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10 ways to make your rehearsal sessions as productive as possible.

By Jimmy Mulvihill. 27th January 2023.
From 1989-2022 there were x7 #1 albums that were either written, demoed, rehearsed or recorded at Bally Studios - with another album likely entering the charts in the Top #10 this very week - and between them they've sold 13 million copies, but these sessions are in the vast minority. Most sessions that take place here are by bands who don’t earn any money from their music, and they most likely never will. That's not a judgement on these bands and it doesn't devalue these sessions, it's just the barefaced realities of the music industry.

We once had a band use the studios as a venue for a social gathering, who came into the office to pay at the end of their session at the same time that a quite well-known band was rehearsing in another studio. The band member of the non-professional band put their empty coffee cups down on the desk, swayed back and forth ever so slightly from the many beers that they’d had in their session, and listened to the music coming through the door that had been left slightly ajar down the corridor, in silence. They then tilted their head and said…… “is that a covers band?! That sounds a lot like <semi-famous band>”. Upon me telling them that it was the actual band in question, he paused for a few seconds, let out a long sigh and said, “wow, I didn't realise they rehearsed here, that’s mad! I’d love to get to the stage where you get paid to rehearse and play music. That must be incredible, eh? That’s the dream...... ” Despite the positive nature of what they were talking about their voice sounded deflated, almost defeated. We both listened to the music for a few more seconds before they remembered why they were in the office, upon which they paid and left.
20 minutes later the guitarist from the established band came into the office, drenched in sweat. He went to the fridge to grab a bottle of water, he put the kettle on, and as it was boiling I asked how things were going? He sighed slightly, rubbed his face with his hands, and said, “Yeah, okay….. good, good. I mean…. Yeah, it’s good, it’s going well, but we’ve spent the whole day working out lighting cues with the lighting engineer for the tour, and now we’re checking pre-set triggers to make the production of the gig smoother. It’s okay, you know, I’m not complaining, it’s just that….." He sighed, and continued, ".....I sometimes wish we could go back to how we used to rehearse, just playing music and things like that, without this circus around us. This is all necessary, but it’s just very….. boring and draining, it's so regimented, it’s not why I wanted to join a band, put it that way.” The last sentence was said with a tired laugh. I told them what the other band member had said 20 minutes earlier, to which his eyes opened widely, his hands went up in a defensive position and he said “no, completely, I get it, don’t get me wrong, we’re very grateful to be in the position we’re in, believe me! It’s just hard at times I guess……”. He tailed off, shrugged his shoulders, made the cups of coffee for him and his bandmates and strolled back to the studio, or as he called it, “the office, nose to the grindstone, and all that!”, with a subtle wink in my direction. Both of the people I had spoken to were envious of the position that the other one was in.

The bands that rehearse at Bally Studios will usually do so for one of two reasons. They may be working towards a target like an important gig, a recording session, a song they're writing, or developing the structure of their songs, in which case they'll try to be focused and aim to work hard. In each of these examples the success of the session depends on what they achieve in it. Alternatively many bands come to us to enjoy the actual process of playing music for its own reward, without any additional targets to be met. They’ll use the session as a social gathering, bring cans of beers and leave 10 minute gaps between songs whilst they chat with each other and enjoy each other’s company. They’ll have fun and play the same songs that they’ve played for the last few years, with little progress made, but they’ll enjoy themselves. At times it’s more common to hear the sound of laughter from these sessions than it is to hear a bassline. It costs them about £15 each for the hire of the studio for 6 hours and an extra £10 for 6-8 cans of beers. They may even have a pizza or two delivered to the studio. It’s actually a much cheaper night out than going to the pub would be, and their rehearsals are as unfocused as you could possibly imagine. After 40 hours a week staring at a spreadsheet in the office, that’s all part of the fun. I can say with 100% sincerity that, in my opinion, both of these type of sessions hold exactly the same value. We’re going through an unprecedented mental health crisis at present, and band rehearsals help to combat that in ways that no other activity can. They are a way to connect with the people you love in a way that is deeper than can ever be explained. It’s a physical workout, it’s a form a creative expression, it’s a form of therapy, it gets the mind and the body working in one, and there’s few things that snap you out of a bad mood than playing great music really loud through a 4,000 watt PA system. You can have the same amount of fun as a night out, yet have something to show for it at the end of it in the form of a new song written, or a tighter band. That's why I set up a rehearsal studios when I was 22 years old – in my mind band rehearsals were the best activity imaginable, and I’m grateful every day to still be doing this job.

Every single one of the 40,000 sessions that we’ve had at the studios fell somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes; between the sessions being fun or work. From the head or from the heart. Between creative freedom or logistical planning. If you’re in a band that comes to Bally Studios to have fun, (or to any other rehearsal studios for that matter), don’t overthink it. Whatever happens, happens, you don’t need to be given advice on how to make these sessions more rewarding. The less you think about it, the more the session will fall into it’s own groove. Enjoy them; life can be hard enough as it is without overthinking how to have fun.

However, for bands that have a target and who want their sessions to be as productive as possible, it is vital that the band is focused and has a plan as to what they want to get out of their session. After all, if they don’t know what they want to achieve, how are they going to achieve it? This guide has been put together for this objective and is based on real world experience. We’ve compared the approaches that bands that came to us have had, and paths have been drawn between their approach and their later success, or non-success. There’s no point learning things the hard way, why not learn from the results of others?

If you want your sessions to be as productive as possible, here’s 10 things you need to think about.
1) Start your session on time.

It sounds blindingly obvious, but if you turn up 30 minutes late for a 4 hour rehearsal, that’s 1/8th or 12.5% of of the session written off. About 20% of sessions at Bally Studios have had at least one band member turn up 30 minutes or more late due to a reason that could have been avoided. If there are band members that are habitually late, look for a solution to this problem such as changing the time of the session, or moving the rehearsal to a different day that has a more accommodating schedule. If a member of the band is late from coming direct from work or having a longer journey, maybe another member who drives can pick them up from the tube station? You may also consider introducing a James Brown-style fine system where band-members chip in to the band kitty/beer fund if they are late.

