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Do you ever feel like you need to step in and take over the rehearsal?


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So I've recently joined a band and it has become very difficult to deal with people being very loose about things. We had 4 hour rehearsals twice a week to prepare for a recording session and It's not unusual for people to come in 1-1:30hr late. People generally didn't prepare the music and things just didn't get done. I gave my sincere effort to be in time and prepare the music hoping that I can set example. I've also decided to take initiative and taking charge of the band because bandleader was a vocalist and it didn't seem like he had the knowledge or the authority to get things done. I was still polite about it, but I basically would go over the song with the band, telling them how we start/finish, hits and all the details so that we don't play half way through and have people end up being on different pages.

 

Fast forward few weeks and I guess I am left with sense of futility, as the recording ended up being a huge disappointment. To give you a sense of how it went..we had to run through stuff with the drummer during the recording session because he wasn't doing the stuff we've discussed during rehearsals. That was last week and this week we had one last rehearsal in preparation for a show this weekend... and I've started to really lose patience by this point. Again, we had people who were more than 1 hour late, and people didn't seem to remember what we worked on last week. On top of that, people started suggesting different ideas and wanted to experiment with songs(IMO this is not something you should be doing in the last rehearsal when you are supposed to be polishing stuff). I was expecting this rehearsal to be done within 2 hours and it was taking well over 3 hour. So I've kind of lost and took over the rehearsal. If I hear people missing some important stuff about the arrangement, I would tell them to stop immediately, remind them that we've worked on this last week and ask them to start over.. rinse and repeat. I was not in the mood to just let it go and waste time as people try to figure out what went wrong. I've decided to simplify and cut some of the stuff if people were struggling to play the right parts(something I'd let go off in earlier rehearsal). I also asked people to stop playing while I was talking because there was too much noodling around and people not paying attention to what others were saying. I was not throwing tantrum but people could sense my frustration and passive aggressive tone..and as much as I don't like being in that mood, it got things done. People weren't noodling around whatever pressure i was exerting brought back the discipline and focus that IMO was much needed at that point.

 

I guess I'd like to know what you guys would have done in similar situation. For me, it was too late for me to get out by the time I realize that this is not working, and I had to honor my rehearsal/gig commitment. I've already told the bandleader this will the last show, and expressed my problem with the band.. and maybe I should have tolerated the mess and went along with it, but it's really hard for me to do that when the commitment I was making was becoming a big waste of time and I really felt like the music was really suffering at that point.. I don't expect everything to be perfect but I have hard time leting it go if the music is not working in a fundamental level.

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Is this in addition to your subbing gig thread, found here? http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/LivePerformanceCategory/acapella-54/31738072-should-i-just-say-no-to-this-gig

 

In answer to your question, yes, all the time. I constantly come to the few rehearsals to hear several people learning the songs for the first time (rather than at home before the rehearsal), constantly noodling between songs and (my favorite) trying to gloss over parts they don't know in hopes that no one will notice. Vocal harmonies is a huge offender and personal peeve of mine. I've stood with my bass off and arms crossed for ten minutes waiting for people to stop. Usually stewing the whole time. I will stop a song if somebody's harmony sounds like a dying cat or if their trying to "help" with a part when they don't have one. Grrrrr. I've walked out of rehearsals where no one else was ready. I find it to be really disrespectful of my time, especially the time that I've spent to be prepared for a given rehearsal. I don't mind leading a rehearsal of prepared people, but I just get irritated if people haven't put forth any effort.

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Ya this is a different band. I have absolutely no problem with that band in terms of being on time and people being prepared.

 

I agree with the disrespectful part. I have been going non stop for over 3 weeks now between rehearsing and gigging, and I have so much I need to do, and the fact that I was stuck putting up with this really started to get to me lately. While we were waiting for the bass player to show up, we agreed on doing a guitar intro on a song and when it was time to do the song with the whole band later, he was confused as to how we were supposed to start and I had to remind him... that was kind of the final straw and I felt like I needed to do something. That alone may not be a big deal but when you have stuff like that happening all the time it's a big waste of time and disrespect to others who are actually paying attention to the rehearsal and writing down notes for the songs.

