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The Bass Shack – What Not To Do At Band Practice

The Bass Shack with Eric Parsons

The Bass Shack – What Not To Do At Band Practice…

This month I thought it would be fun to talk about band practice, and specifically, my thoughts on what not do when the whole band is brought together to work on tunes, routines or whatever else needs polishing.

What could there possibly be to talk about? The concept of practice is self-explanatory, right? We all get together and ….practice! What could be easier? That’s where things might get a little bit murky.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that some rehearsals were far more enjoyable and fruitful than others. It became readily apparent that there were certain behavior patterns that could make or break a band practice. Spoiler Alert: the main impediment to having a productive band practice is almost always CONFUSION.

Each band is made up of individuals who have their own quirks, issues, and complicated lives. The band, however, is the collective soul of all these different parts striving to work together as a seamless unit. This is where the confusion set in. When at band practice, the collective is king and individual desires need to be put on the backburner. Some people are still fuzzy on this concept, so I thought I would throw out a list of guidelines for the fuzzy ones.

  1. Don’t be continually late and have everyone watch you set up your gear.
  2. Don’t show up to band practice with the intent of learning your part at band practice while everyone watches and waits. Learn your parts at home and come to practice to hone the arrangement, harmonies, etc.
  3. Don’t turn up your volume to be the loudest in the room. It’s really important that everyone be heard equally well while rehearsing. Focus on playing as an ensemble.
  4. Don’t bring your personal drama to the forefront at each practice. Hopefully, you are in a band with friendly people who really do care about you, but please wait until the end of practice to share the details.

Yes, this list could be quite a bit longer, but I’m going to stop it here. I think the point is made, when at band practice we all work best when we leave our egos at the door and focus on group goals. That being said, do you have anything you would like to add to the list?

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Mark Palmer

    September 17, 2015 at 2:30 am

    I have one to add… Assuming you don’t own the rehearsal space, at the end of the rehearsal don’t pack your own kit away then take a walk or have a smoke. Help get the rest of the gear packed and hauled – especially the poor drummer’s.

  2. Matt

    October 27, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I would like to add not noodling while other band mates are working out arrangement details. It is terribly annoying to listen to the guitarist or piano playing a riff of a totally different song while you are trying to communicate with the leader. Just a thought.

  3. Chris

    March 31, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Can you guitarists also have your tones figured out before setting up at practice, so we don’t all have to sit there for 30 minutes while you play with every single pedal?

  4. Thomas A. Susala

    June 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    All very valid comments!!
    IMHO
    I believe there should be a difference in terms made here..

    Practice is what you do at Home – learning tunes, working out ideas insofar as what voicings you’re going to use against what chord changes, playing along with recordings to familiarize your self with tunes and to make sure your equipment is in running order.

    Rehearsal is when the band assembles in a space and runs the tunes down and figures out intros, the sequencing of the tunes (verse, chorus, bridge etc), endings, and dynamics.
    It’s where the PRACTICE that was done at home is used to make REHEARSAL run smoothly and make good use of a rehearsal space (especially if you’re RENTING that space)
    it’s the place to discuss everything germane to the presentation of the tune
    It’s a place where the tune is built and polished.

    Just my $.02
    Based on my experience..

    Thanks for reading this

  5. Jerry Wills

    June 17, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Great advice! At 63 I have seen practices of all kinds. I wish this advice had been on a wall poster with a groovy backdrop when I started in the 70’s haha… Thanks for this. I’ll pass it on to those I know need to read it!

    Jerry Wills
    Bassist
    Jeff Byrd Project

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