Rehearsals can be creative, productive and succinct but often they can end up as long winded, stressful, unproductive and over time. So here are some simple ideas to make them more beneficial for everyone. These are just a starter for 10 so do let us know your comments, experiences and ideas that have worked in your setting.
Create a ‘ready to play by’ timing culture – Rehearsals often drag on way longer than anyone wants. Part of the problem is not starting on time. If a rehearsal starts at 8pm try to create a culture that means musicians are set-up and ready to play but that time. If that means setting a fake start time of 7.15 then do so
Good rehearsals are for honing songs, not learning them. If you are rehearsing a set of songs then it really is the musicians job to know the song before the rehearsal and then spend the time making it work for your group. This also means that if you are the one organising a new song you need to be responsible for giving them all the tools they need (chords, charts, MP3 etc) to learn it a good number of days before the rehearsal.
Use mp3 and tools like Spotify – Most stuff is on Spotify (UK only free music site)and YouTube these days so even just sending a link to the song should be enough (make sure everyone learns the same version of the song though!)
Have a plan, carve up rehearsal time and don’t spent too long on one song. If you have 5 songs and 2 hours, carve up the time according. Dont get carried away and spend too long on one song and neglect the others. if necessary set a timer and stick to it. it should help everone focus.
Start rehearsal with a big easy song to let everyone warm up – quality unimportant! – Very often musicians need just to let off steam at the start of a practice, so pick something familiar and high energy. Let everyone a make as much noise as they want. Hopefully everyone will calm down and focus when the seroius work begins.
Dont forget to pray before you begin.
It doesnt need to be long just make it mean something without being a token gesture. This should also help everyone focus and take the practice time seriously.
Don’t widdle between songs! This is one of the most irritating things especially if the person running the rehearsal is trying to talk though a song or give instructions. if you can’t resist noodling on your instrument when you are not playing then literally put it down or step away from it between music.
Try to rehearse facing each other at low volume Its so much easier to walk through a song if the whole band can see each other and call out song structures as we play without masses of amplification. My band often rehearses seated, in a circle, with practice amps and a cut down drum kit (kick, snare, hats and brushes) to reduce the volume.
– loop them if necessary. if you’ve only got limited time don’t practice the whole song as most people are ok when they are playing, its just stops, starts and changes between song sections that go wrong. So just practice those, but try them more times than you think you need to just so everyone commits them to memory.
Encourage the band to write notes. If necessary bring pens and paper to help create this culture. Notes dont have to be detailed or in any form of proper music notation. Just anything that helps people remember arrangements, cues, keys, tempos etc.
Don’t practice complex arrangements, practice reading and following each other. I’ve seen so many worship leaders try to create over complex arrangements that most musicians forget by the time it comes to play them live. So its much better to spend time on learning to ‘feel’ the song as a band and teaching your musicians to follow you through spontenious changes. That way if the congregation doesnt respond to your set arrangement you can change it up on the fly.