#1
Me and a few musicians started a basic bar cover band. My question is, is it better to practice songs in a specific order that you wish to preform them (like a set setlist) or to focus specifically on songs that a member or two might be having problems with and hope the other songs stay nice and tight without as much practice and attention?
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#2
My band do both. The majority of practices will be learning new songs & improving existing ones, but occasionally (especially if we've been a few weeks without a gig) we'll just run through the set for the next batch of bookings as a practice gig.
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#3
I think Gary is right, do both. Practice new stuff but play a few more familiar songs just to break it up and get you away from over concentrating too long on a new song. I find that if we are practicing a new song for more than 15 minutes the quality starts to depreciate as at least one or two people who are having an easier time with the new song get bored and start playing with less attention. At that point I suggest we do a couple our better known songs to break it up and come back to the new song. As for set lists, I only make them up a day or two just before a gig since what we play depends on where and who we are playing for. We don't practice sets. Just my 2 cents.
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#4
I think in general I prefer to practise weak spots and not stop until they are strengths. But as Rick points out there's a risk that if you instead get worse with repetition. Imho that can depend on not practising efficiently. Maybe you should't just try the riff over and over but instead turn off the instruments and clap+sing your parts to get your syncopations right or get the drummer to find the 1 after a fill. Or, if you're far from there, simply leave it as homework and get back to it on your next band practise.

On a sidenote: One thing that I'd like to see more people rehearse is the "between the songs". Getting from the end of song A to the beginning of song B without the drummer asking which song is next, the bassist checking his cheat sheet for the key and the guitarist starting to tune. If you don't plan to say anything between the songs you should be able to go into the next on a 1,2,3,4. (If you ever record your rehersals you'll notice that you probably have minutes between songs even if you don't do anything. This is when the audience goes for a beer.)
#5
Quote by copperwreck
Or, if you're far from there, simply leave it as homework and get back to it on your next band practise.

This. Band practice should not be spent on people learning their parts. That's something that you can and should do at home. Band practice should be spent on focusing on parts that are difficult to play together as a band (things that you can't learn just by playing alone in the bedroom), and making making the band sound tight (by making sure that everybody has the same idea of how the songs should be played). If people don't know their parts well, they should practice them at home and not spend too much band practice time on that (because that can be frustrating to the other musicians in the band, and that's also something that you could just learn on your own).

But yeah, focus on the parts/songs that are difficult to play. Of course before a gig it's good to play through all of the songs. You may also want to use some song you know well as a "warm up". But there's no reason to spend much time on songs that you can play well.
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#6
Quote by ComaAlpha
Me and a few musicians started a basic bar cover band. My question is, is it better to practice songs in a specific order that you wish to preform them (like a set setlist) or to focus specifically on songs that a member or two might be having problems with and hope the other songs stay nice and tight without as much practice and attention?
Both, but the latter is more important. If you have a set of songs that you're all comfortable playing, then the set list order can be flexible. You can call tunes as you feel it, or depending on audience response.

A fixed setlist order will make you look professional - because you need minimum gaps or discussion between songs - but any song that is not 100% right is going to destroy that. (I don't mean 100% accurate according to the original, but one where you're all 100% confident of it.)

So - practice songs in set-list order, but stop on any that have problems and go over them until they're fixed. (Of course the problem then is you may never complete your set-list in rehearsal...) Any song which proves tough to fix - takes up way too much practice time - drop it. If you can't find an easier alternative, and that makes the set-list too short, just extend one or two of the other songs, add more solos, whatever.

Better to have an obscure cover that you play really well than a well-known one that you're not completely in control of.
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 18, 2016,
#7
Quote by MaggaraMarine
This. Band practice should not be spent on people learning their parts. That's something that you can and should do at home. Band practice should be spent on focusing on parts that are difficult to play together as a band (things that you can't learn just by playing alone in the bedroom), and making making the band sound tight (by making sure that everybody has the same idea of how the songs should be played). If people don't know their parts well, they should practice them at home and not spend too much band practice time on that (because that can be frustrating to the other musicians in the band, and that's also something that you could just learn on your own).
This is the thing that constantly annoys me about my band. Actually, one particular guy in the band.

