How to Rehearse

No, that's not what I meant by

No, that’s not what I meant by “that bit at I”….

January is a good time for nagging, I find. And often restating the bleeding obvious, even to yourself.

The main point about rehearsals is that they should be efficient use of everyone’s time.


A good rehearsal involves everyone looking at the charts you’ve brought along, maybe asking a few questions, then running it through – just the head, in and out, some quick bits of collaborative on-the-fly arrangement, any planned interludes, that sort of thing. Then another short discussion about the problematic points and relentlessly beating them into submission – loop those four bars… Finally, decisions might be made about solo order and sundry details. That’s it – okay, next tune. Next, next, next…

There’s nothing wrong with anybody asking: “can we just run it one more time from four before the bridge, for my benefit?” Nobody’s ever going to object to that.

Another point here, courtesy of my bassist friend Matt: stand your ground. Someone will occasionally say something like “hey I’m not sure about that bit… how about…?” Sometimes this can be a brilliant suggestion that really improves the tune. But a suggestion is often an excuse – they can’t really play what you’ve brought and want things easier. Of course, if you stick to your guns and it becomes clear the tune just isn’t going to go well, it might be best to compromise or just shelve the tune.

If you’ve got some really unusual stuff, it’s never a bad idea to send the parts round in advance. They don’t always get looked at, of course…

Anyway, with a reasonably experienced Scooby Gang and the right attitude, you should be able to satisfactorily rehearse a whole gig’s worth of unfamiliar material in as little as half an hour. It’s quite common for bands to efficiently top and tail new material during a sound check.

So where is this Letter I?

So where is this so-called Letter You?


A bad rehearsal involves wasting everyone’s time by having an extended blow over something that everyone can already play anyway.

There are occasions when you might want to workshop things for a bit, refresh your memory over a couple of choruses or just get the feel of the room, but in general don’t excuse making yourself feel good as “getting the band vibe together”.

Rehearsal, like practice, is all about working on the stuff that makes you feel bad until it doesn’t, not blowing to enjoy yourself. If you want to get together and jam, that’s fair enough and if someone isn’t a great reader or lacks familiarity with some musical specifics, by all means get together and work on things. But that’s practice, not rehearsal.

A good rehearsal should be work, not fun. A good gig should be fun, not work.

A good rehearsal is full of mistakes and stops and starts – in fact, a rehearsal is your chance to make mistakes, in the hope that you won’t on the gig.


A really bad rehearsal involves personal power struggles and the odd punch-up…

Herendeth the rant.

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Posted in c) Musicianship, e) Rants & Ramblings

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