The best change you can make in this respect is to change your attitude, and to set higher standards for timekeeping. I’ve personally seen a band who had a very big support slot for a gig in Brixton book a session for 6pm – 11pm, where the last band member turned up at 7:45pm, then made a coffee for themselves and then strolled into the studio to be met with the greeting of, “alright mate, how you doing?”, despite their very late arrival. Nobody cared that they were late, so they never made an effort to be on time. We also had a band that booked out a studio on a 24/7 basis for 2 months who would rehearse from 10am – 7pm, 6 days a week, sometimes leaving a few hours early on the Saturday and only taking Sunday off. At 10:05am the main songwriter was pacing the main corridor, with 2 of the rest of the band in the studio. Finally the last member arrives only 5 minutes late, but jogging up the corridor towards him saying, “I know, I know, I’m late, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…..” They were visibly out of breath, and although the band leader was a very friendly and polite person, he look he gave his fellow band member for his tardiness left him in no doubt that arriving late was not an option.
In one scenario the band knew that lateness was unacceptable, and as a result they were only late once or twice in 8 weeks. In the other the band was so relaxed that lateness became the standard. Changing your attitude to being late for your session is the best thing you can do to improve your timekeeping. Whatever the solution is, make sure you acknowledge it as an issue that needs to be addressed.

If there is an unexpected event which cases a band member to be late, make use of the time to come into the office and pay for your rehearsal in advance to save time later on, to book future sessions, or ask the studio staff to use this time to explain how the mixing desk works, which may reduce the time lost in other session. Ask to check out other empty studios in the studio complex, or ask studio staff members for information they may have come across, such as what venues or music promoters other bands have recommended to them, or which ones to avoid. All of these activities are much better uses of your time than spending the time sitting on your phone and reading Twitter.
2) Accept that there’s a limit to what can be achieved in your session. Many bands will rehearse intensively over many sessions, and soon they’ll reach the stage where they know the songs inside out, to the point where they no longer need to think while playing them. That’s the ultimate goal - to not only practice until you get it right, but until you can’t get it wrong. At this point the band often starts to focus on tiny aspects of each of the songs, such as whether you use a crash cymbal or a splash single on a single fill, what kind of synth setting to use in a bass note, and whether to bend a note or hammer it on. We’ve seen whole sessions that were spent on these tiny aspects, and whilst these elements can make a bit of a difference in the overall song, there also comes a point when the band is simply changing the music, as opposed to making it better. This process is often more for the bands benefit, and less for the song’s benefit. Back in the 1960’s, before a time of high quality recording devices and the internet, bands would routinely play songs many times in their gigs before recording them. (Neil Young was playing his 1975 album “Tonight’s The Night” in full on his 1973 tour.) Playing a song in a studio with only the band members present is completely different to playing it to a live audience, where the band gets a whole new perspective to it. If you’ve ever played a song that you’ve recorded to a friend you’ll know what it’s like: You’ve spent weeks working on the song, getting every part of it just right, and then as you hit PLAY a whirl of questions pop into your head; “was the intro always this long?!”, “does that acoustic guitar sound out of tune?!”, or “is that snare drum too loud?!”

When you’ve written a song you’ll understand the context of how each of the parts fits together, and at times your brain will fill in the blanks, but when you play it to someone else you’ll suddenly start to hear it through their ears, and this is the biggest limitation to what you can do in your rehearsal. The music may sound fantastic within those 4 walls, and if you’re writing music with the sole view to it being listened to only by the band then you’ll have achieved your aim. If you want the music to be listened to by a paying audience, then there comes a point where progress can only be made by playing it to them and seeing what their response is.
If you spend a month working on a section of a song where the excitement and tension of the song builds for 4-5 minutes, and then you notice that half of the audience pops off to the bar when this part is played live, you can either take that feedback or leave it. Either way, the feedback that you get in those 4-5 minutes will give you x1000 times the information that you could ever have got from a rehearsal session. By all means, you may want to disregard it – you may feel that you’re the band, you know how the songs need to sound, so why should you be taking feedback from an audience which is mostly made up of people who don’t write music themselves, and thus have less understanding of the intricacies of song construction? If that’s the approach you want to take then that’s your choice, absolutely, but you also need to accept that if this is the path that you’re going to go down, then you’re writing music for yourself first and foremost. There’s nothing wrong with that, but under those circumstances don’t be surprised if it doesn't connect with the audience as much as it does with you. Work out now – what are you trying to achieve with these songs? If you want to creative an artistic statement that is true to your own muse, and if you want it to be an expression of who you are/were at the the time it was recorded, then by all means keep those rehearsal sessions going as long as you need to. If, however, you are rehearsing those songs with a view to them being heard by others, and if your final objective is based around those songs connecting with the public, then at some point you’ll need to play those songs to others in order for you to work out how close you’re getting to that goal, and incorporate that into your sessions. Whether that means playing them live, or putting out a basic demo, you can then come back into the studio and build on that feedback.
3) Record your sessions and study them between sessions. Recording your sessions is one of the best things that you can do to make your rehearsal sessions as productive as possible. Whether you do it by putting a stereo microphone or your phone in the middle of the room, or by miking up all of the instruments individually, whatever you invest into it will be returned to you in multiples. Bally Studios currently offers an 8-track recorder and all of the microphones you need that can be hired by the bands that come to us for as little as £59 a month/£29 a session on top of the price of your sessions, and the difference in the productivity in the sessions of the bands that use it, compared to the bands that don’t, is dramatic. A less obvious benefit is the effect that recording your sessions has on your focus levels. Bands can suddenly click into a much more productive mode once the little red “recording” light goes on, much like in the same way that going to a spinning class or hiring a personal trainer can make for a much more intensive workout, or like how a competitive match of football will be played at a higher level than a casual training match. People are always a lot more focused when they know that there’ll be a permanent record of the event that’s taking place, and this is certainly the case when a rehearsal session is recorded. On a practical level too, the benefits are numerous. Let’s say that you’re a guitarist who is looking to practice a guitar solo or write a new riff to push the song to new heights. Instead of asking the band to play the same song over and over again while you try out new ideas, you can ask them to play the song once, then take the recording home, mute the microphone that was placed on your personal guitar amplifier, and try out as many new ideas as you want in your own time, without being charged by the hour or having the rest of your band-mates tell you that it’s time to get on with other songs instead. You can use the recordings made in the rehearsal as a songwriting tool in your home, and then send the overdubs that you record in your bedroom to your band mates ahead of time so that you can use the next rehearsal session as a time to test and perfect those changes, as opposed to it being used to explain and teach brand new ideas.

