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At what point are you over rehersing?


Mr.O

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I'm working with couple freinds on about 12 original songs and trying to add more. We want to start playing out at friends parties, small clubs who will give us a cheese burger and couple beers, nothing really serious. However, I want to be reasonably polished when we finally do it.

The bass player thinks we are over playing the set and the drummer needs a break. I think he is manic depressive. We go through the set 2 times a week. None of us grew up playing and are all on the same level, so I need the practice to feel like we have it polished. It's a little harder for me, since I have to sing and play all the guitar parts.

 

What do you guys do? How often? And so on!

 

Thanks,

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Two times a week is nothing, but for how LONG have you been doing this?

 

I know some guys have fear of putting themselves out there and for them it's NEVER "polished" enough. And the bands just rehearse forever without taking it to the next level. At some point you have to gig it. If you've been doing the 'set' twice a week for a couple of months---it's probably time to gig. If it's been a lot longer than than, then it might be time to really think about WHY you feel you need to practice it so much.

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It depends on how much you all are practicing on your own. I would be running through the set at least once a day by myself as I'm not a seasoned pro who can just go out there and nail something after only playing it half a dozen times. In any case, I would never call twice a week too much rehearsal for an original band of amateurs that is not yet gigging. All of my bands in similar situations rehearsed 2-3 times a week for a couple of months while developing the material before starting shows.

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The most frequently we ever rehearse is once a week. Aside from that I probably spend an hour or two each week running through the songs on my own. The rest of the time I pick up the guitar it's to play around with stuff I actually like or skill stuff I'm working on.

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Background: My cover band practices about once a week for 2-3 hours. We only gig about once a month and have been playing public shows only since last summer so are not that experienced. We are usually working on adding new songs to list during practices that aren't close to a public performance, but the last two practices before a gig we try to conduct them as "dress rehearsals". I am not sure that I understand what is meant by "over-rehearse". I will say though that if your group is usually pretty good at responding casually when a member flubs a cue or something, then you have a lot more margin to play less practiced material in public. I was one of those people who used to think that you couldn't play in public if you couldn't practice perfectly. The rest of the guys wanted to play live so I went with the flow, even though I didn't think we were "ready". I learned that the best way to get over the "are we ready yet?" hurdle, is to just go out there and do it. You will likely get comfortable enough that you become willing to play songs out that you might only have played together 5-6 times.

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I think that there is a distinction between "practice" and "rehearsal". Practice is what you do on your own to learn your parts; rehearsal is the time to work on playing as an ensemble. If the only time folks practice is at "rehearsal time", then twice a week isn't too much. If you can all play the tunes, you may want to actually rehearse your show or set. A straight run-thru without any more chatter than you expect in your performance is a good thing to do before you are in front of an audience. Mark C.

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As Miko said: Practice and rehearsal are two different things. In my experience, the more everyone in the band practices, the less time we have to spend rehearsing. Book some gigs, and you'll have a whole new reason to rehearse. I know going to rehearsal week after week with no gigs booked wouldn't keep my interest very long.

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Just going out on a limb here....but I'm going to guess you guys are relatively young, and haven't had a ton of gigging experience.

 

It's important to realize that "polished" doesn't mean "perfect". If it sounds reasonably tight 95%+ of the time but someone occasionally hits a bad note or blows a chord change....then I'd say you're polished enough to start playing out. The human element means that mistakes will happen from time to time; it only becomes a problem when a guy keeps making the same mistakes time and time again, and never gets any better.

 

Also, realize that rehearsal and practice can only take you so far; there's a certain tightness that can only be gained in live performance, when it counts. And you'll probably find that a handful of live shows will tighten the band up more than any amount of rehearsal.

 

Another important point is what you're playing is original material....which means your audience has never heard most or all of your music, and they have no idea what the material is supposed to sound like.....so if someone makes a mistake, they probably aren't going to notice anyway.

 

And if it makes you feel better....I heard somewhere that most people have to hear a new song 3-4 times before they remember anything about it....so if and when mistakes are made (and they will be), your audience probably won't notice them....and they certainly won't remember.

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Just going out on a limb here....but I'm going to guess you guys are relatively young, and haven't had a ton of gigging experience.


It's important to realize that "polished" doesn't mean "perfect". If it sounds reasonably tight 95%+ of the time but someone occasionally hits a bad note or blows a chord change....then I'd say you're polished enough to start playing out. The human element means that mistakes will happen from time to time; it only becomes a problem when a guy keeps making the same mistakes time and time again, and never gets any better.


Also, realize that rehearsal and practice can only take you so far;
there's a certain tightness that can only be gained in live performance, when it counts. And you'll probably find that a handful of live shows will tighten the band up more than any amount of rehearsal.


Another important point is what you're playing is original material....which means your audience has never heard most or all of your music, and they have no idea what the material is supposed to sound like
.....so if someone makes a mistake, they probably aren't going to notice anyway.


And if it makes you feel better....I heard somewhere that most people have to hear a new song 3-4 times before they remember anything about it....so if and when mistakes are made (and they will be), your audience probably won't notice them....and they certainly won't remember.

 

 

These are really insightful points.

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Another important point is what you're playing is original material....which means your audience has never heard most or all of your music, and they have no idea what the material is supposed to sound like.....so if someone makes a mistake, they probably aren't going to notice anyway.

