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21 Band Practice Tips for the PERFECT Rehearsal | Strategies & Rehearsal Techniques

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Aug 13th 2021

Ever feel like you're not getting anywhere with your band at your music rehearsals? Are you tired of wasting precious time that could be spent rehearsing? Or are you simply wanting to get your band in tip-top shape?

To achieve the best rehearsal for your band you need to spend as much time as possible in the room that you are practicing in. What you don't want is for your rehearsal to feel like it's being repeated day after day, week after week like Groundhog Day. Your band needs to utilise every second of the time they have to rehearse, making sure time is spent productively.

Follow these 21 quality tips to ensure your practice is perfect, every time.

1. Define The Purpose Of Your Rehearsal

What is your band rehearsing for? Are you going to play a show? Rehearsing new songs? Practice with new equipment or even new band members? Or simply just rehearsing to make sure your band's set list is tight as possible?

These might all be reasons for you to practice, but make sure you know what you are heading into that room for, to make the most out of the time you have.

Keyboard player musician

2. Turn Up On Time

No one likes having to wait on that one person to start practice. It wastes valuable time that could be spent making high-quality music. It is common etiquette not to be late. You wouldn't be late to a party, work, or a doctor's appointment, so why be late to band practice?

A tiny percentage of your week is taken up by band rehearsals so there is no excuse to be late. There is no time to be late when practicing, every second counts!

3. Prepare Chords & Lyrics Ahead Of Time

Make sure to have everything ready and waiting to go before you start rehearsals. Know everything that you need to know for that rehearsal, have any notes, lyrics, and chord charts on hand and available as and when you need them.

Communication is key. Always communicate with your bandmates either before this rehearsal or at the end of the previous one. Ensure that everyone is on the same page as to what you're going to practice and allow time to create a plan of action for your time in rehearsal. You need to make sure that no time is wasted thinking of what to do when you could have come up with a plan previously.

Music sheet notes

4. Make A Gear Checklist

Gear is really the most important part of band rehearsal. How do you expect to practice with no equipment? Make sure you have everything with you and ready to go before you leave the house, and even make a checklist if you have to!

A lot of rehearsal rooms will have some gear in some shape or form but it might not be as good as your own, use it as best as you can. Using their gear may not be better than using your own but it can be easier for your practice.

5. Test Your Gear Before Rehearsals

When setting up, you don't want to be wasting time fixing something that is broken. Make sure that all of your gear is working before you set off for your band rehearsal.

You will also want to bring spares, just like you would for a gig. Only brought one guitar cable? What if it breaks? Don’t be that guy. Treat rehearsals seriously and triple check your gear works properly before turning up.

Guitar pedals practice

6. Time How Long Set Up & Pack Down Takes

You also want to time how long it takes you to set up and tear down so that you can build on that and get quicker at it. You don't want to spend half of your time in the rehearsal setting up.

It also helps in a gig scenario. If you know exactly how long it takes you to set up and pack down, you can plan your gig day to military precision with arrival times and more. You really don't want to be that band that slows down the whole schedule on gig night by taking too long during set up.

7. Don't Waste Time On Unnecessary Breaks

Everyone needs time to hang and talk about the latest episode of their favourite show or talk about how adorable someone's new puppy is, but do not waste time in rehearsal doing this.

By all means, meet up an hour or so before you start band practice and talk about everything you need to get out of your system before you need to crack on and rehearse. This time is for rehearsing and nothing else. You also need to take time before rehearsal to use the restroom or eat as when you are practicing, there is no time to take breaks! The time you have in the rehearsal room is time spent working.

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8. Set Up So You All Have Eye Contact

Set up to succeed! Take every second you can in your rehearsal and use it to make sure you are getting as tight as possible. Eye contact is one of many super important rehearsal techniques to focus on when it comes to band practice. You need to be able to see everything and everyone to understand where and if something goes wrong.

The more you can see everything, the quicker you can fix any problems. To get the best out of your practice, make sure everyone is set up as close as possible so that once again, all mistakes can be seen and fixed quickly. Ensure everyone has a mic so that everyone is able to easily talk to one another, giving many tips and tricks that can keep the practice going strong.

9. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

The time you have to practice is your ‘free hit’ to mess up. You do not have this luxury when you are playing live, so you need to get any and all mistakes out of the way while you can.

You can also use this rehearsal time to practice something you do not usually practice, if you are the drummer that doesn't usually sing, give it a try and you might find you are awesome at singing!

Drum kit practice

10. Practice At A Low Volume

Noise is a vital section of practice to stay focused on. The guitarist, bassist, drummer, and any other parts of the band need to keep the noise down as much as possible. The singer needs to be able to hear themselves sing and not strain their voice. The vocals always need to be the loudest section of the rehearsal.

If everyone is playing too loudly, then you are not able to listen out for any mistakes and rehearsal is the one and only time that you can make these mistakes. In order to keep the noise down to an appropriate level, the drummer can always use rods, which are louder than brushes but quieter than sticks. You need to be able to hear everything.

11. Remove Potential Distractions

Band rehearsal means just that, band rehearsal. It doesn't mean you can stand there and play games on your phone or chat with your best mate. You need to use this time wisely and practice for your upcoming show. With this in mind, don't bring in your phone, don't bring any alcohol, and don't bring any extra people to the rehearsal.

