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How do you force a band to tighten up?


hugbot

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I'm thinking in terms of; if you're a guitar player and your playing is sloppy then you should go away and practise scales against a metronome for a few hours or something.

 

What can you do for a whole band? If anything? Its incredibly fustrating playing the same songs over and over and not getting any noticable improvement.

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If the work isn't getting done at home, progress is unlikely in the band room, regardless of how long you spend there.

 

How do you get people to do the work?

 

Carrots: If we raise our game, we can play at the best places in town & for more money.

 

Sticks: Start playing your parts right or GTFO.

 

:idk:

 

I've been in bands where a lot of hot air was spent over this subject. Occasionally, it led to incremental results but, generally speaking, people who want to do the work are already doing it.

 

I'm not interested in being someone else's motivational coach.

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practice at a very low volume level. Its a sure cure. It is hard to sell to a band though. You will get all kinds of reasons why the guys dont want to do it, but the bottom line is ,, that when you turn way down every booger or lack of tight will show up like a sore thumb and the band will learn to play tight. You wont ever get tight over driving a practice pad where the band sounds like 50 pounds of crap in a 20 pound bag. You just cant hear the lack of tight at those volume levels.

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A few thing that have been useful for me:

 

Record practices and listen back

Play in total darkness

Play the songs extremely slowly

Play the songs with a click

Play the songs without drums

Break songs down into individual parts and play those parts repeatedly

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What can you do for a whole band? If anything? Its incredibly fustrating playing the same songs over and over and not getting any noticable improvement.

 

 

Practicing something wrong repeatedly is worse than not practicing at all.

 

As tedious as it is, when there's a mistake or lack of tightness you need to STOP right then and there and work on just that part. Break it down to the basics, everyone else stand by or go out for a cig or beer break while the rhythm section (or whoever's not tight, could be vocal harmonies for instance) get their act together. If that takes too long, then probably the people involved need to have a separate get together to work on it.

 

This dovetails with what others have said about putting parts under the microscope. When the whole band is jamming loudly it's not so obvious what the problem is, exactly. Breaking it down to a couple of people accomplishes that.

 

If recording is "free" and fast, then it's sometimes also useful to make a quick and dirty recording with the parts on separate tracks. Solo the tracks up two at a time to see what's not working.

 

Nothing makes cluster{censored}s stand out so well as isolating the parts, whether it's by just two people playing a messed up part at rehearsal, or by recording and solo'ing parts.

 

I do both. The recording part is good for me to review later so I don't waste everyone else's time making an arrangement or identifying a problem. Sometimes I'll give someone else a "mix minus" so they can work out their part at their convenience before rehearsing with everyone else.

 

Terry D.

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Buy everyone this:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0769233775/?tag=dscsite1-20

 

And this:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Korg-MA-30-Compact-Digital-Metronome/dp/B0002E2O2Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1273164601&sr=8-1

 

That book starts with straight quarter notes. Everybody's going to think you're retarded suggesting they start tapping out quarter notes at 100 bpm. Then get everybody in the room together and watch them flounder.

 

Then watch them get better. Watch them learn how an 8th not pick up really sounds. How long a quarter note rest really is.

 

Everyone in the band should be able to lock to that metronome. There is no reading experience required because the 1st page is pretty obvious. Tap 1234. The rest comes so naturally you'll think, Why didn't I do this years ago?"

 

Quickly find out how badly you suck and quickly see how fast you improve. If you dare.

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I get the feeling sometimes that everyone is timing the song in their head instead of to the drums/rythmn section. Do you know what I mean? It's as if they are playing to the "recording" that they are running in their own mind and not listening enough to the other band members.

Familiarity with the music plays a part in this...the more you have to think about what you are playing, the less attention you are able to pay to your bandmates. Thus, lack of coordinated effort.

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A few thing that have been useful for me:


Record practices and listen back

Play in total darkness

Play the songs
extremely
slowly

Play the songs with a click

Play the songs without drums

Break songs down into individual parts and play those parts repeatedly

 

Great advice :thu:

 

Especially playing the songs slowly, breaking a problem song down to an almost goofy level of slowness has been a big help in the past.