The bassist/singer will often come up with a new suggestion for a song mid-week, email it round to everyone and assume we'll have time to learn it by practice on Sunday night. Even when you say you've had absolutely no time to look at it, he still insists on playing through it over & over despite how terrible it sounds because none of us know what we're doing.

Then every time we tell him not to do it again because we just wasted a practice, then a couple of months later he'll do the exact same thing completely forgetting every other time he did it.

Still, he's getting old so I guess his memory isn't what it used to be.
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#8
GaryBillington Sounds like crap, I wouldn't play with that guy.

Otherwise I'm with Maggara, for cover bands learn the songs at home. Practice with YouTube or Spotify. There is no excuse not to. If someone couldn't be bothered, kick them from the band.
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#9
He's OK the other 90% of the time
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#10
GaryBillington Oh that is a pretty good ratio for a singer
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#11
You should practice your set to minimize dead air on stage, but stop and focus on songs with mistakes, or come back to them at the end. Prior to the show, you should run the set at practice as if it were the performance. This lets get you an idea of how long your set is, tighten up starts/stops, and expose any remaining mistakes.

And third-ing the "learn it at home" thing. I play in a wedding band it's expected that we'll have material at 100% prior to the next rehearsal. People who lack the time/ability to get a few 3 minute songs learned in a week shouldn't commit to that kind of gig.
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 18, 2016,
#12
Quote by copperwreck
IOn a sidenote: One thing that I'd like to see more people rehearse is the "between the songs". Getting from the end of song A to the beginning of song B without the drummer asking which song is next, the bassist checking his cheat sheet for the key and the guitarist starting to tune. If you don't plan to say anything between the songs you should be able to go into the next on a 1,2,3,4. (If you ever record your rehersals you'll notice that you probably have minutes between songs even if you don't do anything. This is when the audience goes for a beer.)


That's one of the main reason I like going with a set list a month or two ahead of time and for multiple gigs at a time. We do Them Bones and Dam That River without the drummer even doing a count in. There's other songs where I know I can force the band to start on me. I try to emulate the vibe and feel of going to see a major professional act at a major venue.
Thank you #21! Tim Duncan!!!
#14
Quote by AlanHB
GaryBillington Oh that is a pretty good ratio for a singer
But is it better to have 90% of your notes in tune, or every note 90% in tune? (This math stuff is confusing )
#16
jongtr Every note 90% in tune because 432 Hz is superior and people who say otherwise can go fuck thdmselves
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#17
Quote by AlanHB
jongtr Every note 90% in tune because 432 Hz is superior and people who say otherwise can go fuck thdmselves
#18
Maybe we shouldn't call it band "practice" it should be band "rehearsal". Practice is what you do at home by yourself. You rehearse with your band to put the parts together. I know when a rehearsal starts with someone saying "Can you play the recording of that song for me just one more time?", you know that they haven't even attempted to learn it. That is an incredible waste of time for everyone and shows that they don't value anyone else's time or effort. Being late for gigs and not learning songs for the next rehearsal are my two biggest problems with any musician. After all these years, I don't have a tolerance for it anymore.
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#19
It's the same as practicing on your own. You should isolate the problem and then drill it until it's right. Then slowly expand it until you can get through the song properly.

Only then I would start practicing based on the setlist IMO.
#20
Quote by jtees4
I agree with the BOTH contingent.....however you have to learn the individual songs first to a degree, at least until they are mostly learned by everyone. Then it is better to do it in a sort of set list order. Bring in some groupies too, just to make things "real".