There are numerous aspects that have a huge effect on a song, and its just not possible to concentrate on all of them at the same time in a rehearsal session, so recording your session allows you to focus on them one by one. By recording your session you can load it into a basic freeware software and change the tempo of the song slightly to see how the song works when it’s slightly sped up or slowed down. Sometimes changing the speed by even a few BPM’s can have a massive effect on the song, and if the band is still at the stage of perfecting their individual parts of the song, it can sometimes be easy for each band member to be so focused on their own parts that they don’t concentrate on the song as a whole. Recording the session allows you to do so in the time between sessions.
Many bands drink alcohol during their sessions which clouds their judgement as to how well the session went, so reappraising your performance the following day with a clean head allows you to get a much better impression of successful the session was. It’s also a great way to find out what aspects of the song are clashing with each other. Ideas for backing vocals can be played with, and if the guitars are recorded without effects on a spare channel you can then try different effects by using a DAW recording software. A guitarist may be happy to spend 6 hours trying out different guitar/amps/pedal settings at home, but you’re unlikely to find a bassist, drummer and singer who are happy to do the same in a rehearsal session. Finally, it is a source of constant amazement to me how many non-singing band members there are that don’t fully understand the lyrics to their own songs. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they don’t write or sing the lyrics themselves, and as a result they slightly disconnect themselves from that part of the song. Along comes the mixing stage of the recording process, and suddenly these band members are exchanging nervous glances with each other when the vocals are solo’d and they can hear each and every word of the lyrics. I’ve been in mixing sessions where the other band members can suddenly hear that their singer is pouring their heart out in their songs about devastating events from their past, or where the lyrics were focused on political philosophies that were likely to take the attention away from the bands music. I’ve also been in sessions where the other band members suddenly realised that whilst the lyrics may have been a complete afterthought to them, it appears that the same applied to the person writing them. In these cases the lyrics lack focus, contradict themselves and sometimes don’t make any sense at all. Upon the lyricist being asked about this, I’ve heard one singer say, “they were just placeholder lyrics until I could think of something better and then I………. (pause)……. didn’t think of anything better. You didn't mention anything, so I thought you liked them?”

Remember, many band members are focusing on their own parts in a rehearsal session and if the PA system isn't loud enough, it can be tough for other band members to hear the vocals with clarity. Recording your rehearsal session and going over those recordings between sessions allows you to give each and every aspect of each and every song the level of attention that it deserves. A 4 hour rehearsal session can then spawn a 10+ evaluation session. Once that song is recorded it’s going to exist forever, so make sure that you give every part of the song the level of attention and scrutiny it needs, at the stage when it is still possible to change it. Recording your session allows you to do this.
4) Are there any outside circumstances that will affect the band’s productivity?

In 2008, we had an occasion where 5 bands were present for the evening session, and 4 of them had band members, 7 in total, that either supported Manchester United or Chelsea. We know this as it happened to be the very night that the Champions League final took place between…. Manchester United and Chelsea. Only one band that night actually managed to get through a full rehearsal. Two bands managed 30 minutes, with another two bands managing slightly more. Instead of being in the studio practising, band members were huddled around the TV in the office watching the action unfold. Fun was had by all of them (albeit more for the fans of the winning team) and it was cheaper than a pub, but musical productivity that night was at an all time low. If that’s what you want then great, we’re all for that, but if you want a productive session then make sure that there are no factors that will distract you during your session.

We’ve had bands book rehearsal sessions for 10am on a Saturday or Sunday, and although band members turned up for their rehearsal, there were clearly severely hungover. Sales of earplugs and bottled water soared, with the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the office all day. I personally remember a session where a band member was on his phone to the girlfriend repeatedly during the 8 hour session as she was putting in an offer on behalf of both of them on a property that day, with the rest of his band members being visibly frustrated at him not being able to focus on the rehearsal.
There was an acoustic rehearsal booked where a band member had previously gone to an extremely loud gig the night before, and had a ringing in their ears so strong it affected the rehearsal, as well as the band rehearsal which happened on a Sunday where one band member came straight from work having worked a 70 hour week that week as a junior doctor. They were literally falling asleep while playing keyboards, much to the chagrin of their band-mates. We’ve seen band members needing to collect kids from schools, band members who have shared custody of their kids needing to leave early/arrive late, people coming back from their holiday who had jet lag, band members recovering from operations, and members being stressed from an up and coming deadline at work, all of which put a limit on what could be achieved in those sessions.
In each and every example, a few minutes spent planning these sessions in advance could have prevented a lot of frustration later one. Make sure that you plan ahead so that there are no distractions at all that will eat into the time that you’ve set aside to rehearse.

5) Ask the studios staff for help to make your sessions productive.

It is inevitable that some time will be lost during your rehearsals due to breaks, setting up and packing down of equipment, and general chitchat. Whilst you’ll never get 4 hours of complete productivity from a 7pm – 11pm slot, there are other factors that may slow down your rehearsal that, by planning ahead, can be avoided simply by asking the staff at your rehearsal studio for their help. Speaking personally, whenever a band calls up and asks for little things to be done in advance to help make their sessions more productive, I not only see it as part of the job, but I welcome the fact that I can get these tasks completed in advance, in a time where there aren’t 5 bands leaving and another 5 bands arriving for their sessions at the same time, with them each needing my attention. Having spoken to many other reputable rehearsal studio owners, most of them usually feel the same way. I would go so far as to say that if you get any kickback on this from the studios staff, or if you get a reaction that isn’t overwhelmingly positive, then it may be worth questioning whether the rehearsal studio is really worth using. That’s part of the service that you are paying for.

If you’d prefer to use a certain guitar amplifier, call ahead to ask that it be put in your studio ahead of time. If your drummer is left-handed, ask the studio if it is possible to set-up the drum kit for a left-handed drummer. Naturally there will be some fine-tuning to do when the drummer gets to the studio, but if the studio staff are able to swap over the toms, hi hat, snare and cymbal stands, it will save precious time. If your drummer requires cymbals, call ahead to ask if they can be put onto the drum kit in advance. If you have 4 or more vocalists in a band, make sure that 4 vocal mics are ready for you. If you have an acoustic guitar, check if the studio staff know whether it is better to put the acoustic guitar through an acoustic guitar amp, a DI box or directly into the PA system. They may be small jobs to do, but when you have 10 of them that each take 1-2 mins, that'll be 10-20 mins saved. Once you have a list of these small things, give it to the studios so that they have a record of them and can do as much of them as possible before they get there. We have a system for this exact purpose at Bally, where we record all of the small details that makes each band set up a bit different, and we then try to get as many of them done as possible, in advance.

