Band Leaders: Are your rehearsals a joy or a sorrow?

The ice in your water has long since melted, your fingers are numb, and for the life of you, you can’t remember why you come to these things. Rehearsals (and here I am referring specifically to band rehearsals) ought to be a joy, reigniting your passion for your art while you hone your skills. Often, however, rehearsals bring a bunch of passionate, talented musicians together and everyone practices long hours together, gets grumpy, and sometimes very little feels like it has been accomplished. If it is your rehearsal (or any meeting for that matter), how do you promote joy? I’ll share 2 practical ideas that I have found to be valuable, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Luther Orchestra
Luther Orchestra by Luther College Photos, on Flickr

1. Remember the passion
Why are you even in this band/organization? If it is a musical group, there for sure can be varying reasons. For me? I play music to express those emotions that are hard to get at, those bottom of the honey jar emotions. I play music to get in touch with those inexpressible parts of life that are so beautiful that they hurt.

Practically, I have sometimes started rehearsals asking group members to share some music that has been resonating with them. The whole group listens to the songs and yes, it chews up rehearsal time. It reminds everyone involved why we are even here. Starting a rehearsal with out first having a good focus on the passion that brought everyone together in the first place is like getting out random ingredients to cook without first remembering why you were in the kitchen.

2. Stick to the time
Few band leaders I have ever known do this. Yes, there are some days that you will need to go over time. Let that be the exception and not the rule. By starting on time and ending on time, you are showing respect for your bandmates. It is much easier to be excited about showing up for a rehearsal if you know that your time will not be taken for granted. A band hungry for more, excited about what they are playing is infectious. I’ll take a joy-filled, excited band that has some rhythm issues over a sonically tight, infighting grumpy band any day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on leading joy filled rehearsals (or meetings). Leave a comment and let me know, How do you run your rehearsals?

William Stonewall Monroe


6 thoughts on “Band Leaders: Are your rehearsals a joy or a sorrow?

  1. One thing I learned from teaching is that there’s often a positive way and a negative way of framing every suggestion.

    So, for instance, if your bass player’s playing is too busy, you can say:

    “Don’t play so much! What you’re doing is too busy and muddles everything up!”

    . . . or you can say . . .

    “Try playing something pretty simple this time, and see what you think.”

    The first one puts the bass player on the defensive, and puts him in a position where he feels compelled to argue with you. The second one, however, isn’t accusatory, and also keeps *him* in control. Most of the time, once he hears your suggestion himself, he’ll come on board.

    And, by the way, I just randomly picked “bass player” without thinking that you and I have both had rehearsals with Ryan!

  2. Have you read “Life without limits” by Nick vujicic? Wow!!!!!!! A must read

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    Sent from my iPhone whose name is ibob


  3. Willy please keep in mind all the PLEASURE that you give your audiences. Your fingers may hurt from practicing and our butts may hurt from sitting there and listening but it is a JOY none the less to hear live music

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