How to have a productive band practice

written by Melissa Ellen, vocal instructor at Metro Music Makers

Are you in a band and getting frustrated because nothing ever seems to get accomplished in practice? Do you have some members who just want to have fun and hang out, and others who are trying to get things done? Is the guitar always blaring and the singer can never hear himself, and neither can anyone else? Here is some advice for those of you who are in a band and have goals that you’d like to achieve.

Metro Music Makers students performing as a band during our summer camp Battle of the Bands.

1) Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Besides having fun, what is the band’s purpose and does everyone agree? How many hours and how many days a week will you be practicing? Is there an agenda? What is the purpose of today’s practice? New songs, a particular event, a songwriting session, an audition?

2) Get and stay organized.

In business there is often a person who takes notes throughout meetings and then emails everyone a summary of what was discussed and what each person is to do next. It is helpful to do this in a band situation as well. The band will have a song list and possibly set lists, charts and lyrics sheets. Each member should have a clear focus for each and all practices. One person sends emails regarding any changes that were made during the practice and what songs are on the list for the next rehearsal, as well as any other important notes.

3) Be on time and come prepared.

If you have to set up when you get there, then show up early in order to be ready for practice time. Singers warm up ahead of time. Each person brings her own instrument and accessories. For example: Guitar players may need to bring an acoustic and electric guitar, pics, capo, extra strings, tuner. If anyone needs charts, bring them WITH a music stand. Singers bring a mic, mic cord, music stand and lyrics sheets.

4) Record the practice.

The quality of the recording doesn’t matter. What’s important is to hear how well the band is meshing… or not. If something messes up during a song, STOP and call it out. Once it is corrected, do the song three times in a row and then again one more time before practice ends. Be sure to take note of the change(s).

Background singers should have their own separate practice time as well. If the band members are also the background singers, then set up a separate rehearsal time for working on vocal parts. Recording is a must!

5) Come prepared.

Make sure to practice on your own and be ready to go over whatever is on the agenda. No matter what genre of music you are playing or whether you’re working on covers or originals, each member has to do his own work. Each band member practices on her own on the band’s days off. The point of band practice is so the band can practice as a group and get tight as a unit — that means you should all be able to hear what each other is playing. You should be LISTENING to each other. There is no need for full volume in a band practice. If you choose to play loudly, wait until you’ve worked on a song a few times and have it down, and then do a run through at performance level. Musicians, if you cannot hear the singer, then lower your volume! No exceptions!

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Now, have fun.

P.S. Not in a band, but want to be? Metro Music Makers will start our first Rock Band program soon, so reach out to us for more information!

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