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Rehearsal Tips

Practice makes perfect.

There's no two ways about it...Your dream gig isn't just going to happen overnight! It takes time, effort and hard work to hone your skills to a level that will warrant successful touring and great performances. This is true at any level of music, whether competing in a local battle of the bands, sitting a graded exam or auditioning for the latest chart topping artist. If you put the effort in, you will reap the rewards!

Rehearsal Rule No.1:

Be on time and always come as prepared as possible to day 1 of band rehearsals; This is not the time to learn and any blaggers will stand out like a sore thumb in a professional environment.

There is a difference between practice and rehearsal! Practice is running through the songs learning them step by step...Rehearsal is preparing for the live show – everything from choreographed movements and visuals right through to the script. Of course the scope for spontaneity will exist, but this only comes with the comfort of having a fully rehearsed and well oiled show!

Personally, I like to practice alone the weeks leading up to rehearsals and where possible, meet the Musical Director (MD) to discuss musical options and any technical information.

For example: Are we using samples or acoustics in this section? What kind of instrumentation do you want on this track? Are there any interesting arrangements that are going to be tried out? What is the provisional set list order? Etc.

(Note: In many cases the MD will also be the guy who gave you the gig by putting the band together for the artist. See Chapter 5 of The Touring Musician's Survival Guide for how to become more employable.)

If you want to maintain a good reputation, go above and beyond where possible – make your parts interesting and musical and suggest different options to the MD or artist if you think they benefit the live arrangement of the song.

Arrangements are always subject to change and new ideas will be introduced, so try not to over complicate your parts or overplay – remember your job as a musician is to support the music and the song as a whole! You also want the tour to be enjoyable, not stressful; There will be a lot of information to take on board and the last thing you want to worry about is the thing that comes easy to you. Overplaying is also detrimental to the song and just bad practice all round.

Most importantly, be flexible with a can-do attitude; This is no place to be stubborn or precious, especially if you are being paid as a session musician.

Be patient; Rehearsals can take time. There may be changes to be made to the programming if you are running backing tracks or if using in ear monitoring, there may be frequency interference issues. With lots of moving parts and with most artists using newer technologies, problems will inevitably arise – rehearsal exists to iron out creases, so you have to learn to just chill, go with it and help where possible!

Be respectful to the other musicians; Don't noodle on the guitar when somebody is talking or play a drum solo when the guitarist is running some chords. Try to avoid distractions and always be 'in the room'. Unless you are using your phone for charts or to record the rehearsal, put it away.

Guitarists, learn the drum grooves...Drummers, learn the chords. Everyone, learn the lyrics – these are tools that will help you and ensure you are fully prepared. If you've rehearsed enough, it will allow you to enjoy the show along with the audience and the other band members. If there is anything you are uncomfortable with, speak up! It's better to run and re-run the parts in a safe environment before you head out on tour. The other musicians will understand – they want this show to be as good as it can too and they will respect your eagerness to get it right. The same goes for the other members – support them if they need help.

The first show will come round at a million miles an hour and as soon as you step out on that stage, the show ain't stopping for no-one except the artist.

Production Rehearsals often happen when working for bigger artists or artists who choose to tour with their own crew; This is when Front of House engineers, Lighting Designers, Monitor Engineers, Backline Tech's etc. all prepare for the shows together as if they would on a gig scenario, sometimes renting a venue similar to the size of the rooms you will be playing.

This is when FOH and in ear mixes will be “built”, sound equipment will be tested (microphones for feedback issues, Radio frequencies and interferences etc.), guitar changes will be practiced, lighting and stage layouts will be tested...essentially all equipment and logistics that are essential to run the show in a safe environment before heading out on the road.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Taken from 'The Touring Musician's Survival Guide' - a complete guide of what to expect, to watch out for, to maintain, to do, to learn...all with the aims of making you a more well rounded, equipped and employable musician in today's industry - OUT NOW!

Written by musicians for musicians.

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