I can safely say from personal experience that it is also a great help for the studios when bands are more specific in advance. The majority of the evening rehearsals are booked from 7pm to 11pm, so the more information that band members can give in advance, the less work will need to be done at the same time. From approximately 6:00pm to 7:15pm, it is usually the most chaotic time, with bands leaving their earlier sessions, rehearsal studios needing to be vacuumed, cables that need to be checked, band members to be welcomed and cups of tea to be made. A band that calls ahead to request a specific amp, to let me know that they have a keyboard player who needs a keyboard stand, or to say that they will have an acoustic guitar and a fourth vocalist, will be helping us as it means that we can start preparing for them as soon as the band before them leaves, which is usually at about 6pm, at which point I have a whole hour to get these tasks done at a time when there’s no or few bands there. It’s much better to hear it then rather than at 7:05pm, the exact time that 5 bands are all starting their sessions at once, with them all needing things done.

The help from the studio staff shouldn't stop once the rehearsal starts. It is a lot more productive to simply pop into the office and ask the studio staff for help instead of spending 15 minutes trying to work out how to get reverb on only two vocal mics but not the third one. Rehearsal studio staff have “feelings” for bands that randomly press buttons on mixing desks, which may cause a speaker to blow, and are much, much happier showing the bands how the reverb works instead, which will save the band a lot of time in the long run, as well as helping the rehearsal studio save a lot of money on blown speakers.

If the equipment you’re using develops any problems, tell the studios staff know straight away so that they can swap it over for something that works, and so that they can keep on top of any repairs that need to be done. You’re helping the studios out, and you’ll also get the most out of your session. I’ve spoken to bands who have come into their session to find a new amplifier in place who said, “yeah, we had a few problems with the other one over the last few weeks,” but they never let us know about this for fear that we would assume it was them that caused the issue. Bands should never, ever do this. Remember, amplifiers will be fine one minute, and 5 mins later can develop a fault, it’s just the way it goes. Every amp will break at some point, and studio staff are not psychic, we can't predict when an amplifier will break, and it might well break in your session. I mean, it has to break at some point! By letting them know that an amp is playing up as soon as possible you'd be helping the studio staff out, and you’d be making sure you’re getting the most out of your session.

Never ever be worried about asking your studio’s staff members for help, or checking if any better equipment is available if it is needed. As long as it is not running to spinal tap-esque standards, (like your bread is too small for your ham, or the skittles in the bowls seem to be all mixed up and not separated by colour) there is never anything wrong with asking the studio staff to help you get the most out of your session. If you feel that there is, then you may be going to the wrong studios.

6) Plan your rehearsal sessions.

Take a few minutes before each rehearsal to organize everything. This will dramatically improve how productive you are, and ensure that as little time as possible is wasted. The first question to ask is whether the rehearsal is actually necessary? Many bands get into the habit of rehearsing in their weekly slot, booking weeks in advance, but there are certain circumstances where booking a band rehearsal may be more of a force of habit rather than a necessity.

If the band is rehearsing before any members take a prolonged break, then there are scenarios in which it's debatable as to whether the rehearsal will actually achieve anything at all. If the band is writing new songs or developing song structures then the rehearsal will likely be very useful, and may definitely be justified, but if the rehearsal is just to keep tight as a band, then any progress made in that session may be lost in the period that the band is not rehearsing immediately afterwards.

Likewise if the band has one main songwriter that usually brings new material to the band to flesh out later, and if they don’t have much new material to draw on at the moment, then it may be best that the band waits until there’s more material to work with, before coming together as a band in the studio. If three members of a six piece band want to work on harmonies, is it necessary for the other 3 members to be there when they’re doing that? If the other band members are able to make contributions then great, go for it, but there are some sessions when half of the band needs to focus on a really crucial part of a song, where the other half of the band has little to do, which causes them to get bored from the lack of anything to contribute to, with that then causing impatience and, in turn, stress to the other half of the band who needs to focus. These factors will vary from band to band and only you will know what applies to your band. Work out what you want to achieve in your rehearsal session at the time that you book it, and be very clear as to what this is with the rest of the band; different members may be working under different assumptions as to what they want to get out of their practice session. Don’t book the session and then find a use for it, work out what you want to achieve, and then book your session accordingly. If there’s a disagreement as to what you need to do, settle that disagreement first and then book the session. Once you’re all in agreement as to what your overall objective is, then decide if you have all of your ‘ducks in a row’ first to make sure that you’ll get out what you put into it. By all means, if you want to have a fun rehearsal then knock yourself out, go for it, there are few better things you can do with your free time that have fun in a rehearsal studios, and it’s much cheaper than the cinema, but if you have a definite target in mind as to what you want to get out of the session, try to anticipate in advance what else needs to happen before that session for you to be in a good position to achieve your objective, or whether there are any other factors that may stop you from doing so. There’s nothing wrong with having a session with no focus, so long as that’s what you want to have. The problem is when you book asession with one objective, and without realizing it you slip into a mode of working that doesn’t align with that.

