by Rich Maloof
1. No agenda
Make the most of the band’s time together by knowing what you plan to accomplish. Is it a writing session or a performance rehearsal? Do you need to tighten up a few tunes that were sloppy at the last gig? Plan it out in advance. If the group has vocal harmonies or dual guitar parts to work out, you might want to set up separate rehearsal times for just those band members.
2. Inviting friends and fans
Don’t invite anyone to your rehearsal other than bandmates. It’s fine if you need a manager or other business associate to hear what you’re doing, but keep your legions of fans out. Most musicians just don’t tend to work as productively, or even act normally, when there are other eyes and ears on them. If that many people are dying to hear you play, here’s a crazy idea: book a gig.
It’s one thing to take a moment to adjust your tone or get a new riff under your fingers; it’s another to run a dozen lead lines when everyone else is ready to start working. If your band is populated with aimless, endless noodlers, try setting a new rule for rehearsal: Each player signals that he/she is ready to rehearse by not playing.
4. Planning to wing it
Unless you play out all the time, be sure to run your whole set list for the next gig from top to bottom, dress-rehearsal style. Don’t stop for anything. Deal with problems — broken strings, cracked voices, forgotten lyrics, dropped drumsticks — as you would if you were onstage.
Be fair about giving everyone a chance to share musical ideas. A lot tension builds up in a player who’s constantly steamrolled by more assertive band members, even if his/her ideas aren’t always home runs. If you’re truly not interested in your bandmates’ ideas, try your luck on a solo record. Rehearsal is the time to venture down the untrodden path and see where it leads.
If you rent space and practice there regularly, you should be getting a discounted monthly or annual rate. Most places offer breaks for regular customers. They may also reserve your favorite room if you are coming in at the same time and day every week. Each room should be clean and well soundproofed. The best rehearsal studios will be well equipped with gear including a drumkit, mic stands, PA, a selection of amps and sometimes keyboards as well. Some will even have instruments to lend or rent plus spare strings, picks, straps and cables for purchase.
7. Rehearsing at full volume
It’s always great to feel your pant legs flap in front of a 12″ speaker, but do you really need to rehearse with the amp on 11? At lower volumes you’ll be better able tweak an arrangement, make pitch corrections, and call out audible changes on the fly. May your eardrums live another day.