 

And anyone who says "I can only play it fast" should be fired on the spot. :p

 

I remember a guy that was fond of starting at the end and working backwards; not playing the song backwards but chopping it up and doing it piece by piece. At first I thought he was nuts but it worked on several occasions.

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the best thing to do would be to make a rough recording of a practice. a recording speaks a thousand words. i'd much rather SHOW someone they suck than have to tell them. i also agree that sheer volume tends to hide mistakes, so i suggest doing an 'acoustic' practice every now and then to get the guitars locked tight. i'm often surprised when i hear/see guitarists who don't strum properly, i.e. using pendulum strumming. it's pretty tough to get tight if the strumming patterns aren't the same! another problem might be your drummer. if s/he's all over the place with the tempo, then of course everyone else is going to sound sloppy as well. i find a lot of drummers can be touchy about this point, but a drummer HAS to be able to follow a metronome, especially if you plan on going into a studio! a drummer that doesn't listen is doing loud exercise, not music.

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I get the feeling sometimes that everyone is timing the song in their head instead of to the drums/rythmn section. Do you know what I mean? It's as if they are playing to the "recording" that they are running in their own mind and not
listening
enough to the other band members.

Familiarity with the music plays a part in this...the more you have to think about what
you
are playing, the less attention you are able to pay to your bandmates. Thus, lack of coordinated effort.

 

 

Yeah... sorta. "the more you have to think about what you are playing, the less attention you are able to pay to your bandmates.

 

But when your clock is solid, and when your buddy's clock is solid, listening is intuitive. There's no furrowed eyebrow listening. It happens. Or it doesn't cause they're hacks.

 

First step, regardless of the issue, get your clock together. Talk around it anyway you wish but it all comes back to being uber comfortable with the clock. Your heartbeat. Then when you get 3, 4 + members doing the same... listening isn't the word. You get to experience something way beyond just listening.

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I get the feeling sometimes that everyone is timing the song in their head instead of to the drums/rythmn section. Do you know what I mean? It's as if they are playing to the "recording" that they are running in their own mind and not
listening
enough to the other band members.

 

I know EXACTLY what you mean...

There's a song in the new band where the guirtarist played the intro with no accompaniment other than my tapping quarter note time for him on my hats or snare rim.

Seemed like he was ALWAYS rushing ahead of me, and I was always fighting him on the time.

Thing is, we were playing to sequences elsewhwere in that song, so I had click in my ears, and he did not...not too hard to guess who's tempo was correct. Yet it always felt like he wasn't hearing me keep time for him...

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We don't try to force anyone to tighten up, what we do is when we hire a new member (usually a drummer) is give them the rules-

 

1. Show up when you're supposed to.

2. Do your homework, rehearsal is not learn the song time.

3. Produce results not excuses.

 

But since we are an originals only band, it's not that hard we teach them every nuance of the music as written and then give them license to put their own spin on it as long as it fits with the essence of the song.

 

If your band can't tighten up it's a lack of professional attitude and dedication, you get out what you put in.

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There has been some really strong advice given so far.

 

Obviously you need to encourage the guitarist to work on his playing at home. Do lots and lots of personal metronome work! Also, make sure he is listening and analyzing recordings of your rehearsals/gigs on a daily basis. This means taking notes on what is not working and then working specifically on those sections in his own private practice time. This is a very professional approach to improvement. If he is not willing to do this then replace him.

Another suggestion that I used to do with some of the R&B bands that I played with:

 

Everybody should play there parts in a duo situation. Record this and then listen back for rhythmic discrepencies As an example:

 

Bass/drums

guitar/drums

2nd guitar/drums

bass/guitar

bass/2nd guitar

guitar/2nd guitar

 

You could also go even deeper and just have people play with the bass drum or just the snare drum.

 

This little drill really helps people expand their overall listening concept of the whole band. Sometimes it's hard for less experienced musicians to listen to the whole band.

 

Good luck!

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Its not rocket science

 

Turn way down and play. It will be painfully obvious if anyone in the band has rhythm issues. I was faced with a start up band situation where the guys would not turn down and had rhythm issues. I solved the problem in 10 minutes. I loaded out on them. The main offender is still in the basment with pretty well a whole new group ,, still too loud and no doubt with rhythm issue.

