By Bobby Borg
Here are six more hints that can help you improve your next rehearsal:
Rehearse with a click.
Whether you're rehearsing for a live performance or rehearsing for a recording session, it's a good idea to incorporate the use of a click track. Rehearsing with a click can train you to "hold back" during live performances when you're all pumped up from the crowd. It can also prepare you for recording sessions where consistency of tempo from the beginning to the end of a song is crucial. Your drummer can play along to a click by using a set of headphones and a Roland Doctor Beat metronome (www.roland.com) plugged into a stereo amplifier (one that you can find at stores like Radio Shack—www.radioshack.com). Or if you prefer, your whole band play along with a click by running it through a channel on your PA mixer (most rehearsal rooms have a PA system), or by laying a microphone in front of the metronome's speaker. In any case, USE A CLICK!
Breaking up your rehearsals into different sectionals provides an opportunity to isolate certain areas of concern and to remedy problems.
Tape-record your rehearsals.
All rehearsals should be taped to help uncover where tempos are pushing or pulling, where song arrangements are working or not working, and where set orders are flowing or not flowing. A portable boom box with a cassette recorder is really all you need to get the job done. Just place it in a section of the room where you can get the best possible recording. After the rehearsal, put the date and title on the cassette tape (e.g., New Song #1, Set List A, etc.), and then appoint a band member to take notes on various aspects of the tape and to report back at the next rehearsal.
Breaking up your rehearsals into different sectionals (i.e., drums/bass, vocals/background vocals, guitar/drums/bass) provides an opportunity to isolate certain areas of concern and to remedy problems. For instance, the drummer and bassist can work on sections where the meter may be pushing and pulling and the lead vocalist and background singer can tighten-up harmonies. Stephen Perkins, drummer for the multi-platinum punk/metal/folk band Jane's Addiction notes that his band often rehearses without vocalist Perry Ferrell because there's no better way to truly learn a song and to get tighter as a band. Says Perkins, "Without vocal cues to rely on, you really learn to communicate well as a rhythm section. Furthermore, it gives Perry an opportunity to rest his voice."
Whether you're rehearsing for a live performance or rehearsing for a recording session, it's a good idea to incorporate the use of a click track. Rehearsing with a click can train you to "hold back" during live performances when you're all pumped up from the crowd.
Bring spare supplies.
To avoid ending your next rehearsal long before due, each member should bring spare supplies. Drummers and percussionists should carry extra snare heads and sticks, guitarists and bass players should carry extra strings and amp chords, and vocalists should bring a spare mic. The last thing you want to do is spend your valuable rehearsal time racing around to find the nearest music store. Enough said!
Determine your guest policy.
Determine whether you want your rehearsal sessions to be open to friends and family, or whether you want your rehearsals to be kept private. In the company of friends, you can run new set orders and songs and get their immediate feedback. In private settings, you can work-up new songs and arrangements without feeling pressured to entertain. A possible solution: go for the best of both worlds. Schedule one evening of the week where friends can drop by at a specified time and leave the other days of the week closed to your public. But whatever you do, DETERMINE A POLICY! Simply allowing friends to drop by as they wish will lead to unproductive sessions.
Party or not to party?
Gatorade or beer? Chewing tobacco or a joint? Hey, different things "work" for different people. But notice the word "work." If passing around a joint before rehearsal gets everyone in the vibe to create like it does for Grammy award-winning producer/singer/songwriter Raphael Saadiq, than do as you will. But if certain members are known to lose focus and to get goofy, save the partying for later. There's a time to work and a time to play. Keep your priorities straight!