The Song Path: Getting the most from rehearsals
Written by Andy Patterson
After booking rehearsal time, and arranging band members’ (and probably their better halves’) schedules to enable their attendance, the next thing you need to think about is what you are going to rehearse.
Whether you are rehearsing material to record in the studio or to play live, play through the songs. Then play through it again. Have a listen to it each time, and each time concentrate on your part – which bit could be better from a band perspective? If it is just an individual part that needs practice, then make a note of it and move on – there’s no point rehearsing a bass line when you have an expensive rehearsal room and a full band waiting to move onto the next song.
After you have rehearsed the full song a few times, move onto:
Starts and endings
Check the start of each song – practice who in the band starts – is it a click in from the drummer? A guitar riff or a bass part maybe? Make a note of this – if you’re a bit nervous about the gig, you can put it on the setlist. Rehearse the intro to the song a few times – stopping at the first chorus maybe.
Then think about how you end the song – does it sound tight and polished, or does it sound like the bass player has fallen over the drum kit?
Again, rehearse the outro a few times – from the end of the final chorus to the end of the song. Try it a few times – could you be doing it better? Work at it until it is tight, and then move on to the next song, and do the same again.
Full Run Through
Towards the end of your booking, set aside some time to run the whole set – especially if it is the last rehearsal before your big gig, or your session in the studio.
Listen carefully to the starts and ends – and make sure they are as you rehearsed. These are generally the most important bits of the song- an audience are more likely to forgive indiscretions with tempo or tuning if you start and stop at the same time, in a rehearsed and uniform fashion – remember the start is the bit that grabs them and the end is the bit where they clap, so these are generally the most important bits of the song.
There’s also a lot to be said for checking the set list to see how songs flow into each other – if 5 of your songs are in the same key, then maybe spread them through the set – if 5 are ballads, then maybe try for some more upbeat songs, unless of course ballads are your thing – and even then try to work something less soporific into your set.
Remember the golden rule – sometimes you’ll do something un-rehearsed and it will be amazing, but most of the time it will just sound poor and un-rehearsed….so… Failing to prepare means you prepare to fail.