 

We had rehearsal few weeks ago where the drummer just didn't show up. We have already agreed on the rehearsal date and the band leader even sent reminder the day before the gig. We get a message in the morning from the drummer saying he had a gig out of town and he is still not back(probably because he was partying). He even had the nerve to say band should be tighter and more prepared after the session..I guess whatever frustration I felt has been building up for quite some time.

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You can't get blood from a stone.

 

The music director of the last band I was in made sure I knew that in the time it took me to learn 8-10 new songs between rehearsals, he could have learned twice that many. I've had a fair amount of pro experience, but not nearly as much as he has. He's simply more fluent than I am, for lack of a better word. He knew that when he offered me the keyboard chair.

 

I remember being in a blues band years ago where I got really pissed at the drummer who finally figured out the groove on "Crosscut Saw" . . . . only to forget it the next time we played it. But that was the best he could do. You've got to take the measure of everybody in the band early on and decide if you can live with their abilities and their take on what it means to be a committed "professional".

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You can't get blood from a stone.

 

The music director of the last band I was in made sure I knew that in the time it took me to learn 8-10 new songs between rehearsals, he could have learned twice that many. I've had a fair amount of pro experience, but not nearly as much as he has. He's simply more fluent than I am, for lack of a better word. He knew that when he offered me the keyboard chair.

 

I remember being in a blues band years ago where I got really pissed at the drummer who finally figured out the groove on "Crosscut Saw" . . . . only to forget it the next time we played it. But that was the best he could do. You've got to take the measure of everybody in the band early on and decide if you can live with their abilities and their take on what it means to be a committed "professional".

 

 

The problem has nothing to do with ability, It has to do with lack of effort. Most of the problem would have been avoided if people were actually paying attention and bothered to take notes. The stuff we were going over during the recording session with a drummer isn't some sort of difficult fills, all that the band leader asked to do was to make sure he drops down volume and cresendo a bar before the bridge. Likewise, the stuff I was getting frustrated during the rehearsal was 1)guitarist forgetting he is supposed to take intro on a song we worked on an hour earlier 2)Drummer being clueless as to what groove he was supposed to play on a song even though I have said numerous times in past rehearsals to play latin groove(which he knows perfectly how to do).

 

I agree that you really can't change people and their attitude about music, which is why I've told the bandleader I will no longer be able to be part of the band, but by the time I realized that this is not going to work it was too late to really get out of the next gig. I think big part of the problem is the bandleader's unwillingness to discipline and replace members, and although it's not my place to take his role, if I didn't do anything about it, it meant putting up with a lot more wasted time and show being a train wreck. For the recording session we spent close to 20 hours on 2 easy songs and I'd say about 2-3 hours of it was actually useful practice... and I really didn't have it in me to put up with that for the rest of my rehearsal commitments.

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its really a surprise to me, that they haven't kicked you out of the band already :D

hey, the new guy is pushing people around, how the rehearsal should go all the time and makes a lot of stress, this is band time, this should be fun, i'm pushed around in my day job all time, i don't need this..... etcetcetc....

 

*lol* sorry couldn't resist

i hear ya, yes it is frustrating

 

you have two choices

1. lower your expectations and standards and live with it, what gets done by/with this band, even if it might not be much as it sounds from your description

 

or

2. leave the band as soon as you can

 

for several reasons, myself choose nr 1,

- i'm not a pro and i'm not doing this for a living

- i have two small kids and my amount of time available is very limited, so even if i want i cannot spend more time

- i like the people i'm playing with, even with all the late coming, not remembering which parts used to be played how, not being prepared, not showing up at all etc...

 

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Who paid for the studio time?

 

 

we all chipped in, even though the vocalist paid more. I am out of the band but I did tell him I'll put in my part for the studio time as promised. It seems like I am stuck doing bands that either asks for too much or too little.. haha

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I have to ask: how did the gigs go with this band?