 

 

And even if mistakes are made, if anyone in the crowd does notice it, they'll forget about it and never give it another thought.

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And even if mistakes are made, if anyone in the crowd does notice it, they'll forget about it and never give it another thought.

 

Yep.

 

And there comes a point if you gig enough where you can roll with just about anything on stage, i.e. any mistakes are subtle and immediately minimized.

 

I'm always amused playing with acoustic guitar singer songwriters. I don't need to know the song before we start. I just watch their hands and I can get to the chord they're about to play before they do. ;)

 

Terry D.

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Are the original songs recorded, at least in a worktape format recording of one of your rehearsals? If so, everyone should be doing the work at home until it's perfect, and then come to rehearsal ready to roll. Rehearsing the same 12 songs 2 times a week until it's perfect? No way. If you guys can't get it reasonable at this point then (1) people need to practice at home until they've got it right or (2) you need to work with better musicians.

 

You need to (1) make a recording of a reheasal (2) access who isn't playing the material right and (3) address the problem. Aimless rehearsal will get you nowhere.

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As Miko said: Practice and rehearsal are two different things. In my experience, the more everyone in the band practices, the less time we have to spend rehearsing. Book some gigs, and you'll have a whole new reason to rehearse. I know going to rehearsal week after week with no gigs booked wouldn't keep my interest very long.

 

 

+1 on both of these.

 

First thing I thought upon reading the OP was "under-practiced and over-rehearsed."

 

At the end of each rehearsal, you should have a list of specific things that need to be improved/corrected. These items should be corrected through individual practice by the next rehearsal, when another list of improvements gets made. If this isn't happening, more rehearsing isn't going to fix whatever problems are left. In fact, it is just as likely to reinforce the mistakes & poor execution.

 

Don't worry about being perfect. Get out and play some gigs. Record them & make your next list.

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First thing I thought upon reading the OP was "under-practiced and over-rehearsed."

 

 

Some guys do ALL their playing with others. They don't practice on their own because they can't. They are unable to keep their own time . . . w/ or w/out a metronome. There's a world of difference between playing with guys who learn the song on their own compared to guys who are following you.

 

Don't know if this is the case with the OP, but understanding how everyone else relates to keeping time has become a priority for me.

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.... Rehearsing the same 12 songs 2 times a week until it's perfect? No way.....here.

 

 

I disagree. If the band can't play the songs perfectly (as in, ready to record) in rehearsal, with no mistakes, then more rehearsal is needed. If individuals don't know or remember their parts or don't HAVE a part then it's personal home woodshedding time.

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As Miko said: Practice and rehearsal are two different things. In my experience, the more everyone in the band practices, the less time we have to spend rehearsing. Book some gigs, and you'll have a whole new reason to rehearse. I know going to rehearsal week after week with no gigs booked wouldn't keep my interest very long.

 

 

 

This - I wouldn't even consider a band if it couldn't be out gigging in a month or two, tops... Also, I have little patience for people who don't do their "homework", and waste my time during rehearsals - you practice on your own time, rehearse with your band... During that month or two I mentioned, once ot twice per week, 2-4 hours each time should be sufficient, if everyone's got their act together - if not, I would address those issues probably by the end of the 1st month... I play plenty of fill-in gigs with other bands, where I go in stone cold - no rehearsal - and make sure I know the material in advance... It's always been my contention that if everone knows their parts, you *should* be able to do that...

 

 

 

- georgestrings

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Some guys do ALL their playing with others. They don't practice on their own because they can't. They are unable to keep their own time . . . w/ or w/out a metronome. There's a world of difference between playing with guys who learn the song on their own compared to guys who are following you.


Don't know if this is the case with the OP, but understanding how everyone else relates to keeping time has become a priority for me.

 

 

I don't agree with this - with all the tools available today, there is absolutely no reason why a person can't practice on their own time... After all, mp3 players and portable recorders aren't all that expensive any more - and are pretty much a necessity if you're playing in an original band... If you're playing in a cover band, an mp3 player, headphone amp, and an email account will get you pretty far...

 

 

- georgestrings

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Some guys do ALL their playing with others. They don't practice on their own because they can't. They are unable to keep their own time . . . w/ or w/out a metronome. There's a world of difference between playing with guys who learn the song on their own compared to guys who are following you.


Don't know if this is the case with the OP, but understanding how everyone else relates to keeping time has become a priority for me.

 

 

I've been playing in bands for almost 30 years and never encountered someone who wasn't capable of independently working on material/skill. Can't say that I'd have the patience to deal with that long-term.

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This - I wouldn't even consider a band if it couldn't be out gigging in a month or two, tops... Also, I have little patience for people who don't do their "homework", and waste my time during rehearsals - you practice on your own time, rehearse with your band... During that month or two I mentioned, once ot twice per week, 2-4 hours each time should be sufficient, if everyone's got their act together - if not, I would address those issues probably by the end of the 1st month... I play plenty of fill-in gigs with other bands, where I go in stone cold - no rehearsal - and make sure I know the material in advance... It's always been my contention that if everone knows their parts, you *should* be able to do that...




- georgestrings

 

 

I agree, and all true, for cover bands, except that the OP's band is working on original music.

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