7) Rehearse under real gig conditions.
If you’re rehearsing for a gig, this means more than just practicing how to play your songs. Make sure you set aside time to prepare for EVERYTHING that you hope to achieve by factoring in the whole setup and every individual detail of the gig, including preparing what will happen if things go wrong.
Band changeovers: Most gigs have 30-40 minutes of playing time, with a 15-20 minute change time between different band’s sets, so try arranging in advance with the promoter to see if you can stretch our your gig by an extra 5-10 minutes if you’re able to have your equipment set up within 5-7 minutes of the previous band coming off stage, with your band using the time that you’ve saved on the changeover to play an extra song. If the whole point of your rehearsals are so that you can get the most out of your gigs, and if working on setting your equipment up as quickly as possible allows you to do that, then it’s well worth the time practicing this in your rehearsal session in the same way that a Formula One team practices their pit-stops.
As a former live sound engineer, there were numerous gigs I worked at where 4 out of 5 band members were ready to go quite quickly, and then they spent the next 5-8 minutes staring at the final band member who was rushing to finish setting up their much more elaborate equipment set-up. In most cases the drummer needs to set up the most equipment, and the lead singer the least. If the lead singer is therefore able to learn how to set-up parts of the drum kit, it will be one less thing that the drummer has to do at the gig and will dramatically speed up the changeover. There are so many easy lessons that can be learned, such as - how to put a cymbal on a cymbal stand with the washers, felts and wing-nuts in place - which cymbals go on a straight or boom stand - how to fix a hi-hat clamp to the top hi-hat cymbal - how to fix the bass drum pedal in place. - how to pack away the drum flight cases quickly, packing them into each other and moving them somewhere where they’re not in the way of a fire exit. These are all things that MUST be done before the band starts their set, so if the singer learns these lessons in advance it will take the pressure off of the drummer to do all of these tasks, and the band can either be ready quicker, allowing them to rest for a few minutes before they start their first song, they’ll be less stressed when they start, or the changeover can be much quicker and the band can start their set sooner. All of these scenarios are likely to help the band play a better set, and it only takes the lead singer to learn a few simply set up techniques. If you are a guitarist with pedals, buy a pedal board case. Make a note of which band members take the longest time setting up, and which band members are ready first, and make a plan so that the band members with time on their hands can help out the band member in most need of help, and use the time in your rehearsal sessions to practice this.
Practice using your equipment.
Make sure you rehearse with EXACTLY the same setup in your rehearsal sessions as you’ll use in your gigs. It isn't the best idea to suddenly announce 20 minutes before the gig that you have just bought a new distortion pedal without fully testing it in advance. If it takes 5 minutes to work out the kinks with that pedal, do it in your rehearsal session so that any potential problems can be ironed out in advance. The rehearsal session is not just about getting the songs sorted, but also the sound of the band.
Practice swapping your guitars/instruments. So you’ve planned ahead and got a spare guitar to hand in case a string breaks? Great! Now, have you actually practiced what would happen if you did snap a string mid song? As silly as it sounds, practicing this changeover is actually really useful to do in a rehearsal session. As a former lead guitarist, I once had to change over my guitar mid song, swapping from a Strat to my back up guitar, a Les Paul. As I did so, the volume and the tone of the new guitar were so different that I then had to work out in real time how to balance out the sound to make it fit into the song, at exactly the time that 120 people were staring at me. The guitar strap was not set to the correct length either, and I needed to plug cables in and out. It was not pleasant, I can tell you. After that experience I then worked out that I’d need to apply a slight volume boost and an EQ boost in the 6KhZ range to match up the tone of the Les Paul to my Strat as much as possible, so I bought a second EQ pedal and put it in my guitar pedal board with those settings compensated for on the pedal. I also had both my main guitar and the backup guitar plugged into a A/B/Y guitar pedal, in which both guitars were plugged into the same guitar pedal, with the signal then being sent to the rest of my pedals. (It was a reverse splitter pedal, funnelling both guitars into the same signal chain, with an A-B switch deciding what guitar was active.) The guitar strap on both guitars was set to the exact length I needed, and the volume on my back up guitar was set to zero, with the back up guitar being fully tuned. When a string finally went at another gig about 2 months later, within a second of it happening I had pressed the A/B/Y pedal so that the signal being sent to the amplifier was changed from the main guitar to the back up guitar, the volume of which was set to zero. I put down my main guitar on the stand that had been prepared in advance and I picked up a fully tuned and fully set up back up guitar, with the strap already at the perfect length. I pressed the “2nd guitar EQ” pedal to compensate for the tone, giving me just the right amount of volume boost and EQ boost I needed, and turned up the volume of the back up guitar, and within 5 seconds or so the changeover was done, completely. I didn’t need to plug anything in or out, I just needed to press the A/B/Y pedal to turn off the 1st guitar and turn on the second in a split second, and the boost from the “2nd guitar EQ” pedal made all of the changes I’d need in an instant. 2 pedals pressed, a guitar taken off and another put on, but I didn’t need to plug anything out or in, didn’t need to change tone or volume, and I didn’t need to run off to grab it out of a guitar case 20 metres from the stage and then tune it. (Yes, I’ve seen this happen.) It took about 20 minutes to prepare for this in the rehearsal studio, and a few other purchases to work out that changeover, but it reduced the changeover time from about 45 seconds to less than 10 seconds, and the fact that I had practiced the changeover so many times in the rehearsal room meant that when a string did go I knew EXACTLY what I was doing, and the changeover was quick and stress free. Here’s how to do it in a rehearsal. Play one song where 30 seconds into it the bassist has to change their bass to their back up one, then a minute later at 1:30 the lead guitarist needs to change their guitar, and then a minute later at 2:30 the rhythm guitarist has to do it. Practice it a few times until the process is so seamless that barely anyone will notice if a string does go during a gig.
Prepare for unexpected changes in band dynamics. If you’re a 4/5 piece band with 2 guitarists, and if the rhythm guitarist's guitar develops a problem during the set, does the lead guitarist keep on playing lead guitar for the 30 seconds that it takes for the guitar to be swapped over for a new one, or do they now fill in on rhythm? This is something that many bands never consider, but it’s a really interesting question. I’ve been sound engineer at a gig where the rhythm guitarist was playing chugging, distorted, beefy chords during a song, with the lead guitarist playing delicate pinched harmonics over it. The rhythm guitarist then had a fault with their guitar and had to swap it over, (which took over a minute) , and suddenly there was this huge spectral hole in the middle of the song where the rhythm guitarist was that now there was just….. nothing. It completely changed the whole sound of the song. The pinched harmonics worked really well over the “wall of noise” that the fuzzed up, distorted rhythm guitarist was previously creating, but less so when there was a bassist playing single clean notes. Within a few seconds the lead guitarist realized that this was the case and they switched to playing the chords themselves, but they’d never played rhythm guitar on this song, so they didn’t know the exact chords, which made for an excruciating experience as they tried to work out what they were. If the 2 guitarists had planned for this in advance then then would have been prepared to know what would happen if this exact scenario raised it’s head, but they never did, and so they were left to work it out on-the-fly, in front of a bemused audience who wasn’t sure what was happening. I’ve played in bands myself as a lead guitarist where I also learned all of the chords to the song and had an octave bass pedal in my pedalboard so that if the bassist had any issues with their bass, I could engage the octave pedal to bring my guitar down 2 octaves, and fill in on the bass for 30 seconds while they changed over their bass guitar, with me sticking to the root note of the chords. It was good enough to fill in for the low end for those 30 seconds, but not too good that the bassist was deemed superfluous to requirements at subsequent gigs. Losing the bass guitar can be a lot more noticeable in a song than losing the lead guitar, especially during the verses and at a time when there’s no guitar solo, so it makes sense to quickly switch the sound to fill in on the more important bass whilst the bassist is changing over their bass guitar, and it will take the pressure off of them considerably. If you have a lead singer who doesn’t play an instrument, as well as having another member who sings backing vocals, why not try to have a rehearsal where the backing vocalist takes over the lead vocals for the whole set so that if the lead singer were to develop a problem with their voice on the day, the band is prepared and has options. At the very least they’ll know whether it’s an option or not to use the band’s backup vocalist. It won’t be as good as with the lead singer, naturally, but now you at least have the choice as to whether to play a compromised gig, or no gig at all. If you prepare for this possibility in advance then at least you have that choice to make. If you don’t prepare for this then you could be forced to make that decision without ever having tried promoting your backing singer to lead vocals, right at a very stressful time with a tight time limit, in which case you have no idea how it will go.