If they can't keep it together in rehearsal, how can they function in a live audience setting?

 

I have walked out of plenty of similar scenarios...the whole 'close enough for rock'n'roll' thing...you say it isn't about ability, but it obviously is. I don't care how good a player's chops are if he/she/it can't act professionally, that counts.

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I have to ask: how did the gigs go with this band?

If they can't keep it together in rehearsal, how can they function in a live audience setting?

 

I have walked out of plenty of similar scenarios...the whole 'close enough for rock'n'roll' thing...you say it isn't about ability, but it obviously is. I don't care how good a player's chops are if he/she/it can't act professionally, that counts.

 

The gigs went surprisingly ok.. Things were messy but there was no absolute train wreck. I remember the drummer not coming in at the right time on this one gig, which made it kind of awkward because it was supposed to be a climactic moment in the song, but we kept playing and got through it. I guess the musicians in the band are capable enough to fake it and they were ok with that, but then again, what's the point of doing regular rehearsals if they are content with that kind of quality?

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After many decades of playing, I've come to the conclusion that rehearsals are evil, unless you are rehearsing with charts and with "professionals". At that point you barely need to rehearse, it's more like making sure the charts are correct.

 

Against my better judgement, about a year ago, I committed to a series of rehearsals with a Reggae band comprised of some very good musicians. Most rehearsals started an hour or so late. The first part would go okay but then there would be a "smoke break". After the smoke break, there wasn't much point in rehearsing, but we would do it anyway. At the next rehearsal we would have to start all over again, because no one (except me) could remember what we had done previously. We did a couple of gigs and then the project ground to a halt. It was a good reminder of why I don't like to rehearse, and why I don't smoke.

 

Paid rehearsals - the only way to fly.

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I'm leading a 'host band' for a 'pro jam', our first rehearsal/run-through is tomorrow, some jazz standards, some R&B, soul, swing, and blues. I expect everyone to have done their homework. These guys have all played with me in varying configurations over the years, and most of them are far better musicians than I, and have sided with a number of name acts in pick-up bands. I'm lucky to know them, and luckier to have corralled them for this deal. I don't expect there will be any charts in the studio, I'm sure there will be some 'bloodshot eyes' in the room. It is the nature of the biz.

My chief skill is herding cats...sober or stoned. I'll be reasonably sober...

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After many decades of playing, I've come to the conclusion that rehearsals are evil, unless you are rehearsing with charts and with "professionals". At that point you barely need to rehearse, it's more like making sure the charts are correct.

 

Against my better judgement, about a year ago, I committed to a series of rehearsals with a Reggae band comprised of some very good musicians. Most rehearsals started an hour or so late. The first part would go okay but then there would be a "smoke break". After the smoke break, there wasn't much point in rehearsing, but we would do it anyway. At the next rehearsal we would have to start all over again, because no one (except me) could remember what we had done previously. We did a couple of gigs and then the project ground to a halt. It was a good reminder of why I don't like to rehearse, and why I don't smoke.

 

Paid rehearsals - the only way to fly.

 

 

People coming late and taking long smoke break sounds a lot like what I went through with the band. In the future I think I just need to make better decisions after getting a sense of what it's like in the first 1-2 rehearsals. If I get the sense that people coming late, unprepared..etc seems to be the norm, I should just tell them it's not going to work for me and move on. There is no need to give the band benefit of the doubt and stick around hoping things can get better.

 

I agree that rehearsal isn't the time for people to learn their music. You should be ready to play the material and it's there to work out some of the details. The only exception for doing a lot of rehearsal is if you are involved in project that requires you to do demanding music, and people ok with it, but that's more like practicing together.

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I agree with your post - not everyone has the same talent, skill or work ethic.

 

I'd like to add what is most important to me - the music. Put a bunch of oddball people, with different levels of heart, talent and skill, then let the music decide how much it's worth putting up with each other's differences.

 

I have discovered over the years that musical talent and bizarre behaviour are directly proportional.

