The guys and I are about a month into Dierks Bentley’s Sounds of Summer Tour, but long before we kicked off our first show in Raleigh, NC, we were hunkered down in a small room just beginning to rehearse for 2015. Our band and crew are always focused on trying to find new and interesting ways to make the current year’s show better than the last, and these rehearsals are the place where this crucial groundwork occurs.
At their best, rehearsals are fun, creative, and productive. At their worst, they are tense, awkward, and wasteful of everyone’s time and energy. With hopes of avoiding the latter, here are my three rules for successful band rehearsals.
1) BE ON TIME
Woody Allen is credited for saying “80 percent of success is showing up.” To that, I would have added “on time.” It’s not a difficult thing to do, but I’m always amazed at the amount of musicians that I’ve worked with who don’t adhere to this simple principle (not in our band, of course). If rehearsal is scheduled to start at 10:00, that means be ready to rock at 10:00. Don’t be that guy who strolls in at 9:59 and then needs 30 minutes to setup and get ready. To put it another way, if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re not, you’re late.
2) BE PREPARED
This can mean several different things. If the sole purpose of a rehearsal is to play four specific songs, then learn those four songs before you show up! Things will always change and evolve – that’s why you’re rehearsing, after all – but if everyone has a solid foundation and good knowledge of the material, the exploratory process will be much more rewarding.
If your band is getting together to write, record, or just jam, then be prepared by showing up fresh with a sharp mind full of great ideas. And whatever you’re doing, make sure your that you bring all of your gear, know that it works, and understand how to use it. That awesome new multi-effects unit will be a worthless distraction if you don’t know how to change presets or make adjustments. Figure it out on your own time.
3) BE HEARD
I don’t mean play loud – although you should definitely do some of that as well. What I mean is let your voice be heard. This will vary a bit based on your band’s culture and your role within it, but if you have a killer idea for something you’re working on, I say throw it out there. Even if it doesn’t stick, it might spark someone else’s creativity and take the song or arrangement in a new, totally awesome, direction. Be engaged and active in the creative process, and listen to your bandmates as they are doing the same.
Great rehearsals lead to great performances. Hopefully these three simple rules will help make your next rehearsal as productive and worthwhile as it can possibly be. What would YOU add to this list?