Back in 1996 Oasis were due to play MTV’s Unplugged event, and minutes before the band was due to go on lead singer Liam Gallagher suddenly decided that he couldn’t perform. As this video shows, backing vocalist Noel Gallagher was forced to step in and take over lead vocals, and a successful gig was played and recorded, later to be seen by millions of people.

To get the full context of how important this gig was, in the years running up to this gig acts like Nirvana, Aerosmith, Paul McCartney, REM and Mariah Carey had played the “MTV Unplugged…..” series, and it was seen either as a big boost to an already successful act, or pivotal part of a band’s climb up the ladder in the lucrative American market. Oasis’s ability to play a gig with their back up vocalist not only saved the gig that night, ensuring that the 2,700 people in the audience didn’t go home disappointed, but it meant that the record label representing the band knew that there were back up contingency plans in place in case anything were not to go to plan in future. This is especially important for band that is looking to get signed by a record label, as – economically - there’s a huge economic difference between needing to refund the tickets from a canceled gig, or playing a gig with a different vocalist. If the band rehearsal is meant to help you prepare for a gig, and if you don’t plan for what could happen if things go wrong, then you haven’t prepared for the gig properly.
Rehearsing different equipment and acoustics:
About 60% of the bands that come to us have preferred studios/amplifiers/drumkits that they use regularly. What happens though if you get used to using the exact same set-up for rehearsal after rehearsal, and then you are suddenly faced with equipment or acoustics you are unfamiliar with at your live gig? There’s no point in rehearsing to play in an exact set-up if you’re then not able to use that set-up in your gigs. If you’re rehearsing with the exact same set up in every rehearsal then it could be argued that you’re perfecting how to play in your rehearsal studio, as opposed to playing in an unpredictable live situation. Use your rehearsals as an opportunity to get used to playing your music in as many different scenarios as possible. Use different rooms, with different acoustics, and different equipment so that you’re prepared for any eventuality when playing live. All 5 of our rehearsal studios have different acoustics in them, which is intentional. Certain studios have rugs which you can pull up to have lots more reverb. Amplifiers can “boom” depending on where they’re placed in the room, so try moving your amplifier around more to see how it responds differently in different positions. That way, if you play a gig on a stage that naturally booms/echoes, you'll be prepared.
Guitars/Bass - Try as many different amplifiers as possible during your sessions so that if you need to borrow another band’s amplifier at the next gig, you’ll have a better understanding of how to dial in your sound, something you’ll naturally develop an ear for from using so many different amps. If you are a blues band, ask for an amplifier that is best suited to heavy metal bands for the last 30 mins of your session. If you can learn how to get a great sound out of it in your rehearsal, you’ll be less nervous of the prospect of borrowing someone else’s amplifier live on stage, and hence you’ll be more prepared for your gig, which is what a band rehearsal is meant to do. If there’s a keyboard amp in the studio, try to put your guitar through it for 20 mins and learn what setting you can use on your pedals and guitar to make a keyboard amp sound usable for an electric guitar. Your multi-effects pedal may have a speaker emulation built into it to help remove most of the top end of the keyboard amplifier, or you may be able to adjust the EQ pedal to get a usable sound out of it. If you work this out in advance then you’ll have learned how to adapt your sound so that if your amplifier breaks down mid gig, you can now add keyboard players to the list of potential people who can help you out.
Drums: If you’re a drummer, who plays with 2 rack toms, a floor tom and 4 cymbals (2 rides and 2 crashes) and who usually uses other band’s drum kits while playing live, maybe try playing with no rack toms at all, 1 floor tom and only 1 ride or 1 crash. That way if you ever turn up to a gig and the rack toms have battered heads, or the band providing the kit has no rack toms on it or only one cymbal stand, you won't be working out how to adapt your songs to play on this more stripped down drum kit whilst playing the gig.

Vocals: Have a rehearsal where you have an instrumental run-through of your set, without any vocals at all. Playing without the vocal cues of the lead singer can require a lot more concentration than usual since you’ll need to count bars or use other instruments as your reference for when you need to change chords or move onto different sections of the song, as opposed to using certain vocal lines for your cues. If you manage to get through it okay, the next time that you have a bad sound engineer at a gig, or play a gig where there are no fold-back monitors on stage, you’ll be much more prepared to soldier your way through the gig without using the vocals as cues for what part of the song is coming next. Correcting vocalist pitching issues: The vocalist should also study their vocal performance during the session so that they can work out what parts of their performance need improving. You can do this setting up a portable recorder such as this

which has 4 XLR inputs for 4 microphones, and 4 headphone outputs. You can then play as a band, with up to 3 of the microphones being used by the various vocalists in the band, with the final microphone being placed in the middle of the room to record the band as a whole. This will then record - Vocalist 1 on Channel 1. - Vocalist 2 on Channel 2.
- Vocalist 3 on Channel 3.
- The whole band from the ambient microphone placed in the middle of the room on Channel 4. Each of the vocals will be recorded to a separate channel, so the band can isolate the stem tracks of the recordings to work out how each vocalist is performing during their rehearsal, how their pitching and tone is, and also which vocal mix works better for the band. In this setting the band will plug into the recorder and take the headphone output from each of the channels, and plug them into the PA system. In the event that the sound volume generated from this kind of recorder will not be sufficient to compete with a full band while playing, even this will help you since it will replicate the scenario in which a band cannot hear their vocals properly during a live gig, which may or may not have an effect on the vocalists performance. The only way for you to know if this is the case is to record the vocals with the recorder and check them later to see how their pitching is affected when they cannot hear themselves sing. If they have a vocal coach they can also send the stem files to them too for extra feedback on how to improve their performance. No matter what the outcome of these recordings, progress will be made. If they hit all of the right notes despite not being able to hear themselves sing - a feat which requires substantial muscle memory - then it will bode well for any gig where the monitoring on stage isn’t great and they can relax, knowing that they can trust in their pitching without forcing them too much. If their pitching is greatly affected from not being able to monitor themselves then they’ll know to put extra work into this in rehearsals in case the foldback system is compromised at a gig. Either way, make sure that every eventuality is prepared for.

Rehearsing under stage lights.

