Rehearsing with a Band

Rehearsing with a Band

I once had a high school football coach that always said, "you play like you practice". He was insinuating that the effort on the practice field should equal the effort put forth on the playing field at game time.

Although I had great respect for him, I never subscribed to that theory. There is just no way to match the level of intensity in practice that you experience on game day.
band 005Band rehearsal is much the same. It is almost impossible to play music with the same level of intensity as when you are on stage with the adrenalin flowing in front of a live audience.

There are, however, things that you can do to make the most effective use of rehearsal time to ensure that, when the stage lights come up, you are ready for a screaming crowd.

Be Prepared

The most productive band rehearsals take place when all band members are prepared ahead of time. You should have agreed, prior to rehearsal, on a course of action. Everyone should know in advance exactly which songs they are expected to learn.

Everyone should also have done their homework ahead of time. Each member should have their individual parts worked out before getting together as a group. Each should know what key the songs are to be played in and the basic structure of the songs.

There is no bigger waste of every one's time than to show up at rehearsal, prepared to work up the agreed upon songs, and to have one member that just didn't put forth the effort into learning their part before they got there. One way to throw a wet blanket on a rehearsal is for one member to sit there trying to learn their part "on the spot" while everyone else is ready to go.


Show up on time and be band 003prepared to go to work. If you have agreed that rehearsal starts at 6:00pm then be there a few minutes ahead time to set your gear up and be ready to hit the first lick at 6:00pm.

Be respectful of everyone else's time and save the socializing for later. Remember that the purpose of rehearsal is to rehearse! Social interaction is great, but discussions about the work day, spouses, families and joke telling are better left for afterwards.
Rehearsal is not the time to jam. Work up the song and move on. Keep solos to a minimum and save your best licks for a live crowd.

Be Considerate

There will be times when one or more members may be having difficulty nailing a part. It can be frustrating for the other members to keep going over and over a section of a song for that person and impatience can turn into criticism.

It is in these times that restraint will need to be exercised. Critisizing someone will not help them get their part any faster, and will probably delay it as "their" frustration level increases.

Sometimes it can help to just move on to something else and come back to the difficult part later. Playing in a band can be an emotional experience and being considerate of other members feelings will go a long way toward making rehearsals more productive.

Keep in mind, the next song may be the one that "you"  are having difficulty with.

Plan Ahead

Save some time at the end of rehearsal to plan ahead for the next one. Make sure there is a clear understanding with all members exactly which songs will be worked on for the next 002

Set a date and time for the next rehearsal and make sure everyone leaves with a written list of what the songs are for the next get-together, as well as what keys the songs will be played in.

If possible, see that everyone walks out with a CD or MP3 of the new songs to be worked on next. If all band members have a list and recordings of the songs for the next rehearsal, there can be no excuses if someone shows up unprepared.

It is a great feeling to walk out of a productive rehearsal having accomplished the goals set forth in advance. It keeps the band feeling "tight" and creates a sense of anticipation to break out the new material at the next gig.

If all the band members can stay on the same page by being prepared, focusing on the task at hand, exercising consideration for each other, and planning ahead for the next rehearsal - the band will run much more smoothly and you be part of a musical group that is more than ready to hit the stage!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Keith Dean

keith01 lowKeith Dean is founder of and a 30 year veteran of stage and studio. He toured extensively as a road musician throughout the US and Europe, was a former lead guitarist for Jason Aldean, and has shared stages with Little Big Town, Wild Rose, Winger, Confederate Railroad and more. He is a published songwriter, owned and operated a successful music store, and has instructed numerous students in guitar.

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