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Coming late is disrespectful to teh other band members. It says your time is more important than theirs, and I don't appreciate that, as it doesn't fit with my opinion or definition of what a 'professional' is.

My run-through with my new group, btw: everyone was on time, we dumped an easy song, and learned a replacement on the fly, with no chart, just a quick listen, a description of the changes and a couple of play-throughs. No 'smoke' breaks, and I know several of the members are into that. It was a 2 hour slot in a rehearsal studio, we had 14 songs to 'gel', and we were done early.

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daddymack

 

I agree completely and I do my best when I am in a rehearsal that is efficient. Unfortunately most of the situations I come across is either too unorganized like this band, or they just ask you for way too much like the Latin band situation.

 

I recently talked a working musician who is currently living in China, and it kind of gave me interesting perspective. He told me that the working bands he is involved with do regular weekly rehearsals, and everyone contributes to making arrangements. As a result, the bands he works with is really tight. They know the music by heart and nobody is reading music. The reason they can do that in China is because the money is good over there. If people aren't willing to commit to rehearsal and contributing arrangements, there are always someone else who is willing to make that commitment.

 

This is all tied to the music scene and economic situation over there. The scene there is very big and diverse and there is a lot of money, so there is a clear distinction between high, mid and low end bands. My friend's band is considered a high end band with a reputation for providing professional attitude/quality, and there are clients who are willing pay extra for that quality. A band like the one I was involved in would be stuck scraping the low end gigs in China. The size and diversity of the market also means that you can specialize. Pop musicians would almost never do jazz or latin gig and vice versa and there is a clear distinction. My friend is doing Jazz, R&B, and rockabilly bands and make a good income performing for that niche client/audience.

 

He also said that while he is very confident about starting a band/project and make money in China, he had difficultly doing the same when he moved to other places that didn't have the kind of money/scene to support it. He said that there is no incentive to build a high end band there because you aren't going to find a niche client/audience who are willing to pay the extra for quality. Most of the acts are pretty much thrown at the last minute pick up gig. The bands aren't tight and chances are you have bands that does a little big of everything and not do any one particular thing very well. There is little to no specialized bands because the same pool of musicians are doing the jazz gig, latin gig, pop gig, rock gig.. etc. He gave up because he couldn't find people who can commit to weekly rehearsal and build for the long term, which make sense because the local musicians are used to working on predominantly short-term pick up situations.

 

I know I've gone on a tangent and I guess it's obvious that quality/professionalism of music is tied to money, but I just thought it was interesting to hear about that from someone who I actually had real-life experience with various scenes.

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There is a point where, as a performer, you need to step 'through the looking glass', and face the realities of being a professional musician, even if you are not one yet. That means being on time, being sober, being prepared and having your rig in functioning condition, having back-up gear and being able to communicate musically to all the players in the room. When that happens, things can change very quickly if you are in the right place at the right time.

It sounds to me like you are ready to take that step, if you haven't already. Look back with empathy, but know you can't let yourself fall back through.

 

I have a good friend who makes his living touring Asia [he was a bona fide'rock star' in Japan in the 70s/80s] and he has tried bringing American musicians whom we both know and had gigged with on occasion, with him on tour, but finally gave up. Why? Their work ethic was not up to the schedule of rehearsals, soundchecks, travel days, etc.

I tried to warn him ahead of time about a couple of them. Great players, but no discipline.

Now he hires local pick-up musicians, both in Japan and Hong Kong. They rehearse, etc., and are glad to get the work. Here, trying to get people to actually rehearse can be like pulling teeth, and that just kills me.

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Many of the people I used to work with in the mid to late nineties now gig in China and other parts of Asia. Some of them gig in the Middle East, where there is also good money. They still want cover and other bands in those places, but you do have to be of a certain caliber.

 

I will soften or amend my statement that rehearsals are evil. If you are working with dedicated people that have done their homework, and can learn on the fly, then as long as your are all at the same level of musicality (high, medium or low), a rehearsal can be worthwhile.

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