As anyone who’s ever learned to play an instrument understands, practice makes perfect. Regular band rehearsals help individual members master the songs and improve upon their own skills, while tightening up the group as a whole and helping them learn to play together harmoniously. If you want your band to succeed, practicing often is the single most important thing you can do.
But some groups end up feeling like they’ve hit a plateau — they practice and practice, but don’t seem to be getting any better. This is because it’s not just about showing up to your band rehearsals with your instruments in hand. Great, productive rehearsals that will help the group progress as a whole require some pre-planning. Read on for some band practice tips that will help you and your bandmates get more out of each rehearsal.
Pick what you practice carefully
Band rehearsals should be fun, but you’ll need to take it seriously, too. As enjoyable as it is to play the songs you’ve already nailed, be sure to focus on the ones that need the most work. Likewise, don’t move on too quickly — just because you have a new song that the band is excited to learn, you shouldn’t even attempt to add new material to the repertoire until you’ve completely mastered all your old songs. To avoid falling into temptation on either end of the spectrum, make a setlist prior to practice and stick to it.
Elect a leader
So much of having a successful band is about how well the members work together. Even in groups where everyone’s personalities mesh well together and the band is able to make collaborative decisions, it’s still not practical to give everyone an equal say in how practice is run. A bunch of differing ideas flying around will waste time and get you diverted by debates. The band should nominate one person to take charge over how to structure band practice.
Before diving right into your songs, take some time to get your fingers and vocal chords warmed up and get in the zone. This would be the time to break out some fun covers that the band doesn’t normally play, or play through some of the songs your group knows the best to get started on a fun, confident note. You can also use this as an opportunity to set your audio levels and make sure that everything is ready to go before you start properly rehearsing.
It’s hard to judge how good you sound in the moment. Recording your practices gives you the opportunity to review your performance later and analyze exactly what worked for you and what didn’t. Audio recordings will work fine, but an even better option is to set up a video camera in your band rehearsal space and film it. That will help you work on your stage presence and prepare for live performances as well as tweaking your sound.
This next tip comes to us from Brandon Phillips, the drummer of Boston punk band Rebuilder.
“If you have and upcoming show, pre-plan your set list and time it during rehearsal. Gives you an idea of how to better work through your set with transitions within your allotted set time. Plus, show goers and venue staff will appreciate not having to listen to your band for longer than necessary! As well as other bands playing!”
If you’ve been wondering how to improve band practice, hopefully these tips will come in handy to help you and your group get the most out of your rehearsals!