Everyone’s Favorite Pastime: Scheduling Rehearsals

Setting reasonable goals for a gig as far as new music and new musicians will save you lots of stress later on. Once you have those goals are set, scheduling the right number of rehearsals in the right proximity to a gig will ensure that everyone is fresh and prepared.

For a 50 minute set of songs that are already arranged– that is, the band is learning off of pre-existing tracks or arrangement, I’d give a pro band that hasn’t played the material before two 3-hour rehearsals. The latter rehearsal should be a day or two before the gig, with a couple days in between the two rehearsals to review anything that needs work after the first.

If the songs have yet to be arranged, you’ll want to budget in time to spend arranging each song in the rehearsal room. Professional musicians who can write their own parts in a quick and timely manner help a lot. I’d add about 30-40 minutes per tune that needs to be arranged assuming that they are fairly typical as far as form without too many twists and turns. If you’re playing a through-composed song with alternating odd meters… well, you could set aside a couple hours of rehearsal to arrange it, or you could have someone arrange it beforehand.

If it’s been six months since your last gig, or you’re welcoming a new band member, one 2- to 3-hour rehearsal is usually more than enough for a 50-minute set. Many musicians will be comfortable playing material that they’ve played at least twice before with no rehearsal. Once again– these estimates are contingent on experienced, professional musicians– so finding the right people is the best place to start!

Have any tips on good rehearsals? Stories of bad ones? Add your comments below, along with anything else you’d like to see on this blog!

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Other posts in this series:
Finding the Right Musicians
Preparing Songs For Your Band
Do I Need Charts?
How do I tell the band what I want?
Maintaining a Good Vibe

Justin Goldner is a bassist, guitarist, producer, songwriter, language junkie and lover of culture in all its manifestations. He hurls snarky remarks into the Twitter-void via @JusBass.

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