This means you need to leave your girlfriend, your boyfriend or your mum and dad at home. They can come with you when you are actually playing a show. Not whilst you’re rehearsing. The only other person who may be brought to practice is someone who has been brought in for a specific reason. This could be someone for social media, a photographer, or someone who is there to record for something. Rehearsals are for rehearsing songs and sets, not for catching up with mates.

12. Invite An MD (Musical Director)

We all need a little help for something every now and then, and it is no different when it comes to rehearsing. Serious bands sometimes have what is called a Music Director with them at every practice.

A Music Director will be the backbone of your practice and will make sure that everything is going according to plan. They will make sure that everything that needs to be done or practiced, will get done. They are there to speed things up when needed and they are there to slow things down if things are being rushed. If certain songs, riffs or instruments, etc are not coming across as well as first thought out, the Music Director will stop and that is when you need to re-figure out these aspects. When an MD puts their hand up, that means STOP. It doesn't mean stop after this verse, it means STOP NOW. A hand-up means something needs to change!

13. Rehearse With A Metronome To Get Tight

You should be using band practices as a place to not only develop your performances and learn songs, but to also become as tight as possible. One of the best ways to improve your process and become tight as a group is to use a metronome or 'click track' when playing.

Listening closely to a metronome set to the correct tempo will give you an extra level of rhythm, timing, and quality in your live performance. You might think you're roughly playing at the right tempo without a metronome, but that 2, 3 or 4 beats per minute could make all of the difference. One thing you notice when you go and do small gigs is that bands will often naturally push the tempo of the track by instinct, channeling energy and excitement that causes them to perform faster than normal.

When you see massive gigs, they'll do the exact opposite. Pulling the timing just slightly behind the beat. What this does is make it sound absolutely MASSIVE live. Think about the track and where you'll be performing it to decide how fast it should be.

You can hear how this sounds in my video about achieving the perfect rehearsal:

14. Warm Up Before You Rehearse

Rehearsal isn't your warm-up. Don't make the mistake of coming into the rehearsal room 'cold' and not ready to perform.

Skipping your warm-up routines for voice or instrument before you start playing together in practice is just a recipe for a lackluster and wasted rehearsal experience. As professional musicians, you should be able to recognize that warming up properly is essential to performing music to a high level effectively and often. Don't waste the time in rehearsal warming up whilst you're setting up. Do it before you arrive and be ready to lock in with your bandmates.

15. Introduce Instruments One At A Time

Instead of just jumping in all at once and hoping for the best, it's a good idea to allow each band member to practice their parts individually or with one other musician before bringing the entire band into play.

Basically, build from the bottom up. Begin with drums as the foundation to your sound. Just drums. Then slowly introduce other instruments. It's important for the bassist and drummer to lock in and be super tight. Allow those band members to lead the sound to begin with, and then introduce other instruments like guitar, keyboards, backing vocals and finally lead vocals to complete your sound. This allows you to iron out any mistakes that you would otherwise not be able to hear with the full band just going full throttle.

Guitarist pedal foot

16. Loop The Challenging Sections To Nail Those Parts

One of the biggest mistakes musicians make when practicing together is just performing the song over and over from beginning to end. Instead, figure out those sections of a song that always catch you out. The bits where you lose control, aren't confident on, or just keep messing up in general.

In order to get those perfect in a gig scenario, you need to keep this in your head at all times: Don’t learn a song to play it right, learn it so you can’t play it wrong.

Rehearsal time is limited. Run those challenging sections over and over until you get it right. And then run it one more time for good measure! Then run the song in its entirety to fit the puzzle together.

17. No Noodling Allowed

There is nothing worse than trying to work out a part with another band member whilst your lead guitarist is noodling away practicing his licks in the background... It's actually infuriating to try and talk over and there is no excuse.

Exercise restraint on your instrument when band members are trying to provide feedback to each other, or work on ideas.

18. Document & Record Rehearsals

A key feature of your band rehearsal routine should be documenting. A simple way to cover this is to record every single rehearsal.

When you listen to something back, that's when you start to hear discrepancies in the sound. There's no reason why you can't pop your phone down and record a voice note of the session. Or even pop your phone on a stand and film it to capture it visually too.

Band videographer film

19. Gather Content For Social Media

Also, why can't documenting rehearsals be part of your social media strategy? If you're doing great stuff in the rehearsal studio, use it as a way to show behind the scenes and give back to your fans.

Think about your favorite bands and artists. Wouldn't you love to see a glimpse of what they are up to and how they interact with each other in practice?

20. Plan Consistent Rehearsals

Ensure growth and improvement by rehearsing often and regularly. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Improve over time and see incredible results.

Organize a regular slot that works for every member of the group. Book it in blocks at the same space so your regular slot doesn't get taken by someone else, and all musicians know where they need to be each week.

Band rehearsal room space

21. End Rehearsals With Constructive Feedback

Collect your thoughts at the end of the session. After packing down, you've now got the perfect opportunity to actually go through the rehearsal with everyone.

Review what you did, what went well, and what everyone needs to work on for next time. This is how you set the path to gradual improvement over time as a group.