Often in the lead up to a performance, novice singers and band members feel the strain; running a band is a big commitment and requires some strategic planning!
The Prep Email
Musicians love to have info before the rehearsal. All you have to do is consider the main areas you want to cover or things you want to achieve and send them a timeline for the rehearsal. In a recent charity event my band were very complimentary during on stage interviews about the way I kept them informed.
The ‘Basics’ Reminder
Before the rehearsal, make sure that your band members have all received a reminder email with all the details of the rehearsal venue, times and equipment they will have to bring (as well as what the studio have), the lead sheets for the songs including chord progressions and lyrics – even the drummer will want these. I sang backing vocals for a showcase and witnessed a tense discussion between a drummer and the lead singer because he had brought all of his kit to find one in the studio when he arrived; half an hour of rehearsal was lost!
Practice Makes Perfect
Send out basic recordings to everyone a few days in advance of the rehearsal – either of previous rehearsal or of your first recording of a new song; email them all the next day to check they got them … Musicians love to have the information prior to the rehearsal so that they can practice their chops! Research recordings of songs by published artists to take along to rehearsals and compare for ideas, feel, tempo, etc.
If possible raise enough for the band’s fares to and from rehearsal; I checked out what I spent in a month on coffees and bought a home cafetiere so I could use the £40.00 for band fares!
Warm up your voice before going to the studio for rehearsal; you just wont get a chance once everyone arrives as they will want you to help with finding that lead or asking for tea or getting a better amp etc.
A Refreshment Strategy
Take refreshments such as juice and biscuits – this can help avoid the band running out to get beers – the reality is that most players simply get loud and quite inaccurate once they start drinking alcohol; I always treat my band to a drink after a rehearsal or gig in the pub.
The Concentration Span
Plan a break at a very specific time in your rehearsal running order; I witnessed an MD send his stressed players out an an hour during a ‘same day’ rehearsal for an big gig; some of the band were upset but obeyed; when they returned the rehearsal spiralled to a fantastic level – they simply had time out.
It’s In the Detail
Allow time for small detailed sections of the songs as opposed to ‘bashing through’ the songs five times and tiring out your voice; once everyone is clear about these sections, you can run through twice and record the second time; I have received appreciative comments on countless occasions from players who needed time to work at a difficult section or who found a new idea because they had some space.
Look After Your Ears!
Agree a volume level for the smaller detailed work and promise a louder volume for the final run through – so saving your voice and ears and everyone’s energy as well as developing better musicianship all round!
Be Aware of the Group Dynamic
…I don’t just mean the music! If anyone is acting moody or is argumentative, take control of the situation by suggesting a chat about things afterwards over a tea or a beer; take the discussion seriously – band members often have different visions of what the songs can be; I learned this the hard way when a great bass player left the band because she was tired of mini comments from a guitarist that I hadn’t noticed!
Addendum! Make sure you send a ‘thankyou – I really appreciate you guys!’ text at the end of the night when everyone has gone home – this can extend loyalty and a sense of belonging -both essential for good band work! My band always talk about our ‘family feel’ …. this takes work!