If your rehearsal studio is able to accommodate it, rehearse under stage lights conditions. If they don't have professional stage lights, bring in a couple of coloured light bulbs instead to create the mood. At Bally Studios we have standard lights, fairy lights and also stage lighting for this exact reason, so that bands can practice under gig lighting conditions. Some bands spend months practicing in perfectly lit studios, but at their first gig they suddenly realise how different it playing under very dim stage lights, or lights that are so bright that it feels like they’re being interrogated by MI5. Suddenly they’re having trouble seeing the settings on their pedals, and they’ve just realized that their set list is written in red marker pen….. which disappears under the red stage lights. If they rehearsed in similar lighting conditions to what they could expect at a gig, they can get used to feeling their way through such events, but it is only possible for the band to prepare for this in advance if they conduct their rehearsals under similar conditions. The only way for you to know what it’s like to play under stage lights is to rehearse under them, so don’t leave it until the gig to find this out, plan it in advance.

Rehearse your start time.
If your band is rehearsing for a festival slot that starts at midday, for example, make sure that you do at least one rehearsal at the exact same time. You might have a lead singer whose voice needs hours of being awake before it properly starts to warm up, or a drummer that has more or less energy in the morning, both of which are factors that should be prepared for. Plan at least one rehearsal for the same time of day as your gig in advance to make sure that any variations in your band’s performance that come with the change in circumstances are factored into the preparation for the gig.
Use your sessions to work out the best PA settings.
If you have a rehearsal with a particularly good reverb sound on the PA, ask a member of staff what it was, including the type of reverb and the precise delay time/decay time, so that you can give it to the sound engineer at your gig. If you are able to say, "is there any chance in getting a plate reverb with about 200ms of reverb, with a 20% mix on the lead vocal, but an 80% mix on the backing vocals?" the sound engineer will be a lot happier from being given these exact instructions. Contrary to popular belief saying “No, I don't like that, do you have anything......different?” doesn't make as much sense to the sound engineer as it does to you. Giving them precise and clear instructions will help them to get a better sound as well as speeding up soundcheck, which could mean more time for you to play on stage, so use your sessions to learn what makes your band sound better in their gig.
Practice your running order and set list. Make sure you run through the set at exactly the same pace as you’ll play it live, as opposed to taking 10 minute breaks between songs to have a chat and a rest, so that the band members are fully prepared for the physical and logistical considerations of playing a gig. If you have 3 upbeat songs in a row it may sound like a great way to start the gig, but has the drummer got enough in the tank for the rest of the gig after such a physically demanding opening? You’ll only know by preparing for it in advance.

I’ve sound engineered at gigs where band members hauled x2 4x12 cabs, huge valve heads and 8x10 bass cabs on stage, sometimes hauling them up multiple steps to do so, and straight afterwards they’re walking around the stage shaking their arms around to try to get some blood back into them. You can’t expect such physical exertion to not have an effect on a musicians ability to play their music, but the only way that you’ll know what effect it will have is by preparing for it in your rehearsal. I once asked a drummer in a band I played with to do x50 press-ups before rehearsing our set in the rehearsal studios, and after 3-4 songs he started to comment that he was feeling muscles whilst playing songs that he’d never felt before. His arms were starting to ache after 5 songs, the sweat was dripping off of them, and his pleas to stop the rehearsal “for a few minutes so that I can have a rest” were met with a reply that he wouldn’t be able to do that during a gig, so why should he expect to do it during a rehearsal? He gritted his teeth and got through it, and at the end of the 40 minute set list a huge psychological barrier had been overcome. At 15 minutes he was ready to give up, but he went deep into his reserves and found the energy he needed. If ever there was a time when he was in the same situation whilst playing live, he know knew that he had in in him to overcome these limitations. He’d done it before, and so he knew that he could do it again.
Factor in alcohol to your rehearsal sessions.
Whilst I’m not going to encourage musicians to get drunk on a Tuesday night when they need to be at work the next day, if you’re always practicing stone cold sober and then have a few pints before your set to loosen up, then you’re not practicing under real world conditions. The same applies in reverse: if you usually have a few pints in your rehearsal session but decide that the gig is very important and calls for a clean head. You need to rehearse under the exact same conditions as your live concerts will be played under, not only in how much alcohol you have, but also in the type of alcohol you have. There’s a big difference between having a beer or a shot of Jägermeister , not only in how the alcohol hits the body, but also in how the acidity affects your stomach and throat, and how the volume of liquid affects your bladder. Some musicians feel so nervous when playing that they need a few drinks to calm themselves down, and this needs to be addressed both in the short term – in making sure that you don’t play a gig completely sober, with your anxiety levels going through the roof – and in the long term, with action needing to be taken to find other ways to relax before a gig.

8) If you need to discuss other band related issues, try to do it outside of the rehearsal room.
Every band has “internal personal dynamics” from time to time. In fact, any band that doesn't have the odd argument here and there may be either avoiding problems that need to be addressed, or simply going through the motions. There’s nothing wrong with the odd “heated debate” between band mates. However, unless you have expressly decided to thrash these disagreements out within the rehearsal studio for whatever reason, it would probably be counter-productive to try to iron out any band differences during the four hours a week or so that you’ve set aside to rehearse. There are some subjects which upon being raised will take at least an hour to fully resolve, after which the band may have heightened tensions. Not only may you lose an hour of rehearsal time, but any drama may cause the rest of the session to be a write off from any bad feelings that discussing these matter could cause. I’m not saying that there’s a problem with band mates challenging each other in the studios, it’s more that such disagreements may be better done between certain band members in private, and at a time when the rest of the band is not present and staring at them, not only to avoid the risk of other band members being asked to take sides in the argument, (which is the easiest way to split up a band) but I’ve also personally seen examples where a band member doesn’t want to back down in an argument for fear of being seen to be weak in front of their band mates, when a different scenario may have allowed this to happen in a much easier way. If a band member challenges their band mate at the start of their rehearsal, it can get a negative tone for the whole rehearsal. Of course there may be times that band members need to call out other band members on a matter, whether it’s that they feel their band mate is not making enough of a commitment in time to the band, or their performance is slipping, or their personal relationships between the band members are being affected by outside circumstances, or whatever. In all of these scenarios, if the argument is put to that band member whilst the other band members are present, it may be harder for the member who is being confronted to admit their fault. By contrast, if the point is made to them in private, without their band mates being present, and at a time when they are able to go away and think about what has been said in private first, before then coming back at a later time to address the issue, not only can it allow that band member to calm down first and then carefully think about this issue at hand at their own leisure, it can also allow them to seek advice on the topic too from other friends, which may cause them to gain a better sense of perspective for the problem.
Most importantly, many bands think of their rehearsal studio as a retreat away from the realities of life, a sacred place where they can forget about their worries outside of those 4 carpeted walls. It could be a crucial part of the joy that they get from the band – the feeling of releasing the tension that has built up through the rest of the week by doing what they love for these 4 blissful hours each week, in a room that has become a second home, a safe space, etc. If you start to bring outside problems into the studios then you also risk taking away one of the biggest benefits that all band members get from using their rehearsal studios. We’ve all had an experience where something bad happened at a certain location, and then every time that you went back to that location you’re reminded of the event itself, and you don’t want the same to happen to your rehearsal space. If you’ve got an internal issue to thrash out between members, it can be best to do it in a neutral location that you’re unlikely to go back to again so that there’s more chance to emotionally distance yourself from the argument in the future.

