Every band rehearses in their own way to prepare for a gig and often the rehearsal time determines the quality of a band’s live performance.
When we formed United Power Soul in October of 2017, we decided it was important to establish a weekly 3-hour time slot at a local rehearsal space in downtown Toronto. The objective has always been to get together and work on delivering a great live show.
The band is a unit and unity is everything when it comes to becoming a tight act. Obviously, showing up, is number one, but doing your homework, making a set list and having a positive attitude is important as well. Small details make a big difference when you’re on stage, and developing well-structured rehearsals is the first step to a polished performance.
UPS DELIVERS MUSICIANS ON TIME.
There are a lot of dynamics at play when bringing together 7 musicians. Scheduling conflicts do arise, but we’re lucky, in the sense that all members of United Power Soul are committed to the band, respond to emails and show up for rehearsals on time and with their gear, ready to play as if it were a gig. The other benefit is that with a large band, the cost of rehearsals gets split between the members. Some bands like to use scheduling apps to coordinate rehearsal time, but I find a group email works well to get confirmation from all members.
Some weeks we will organize a car pool and either Elliott or Brandon will pick me up. As the weather starts getting warmer, I’m hoping I can start walking to rehearsals with my guitar and pedalboard in hand. Transportation is really not our main issue, as our Saxophone player, Ryan has pointed out, “This is the only band I’ve been in where most members have their own car!”
HOW WE PREPARE FOR REHEARSAL
We assign a separate time during the week for writing and recording in a studio space. Song writing mode is a very different mindset and I find it’s easier to work out songs in a different session. The rehearsal time is for just that – rehearsing as a band. It’s a time consuming endeavor to put a band that gigs together, not to mention the sweat and blisters.
I find it helpful to have our songs recorded (even as a simple demo track) and written down (as a lead sheet), so everyone knows what lane they’re in. Additionally, we always record our sessions in the rehearsal space on my iPhone or Elliott’s Zoom portable recorder for post-mortem listen back sessions. Rehearsals are all about improvement and the common goal is working out any kinks.
REHEARSAL DOES NOT EQUAL PRACTICE
Practice makes perfect, but rehearsal time is not practice. There is a big difference between practicing and rehearsing. Practicing is something done at home, usually alone. Each member of the band spends significant time each week practicing the songs on their instrument, so that when we get together as a group, everyone is comfortable playing the song and we’re not reviewing chord changes or lyrics. Of course, issues come up during the rehearsal, but that’s why we have them and if everyone is well prepared, the rehearsal goes much smoother.
I’ve learned that sometimes less is more in a band and it’s okay if you’re not playing all the time. We try to work on sound dynamics when rehears ing, and playing together is not a competition. It’s also important to warmup and set levels. We try to have a quick 5-10 minute jam where we do something completely new. This sets the mood and gets the band on the same wave length. After the warmup, we’ll rehearse for 1 and a half hours and take a 15 minute break that may or may not include a beer, before going back at it for another hour.
MOVING FAST 4 U 2
We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us as a new band, but rehearsals are a good barometer for our progress. We seem to be getting the hang of it and our sound is certainly benefiting from the structured time. We still tend to move along in our setlist without going back into songs, which is something we have to work on, but listening back to our rehearsals since October shows we’re on the right path and keep getting better.
At this point we’re rehearsing for our upcoming show at The Piston. We’re in the process of writing some new material so it may or may not be ready for this gig, but it’s always good to keep things fresh and try out new ideas. We’ve also decided to rehearse a few cover songs, which we may include in our setlist. You’ll have to come out to The Spring Breakdown on March 14th to find out which songs we play.