In the eyes of the public, a band is a lot like an iceberg. There’s the little part that sticks out above the surface that’s seen – your gigs, videos, releases, etc. – and then there’s the enormous part that supports the whole enterprise: practice. In order for your band to become as successful as it can be, it’s important for you and your band members to get the most out of band practices as possible. In order to help your band with having more effective band practices, we have some rock solid tips.
#1: Make a Plan
Before everyone hops behind their instruments and launches into the first song, take a minute or two to review what you hope to accomplish. If you’re rehearsing for an upcoming gig, review the set list and plan how many times you’re going to run it. If you’re working on new material, map out how much time you’re going to spend on it. When you do this, it also doesn’t hurt to designate someone to be in charge of running the proceedings.
#2: You’re Not in Hyde Park
The only good music is loud music, right? That might be true in certain venues and at certain times, but it’s not true of your band practice. Your band practice is about perfecting to tone, style and arrangement of your songs, and that can only be accomplished if everyone is playing at an acceptable volume. Most likely, your drummer is going to be responsible for incrementally moving the volume level up, so make sure that you keep him or her in check.
#3: Record Your Practices
When you’re in the moment, it can be hard to truly tell how things are going. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to record at least some of your practice, especially if you’re hammering out new material. For one, it will help you to better identify places where things need work. More importantly, though, it will help you to identify those small accidents or little improvisations that take a song to the next level. Now, you don’t need a home studio to do this. The voice memo function on a band member’s phone will suffice – provided everyone’s playing at an acceptable volume, of course.
#4: Know When It’s Time to Move On
When band practices become prickly and contentious, it’s usually because everyone in the room has been beating their heads against the same thing for way too long. Maybe there’s a part in a song that’s just not happening, or maybe there’s a new song that everyone just can’t get to sound right. When you reach a point with something in practice where it seems like progress isn’t being made, move onto something else, and then come back to it.
#5: Practice Begins At Home
This last tip is really a question of what your band hopes to accomplish. If you’re just a bunch of weekend warriors playing a couple of fun tunes, then everyone practicing once a week is probably enough. But, if you’re trying to reach that next level and are really interested in sounding professional, then everyone needs to set aside time in their own personal life to practice band material. When people come truly prepared to band practice, amazing things can and will happen.
Keep At It!
When you learned to play your instrument, you only got better and more gifted with it by practicing continually. A band operates in much the same way. Only through consistent (and effective) practices can your band achieve the truly professional sound that you’re after. So, keep at it, and use whatever means necessary to maximise the time that you and the other band members have together.