We do it with passages from time to time, to make sure we are all playing something that is meshing properly; usually half time.

    Another thing to do with tempo, however, is just to slow a song down to see what's going on with the feel. A lot of bands tend to rush songs, and take something out of them in doing so. So if you can jam it a little extra slow a few times, you'll find that when you start to creep it back up, you might put a little something different into it while doing it.

    You don't have to play covers at the speed they are on the album; heck many of the bands play them at a different speed live.

    Compare "Dazed and Confused" on Led Zeppelin I to the version on "The Song Remains the Same." They ended up slowing it way down, and making it a lot heavier, and more dark. I really like both versions, and don't consider either "correct."

    Conversely, "Whole Lotta Love" is much FASTER on that live album.

    Playing the song night after night caused them to view it differently than they did when they recorded the album.

    The same is true for covers of other bands, or your own original material.

    You could slow down a song in practice, and find you like it better that way, or by being in the habit of changing tempos, you might find a reason to double a song's speed!

    Tempo is definitely worth messing around with.

    There's a speed that fits your style, and the material.

  11. hotrodjohn

    hotrodjohn Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2009
    Record your next show and sit down as a band and decide if the tempos are ok. It can be an eye-opening experience. Many musicians have a natural tendency to speed up the tempos in a gig setting because of the adrenaline of the live performance. If you guys are of that type, it would make sense to slow the rehearsals down, because they would naturally drift higher when you are at the gig.
  12. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I have a hard enough time getting my drummer to play at the correct tempo for our songs.
  13. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Sometimes with a band, but not very often. Sometimes in my own practice, to get a part down. Not always 1/2 time; sometimes 90% or thereabouts, whatever I can do reliably, then increase gradually until it gets where it needs to be.

    Sometimes as a band, we'll do it as a discipline exercise. It can be tougher to slow something down & keep it working & sounding right than to speed it up.
  14. Piggy8692


    Oct 2, 2010
    Northern Utah
    I think that playing things slower by yourself from time to time is just good practice. In a band setting, I like the idea that it is more of a control exercise than anything. I seem to use tempo a lot in my writing, changing a couple times per song, so it would be good exercise for the band to be able to make the transitions fluidly both up to speed, and at slower tempos.

    I'm glad to see that some of you have tried it and think it could be helpful, maybe I'll bring it up to my bandmates. see what happens.

    Also, It would be good to know exactly what tempo a band is playing for each song, and different parts throughout the songs. My band at the moment seems to think everything should just be as fast as the slowest member can manage. (Usually me) It goes unsaid, but I just said it.

    Thanks for all your input everyone. Keep it coming.
  15. Meh.

    IMHO, getting your chops up to speed is homework, not something to waste practice time on.
  16. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    When I'm doing church leader stuff....

    We commonly will take 60 seconds... put a click on 40bpm... then have everyone clap to it.

    You'd be amazed at how many people lag or jump a beat... if you can't do it at 40... can't do it accurately at 140...

    I know some will look at it as "babysitting" or beneath them... This came directly from one of my arena-playing teachers... Amazing how it works.
  17. That's for individual practice. Rehearsals are to fit all the perfected parts together.
  18. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    You got it Timmy
    When I was in orchestra in school we had to do that. I still push it at band practice.
    Yes, everyone should know their parts when they show up for band practice.
    Band practice it to get everyone on the same page and get it tight. If you can't get it tight at 60 bpm what makes you think you can at 160?
    Speed and volume can cover up a lot of mistakes.
  19. cashpoor51

    cashpoor51 Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    new jersey
    I always found that after slowing it down that there would be arguments later as to the real speed to be played
    its already tough to keep everyone at the same tempo
  20. This isn't going to be news to anybody who has formal musical training, had piano lessons as a kid, took a quarter of band back in middle school, or has a lick of common sense.

    You get the part right at a tempo that lets you place every note where it belongs, and then bump your metronome, drum machine, whatever, up 10 BPM or so. Keep bumping the tempo up till you fall apart. Go back, do it some more.

    Good drummers aren't afraid of metronomes.

    I really liked playing with a drummer who kept one on his kit. His set lists had tempos marked for each tune, 'cause he really didn't care what key we were in. Every tune got counted in at the right tempo. He was there to help you with tempo even if someone else was starting the tune alone. He didn't have to click the sticks, he could just nod the groove to start.

    Practicing any groove at a slower tempo will help you get it "fat" with the notes and rest getting full value.

    My view is everybody should have done this before arriving at a rehearsal. There's home work and personal practice time, and then there's group time at rehearsal. Sure, if there is a break down, and it's not working, playing it slow will turn up the bugs.