Singer: “One O'clock”
Guitarist: “Is it my turn to bring the beer?”
Singer: “Yeah, I'll bring the girls.”
Bass Player: “I'll bring the hot dogs and burgers.”
Drummer: “Great! Sounds like we got ourselves a party, I mean, a practice!
If the above fictional conversation is similar to the preparations your band usually makes for a practice, then I'm here to tell you that you may be taking the wrong approach to preparing for a rehearsal. To explain as to why that is, we must first understand what the actual purpose of a rehearsal is. These are my thoughts on what you should attempt to achieve through a band practice and how making a social event out of a practice interferes with that:
First of all, you are trying to rehearse the songs you intend to play out. When you invite other people to a rehearsal, they quite often will ask you to play a song your band has not yet rehearsed. In attempting to play it, you waste time because, in most cases, not everyone in the band already knows the song.
You may have to play some of the songs a number of times to actually get it down. Sometimes you may just need to work on a section of the song you are having problems with. When other people are there, you may not do that because you don't want to bore them with playing the same songs over and over or repeatedly going over the various problem spots within a song.
Quite often you may take more breaks or longer breaks than you should and this obviously reduces the effectiveness of the time you are spending. This problem is aggravated if you really have very few opportunities to get together as a band. Obviously, the larger the size of the band, the harder it is to coordinate rehearsals, since not everyone has the same work schedule or personal obligations.
If you are drinking alcoholic beverages while practicing, let's face it, you're playing is probably going to be affected. The more you engage in consumption, the worse it is affected. Your playing gets sloppy and so you may have to go over songs more than necessary, thereby wasting even more time. You may also lose focus and not have the ability to prioritize as what you should be working on most.
Just having more people there than necessary serves as a distraction. The bass player should be paying more attention to the song he's playing and less on the cute little blond that's making goo goo eyes at him. It's even more of a distraction if you are practicing in a place with a limited amount of space. When you're practically tripping over each other. Like when that cute little blond that's been making goo goo eyes at the bass player has to get up and go to the bathroom and you have to move out of the way to give her access to the bathroom door.
If you really want your band to get out there playing in the bars, night clubs or other venues, then you really need to focus. You need to focus on learning new material. You have to systematically learn and rehearse enough material to make a full night of music. That requires learning a lot of songs. It's kind of hard to focus on the business aspects of your music or learning those songs when you make a party or social event of a rehearsal.
So, to sum it all up, there are ways of having fun and still getting done what you need to get done in a band practice. If you are going to have a social event or party on the day of the band practice, then let the festivities begin after the rehearsal is over. Just get done what you need to get done first. Then let the party begin. Just remember that your first priority should be to work on the music. If your first priority is the social event, then maybe you are in the wrong business. Maybe you should be in the events planning or catering businesses. So what will it be then? Will it be a practice or will it be a party?
Photo Credit: "Evil Clown Banquet, created by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau. Art Prints available for online purchases.