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Friday, December 12, 2014

Rehearsal - not for professionals?

Hi there,

When I first left my 'real' job to become a singer, I spent a lot more time rehearsing than I did performing in public. In my very first band, we would rehearse at least twice every week, for gigs that were few and far between. Now, warning bells peal if I get a call to work with a band that 'rehearses regularly'.

Now don't get me wrong, thank goodness I spent all those hours holed up in musty studios all those years ago - it's invaluable time that helps hone the craft. But when you turn professional you rarely have that luxury. Getting a group of pro musicians in the one room at the one time is difficult unless you're prepared to pay them. I probably prepare and practise more for gigs now than I ever did in those early days, but now those neural pathways are mostly forged on my own time. The rehearsal studio is the venue where all the hopefully well-practised pieces of songs come together - it's all about the polishing and the buffing.

I made the mistake once of agreeing to join a band who rehearsed every Tuesday night. I loved the concept of the band, so I jumped in. The band leader sent me a list of songs and the date and venue of the first rehearsal, so I spent some hours getting the repertoire down. I try to aim for about 80% of the final product for a rehearsal - I want to be really familiar with the melody and have the lyrics and form charted out but leave a bit of room to move for changes that invariably happen during the first run-throughs. The band leader called the first song on this first Tuesday and the guitarist asked how many bars were in the intro. Then the bass player asked if it was a single or double chorus. The piano player asked me to sing the melody of the verse so he could work it out. The drummer said 'I haven't really listened to this but I think I've heard it on the radio.' I should have listened to those bells. 

Learning is vital, preparation is critical, but they shouldn't be done when you're in the room with everyone else. Rehearsals are not for learning, not even really for practising. So what's the bottom line? Rehearsals are not for rehearsing...and always listen to bells ringing in your head.

See you next time,

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