9) Make sure that even your breaks are as productive as possible.

Any band that decides to try to forego breaks in an effort to get more out of their rehearsal session runs the risk of a drummer seriously injuring themselves through physical over exertion, or other band members operating well under their normal capacity. If you’re going to play your gig whilst full of energy, make sure that you pace yourself so that your rehearsals are conducted under similar circumstances. Breaks are an essential way to get the most out of your session, but just because you have popped out of the rehearsal room for some air, it doesn't mean that the band can't use the time for their benefit. It’s a great opportunity to go to the staff member at the studio and ask if there are any other bands rehearsing with them that they feel may be quite similar to your band? They may even be rehearsing at the same time as you, in which case you can stick your ear to the door of where they’re rehearsing to listen to some of their music, and see if they’re a band to build contacts with. So many bands talk about “getting out there and meeting other bands in the music scene whilst gigging”, but networking at a local rehearsal studios is much more productive, and easier too. Bands usually rehearse much closer to home compared to where they gig so it’s likely that they’ll be physically based near to your band, which will make it easier to connect with them. They’ll also likely have more time to chat to you during their rehearsal session compared to what they would at one of their gigs. You’re also more likely to go back to the same rehearsal space again and again compared to a certain music venue, which makes the likelihood of running into the other band more likely. Equipment and rehearsal sessions sharing can even be arranged since you go to the same rehearsal studio.

Being able to merge two bands fan bases into one is a great way for bands to build a following. You can play gigs together and go halves on the cost of flyers or advertising for the gig, do split singles/EP's, share back-line equipment for gigs, and if you have a similar style to other bands it can help to build up a bigger movement within the local music scene. It’s not coincidence that The Clash and The Sex Pistols were the 2 biggest punk bands of all time that just happened to be based in the same city in the exact same year, or that Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney all happened to be based in and around Seattle from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Bands can both create a market and benefit from other bands doing the same, as well as motivating and inspiring each other. Whether it’s blues guitarists based around the Mississippi Delta or electro bands being based in and around Berlin, creating a local music scene is a key part to growing your fan base. If your rehearsal sessions are meant to help your band’s ascent up through the music industry, then don’t neglect such a vital part of that process as connecting with other bands. After all, there are fewer places that see as many bands visit them as rehearsal studios, so make sure you meet them there. On the night of the gig there will be numerous things that you need to sort out, as well as fans/friends that you need to thank for coming to the gig, so it’s much harder to find the time to network at gigs. The rehearsal studio is a much more conducive atmosphere to building up good relationships with other bands. If the same band is rehearsing the next time you rehearse, you can strengthen your relationship further, and if a different band is rehearsing, it's a chance to make even more contacts.
If personal experiences are anything to go on, bands talk about what is going on in their band each and every shift. We chat about gigs that they have done recently, what promoters they like and what ones they plan to avoid, we find out what equipment they’ve been having problems with, and what aspects of the music industry excite them the most. They have a list of places they’ve got t-shirts printed, magazines that gave them a review, and pubs that allowed them to put flyers out. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who knows more bands and who hears more about the music industry than a member of staff at a rehearsal studios. They're likely to be a mine of useful information on venues and gigs to play, and which ones to avoid, as well as knowing the contacts of repairers of musical equipment and new music shops that are opening, other musicians who are looking for bands, or bands that are looking for musicians. Even if only one band member were to chat to a member of staff, you would be surprised by the amount of things you can learn from speaking to staff members at rehearsal studios. We have all heard the expression, "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know", so get to know the people in the know.

10) Try to keep a log of rehearsal conditions rehearsals to try to learn how the band best operates.

By making small notes during the rehearsal, you may be able to spot tendencies and patterns as to when the band his able to deliver their best performance. For example, if you are doing two sessions over two or three days, some bands may notice that their second session is more focused as it builds onto the previous one, whereas some bands may feel that their second rehearsal usually is not as good as their first one, in which they used up all of their energy. Keep a log of the circumstance of each of your rehearsal sessions so that you can later go over them and work out what factors help or hinder the band’s performance.

If you notice that it takes the band a couple of hours to loosen up, and that your performance improves afterwards once you have loosened up, it raises the possibility of the band doing a quick 3pm - 5pm rehearsal before heading off to the venue for a 6pm soundcheck. If you have a meal before a rehearsal and notice that it has an effect on your rehearsal, then you will know to plan your meals carefully before future gigs, particularly with singers who find that having a heavy meal before their gig, or a spicy meal, can cause them to have acid relfux, which can have a detrimental effect on their performance.

Likewise, I have lost count of the amount of times that I have told band members that drinking cold water from the fridge will affect their vocal abilities, only for them to later come out of the rehearsal room and say that the cold water did exactly that. Your vocal chords are a muscle, and when you go out in the snow, you get “frozen stiff”, your muscles tense up. If the ability to sing certain notes depends on your ability to manipulate your vocals chords, then making them stiff is going to make it harder to hit certain notes. (This is also partly the reason why you sound so good at singing in the hot shower.)

If the sound of the amplifiers is loud during the rehearsal, and the drummer doesn’t have enough of their drums coming back at them in the monitors they will instinctively start playing a lot louder to compensate, and many times this can compromise the quality of the performance. If they’re focused on how loud they are playing, this can be at the expense of the tone and rhythm. Some drummers actually work the opposite way, in that they need all of the instruments to be very loud before they can truly get into the feel of the gig, it varies from drummer to drummer, and so the band should experiment with their volumes in their rehearsal to find out where this sweet spot is. If a band member ever gives a particularly bad or a particularly performance during a rehearsal, it is definitely worth making a note of the conditions on that rehearsal in case there was a determining factor that caused it, so that these factors can later be replicated in future gigs or recording sessions. Remember, great rehearsals are always much more fun, but you can also learn more from the bad ones, so long as you actually learn what factors it were that made the rehearsal a weak one. Making mistakes is a great way to progress as a band, so long as you know what mistakes you made. The next time you have a great or a poor rehearsal, spend 5 minutes working out what made it good or bad, so that you can replicate it in then future.
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