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rhat is right - play very quietly. I too left a band after just 2 practices with them because they were simply playing too freaking loud. Recording practices works wonders. And the number 1 rule for band club is - listen.

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we started practicing quietly out of necessity of moving practice spaces from a storage unit in the middle of a large complex, to a garage in a neighborhood. we had to turn waaaay down, mute the drums and cymbals with those neoprene pads...it took EXACTLY one practice to notice we weren't nearly as good as we thought we were.

 

1. turn down. mute the drums with practice pads. guitars NO louder than a snare. bass NO louder than the kick. EVERYTHING softer than the vocals.

 

2. buy a metronome. make sure it has a way to plug into a speaker. plug it into a channel on your mixing board. make sure everyone can hear it. leave it at the practice space.

 

3. buy a whiteboard and a few markers and an eraser. write down your song titles and keep it at the practice space.

 

4. decide on a tempo for a song, and write it down! stick to it. if everyone can play together through a song, there's no reason to break it down unless there's trouble with a part.

 

good luck. some guys are more resistant to change than others.

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we started practicing quietly out of necessity of moving practice spaces from a storage unit in the middle of a large complex, to a garage in a neighborhood. we had to turn waaaay down, mute the drums and cymbals with those neoprene pads...it took EXACTLY one practice to notice we weren't nearly as good as we thought we were.


1. turn down. mute the drums with practice pads. guitars NO louder than a snare. bass NO louder than the kick. EVERYTHING softer than the vocals.


2. buy a metronome. make sure it has a way to plug into a speaker. plug it into a channel on your mixing board. make sure everyone can hear it. leave it at the practice space.


3.
buy a whiteboard and a few markers and an eraser
. write down your song titles and keep it at the practice space.


4. decide on a tempo for a song, and write it down! stick to it. if everyone can play together through a song, there's no reason to break it down unless there's trouble with a part.


good luck. some guys are more resistant to change than others.

 

 

 

 

I can see where the board could really come in handy when sheddin up a song as a band. You could use it for all kinds of things ,,,even putting up a chord bone chart if you ran into a situation where a couple guys came in after figuring out somthing on their own and ended up on different pages for chord progressions or the guy that didnt do his homework. Yea it aint right but it happens , no reason to slow the progress.. fix the problem and ram the song through the session..... Or maybe lyrics on a chorus that had multiple people singing...etc. Anything to stream line the putting it together process.

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Divide and conquer.

 

Problem: Rhythm section issues?

 

Answer: Rhythm section jam sessions, talks, motivational tactics.

 

 

Problem: Vocal issues?

 

Answer: Vocal rehearsal - karaoke, singalong to back tracks, etc

 

Bottom line is personal commitment to becoming a better musician.

 

Mistake-free football is a term I like to use in reference to consistency failures: generally a reflection of faulty technique.

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Yeah... sorta.
"the more you have to think about what
you
are playing, the less attention you are able to pay to your bandmates.


But when your clock is solid, and when your buddy's clock is solid, listening is intuitive. There's no furrowed eyebrow listening. It happens. Or it doesn't cause they're hacks.


First step, regardless of the issue, get your clock together. Talk around it anyway you wish but it all comes back to being uber comfortable with the clock. Your heartbeat. Then when you get 3, 4 + members doing the same... listening isn't the word. You get to experience something way beyond just listening.

 

TRUTH

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I can see where the board could really come in handy when sheddin up a song as a band. You could use it for all kinds of things ,,,even putting up a chord bone chart if you ran into a situation where a couple guys came in after figuring out somthing on their own and ended up on different pages for chord progressions or the guy that didnt do his homework. Yea it aint right but it happens , no reason to slow the progress.. fix the problem and ram the song through the session..... Or maybe lyrics on a chorus that had multiple people singing...etc. Anything to stream line the putting it together process.

 

I did the whiteboard deal in a previous band.

 

Don't need it now: we have a good organizer and a good system for selecting songs that doesn't cut into rehearsal time one iota.

 

Band rehearsals now consist of 100% playing music: no discussion needed, as we all know in advance which songs we will be rehearsing.

 

Less talk - more rock: but don't be stupid about it.

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