Is it in good taste and morality to convince them to preform fellatio on us while we practice?
Thank you #21! Tim Duncan!!!
#21
In an ideal rehearsal with an ideal band, every member should know what they're doing by practicing alone, and a full band practice should focus on putting it all together and relaying new ideas to the other members.
That being said, I'd dedicate a part of the night to a run through of any songs that need work, taking note at the end what needs more practice alone.
The last thing that should be done while playing instruments is a full practice set, with only the breaks you need to set up for the next song. That will keep every song fresh in your brain without killing the passion for it with repetition.
#22
Quote by jtees4
Bring in some groupies too, just to make things "real".


Unfortunate this situation is as far from "real" as it gets.

if you want your rehearsals to be more like real gigs
-Tell the singer to show up at least half an hour late
-Loosen the kick pedal so it has to be adjusted after every song
-Do not tell the horn players what key the song is in until the drummer starts counting in
#23
Quote by ComaAlpha
Is it in good taste and morality to convince them to preform fellatio on us while we practice?


I didn't think your set was only 90 seconds long...
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#24
Quote by Jet Penguin
I didn't think your set was only 90 seconds long...


LMAO! You win this round!
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#25
^I aim to please.

All joking aside, what I came here to say was "your performance is only as good as your practice".

If you want to do X live (in this case, segue between songs instantly and with 0 effort) start doing it rehearsals on a regular basis.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#26
Quote by sparky996
In an ideal rehearsal with an ideal band, every member should know what they're doing by practicing alone, and a full band practice should focus on putting it all together and relaying new ideas to the other members.
That being said, I'd dedicate a part of the night to a run through of any songs that need work, taking note at the end what needs more practice alone.
The last thing that should be done while playing instruments is a full practice set, with only the breaks you need to set up for the next song. That will keep every song fresh in your brain without killing the passion for it with repetition.


Well I have all of our Drop D songs on one one hour long setlist, all acoustic songs on one one hour long setlist and all standard songs on one one hour setlist specifically to eliminate dead air due to tuning.

we're on a hiatus as I'm out of state taking care of some things, but I'll be back soon enough and we'll get back to it.
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#27
Definitely focus on songs you need more practise on but it is a good idea to often practise in the form of a set list. . Practise like an actual show.. how you enter and lead into the first song and all transitions between songs without stopping too much between.. practise tuning your guitar while you make small talk into the mic.. All these little things will make your show flow more smoothly once you're doing it for real
#28
Quote by ComaAlpha
Well I have all of our Drop D songs on one one hour long setlist, all acoustic songs on one one hour long setlist and all standard songs on one one hour setlist specifically to eliminate dead air due to tuning.

we're on a hiatus as I'm out of state taking care of some things, but I'll be back soon enough and we'll get back to it.


Oy, hope you have a patient sound person. You'll basically have to sound in twice, else your acoustic set is gonna be a little rough on audience side of the mains. I might ditch the acoustic entirely because of the technical difficulties. If you're running your own sound, just don't even take that chance. Acoustic guitar feedback is painful and practically impossible to avoid. Hell, I've seen Trey Anastasio get terrible acoustic feedback in front of 20,000 people with the sound guy they've had for 25 years.

If you're going for a smooth set, I'd try to avoid dividing your sets up by anything but the flow of the performance, and eliminate repertoire that doesn't easily fit into that. Having a set just for drop D stuff isn't a bad idea, but make sure that you're choosing songs by their effectiveness rather than their tuning. If a drop D tune would really go better in your standard set, just transpose. Or just transpose all the D songs so you can place them whenever you want.

My frank opinion on drop D is that it's a liability. Unless you're using a heavy strings you'll get that detuned sound every time you strike the low string just a little too hard.

The band I play in has essentially zero dead air, but we also do "blocks" of 5 or so songs in a sort of medley format, with those blocks broken up by genre. All in standard tuning. We're a high end wedding band, so people expect an extremely smooth performance, but it's really a mark of professionalism no matter what your venues or pay are. Having a really tight set keeps the audience way more engaged and pushes up your band's value. Don't let meaningless "authenticity" get in the way of the entertainment.
#29
cdgraves

Well actually, my idea for the "acoustic" set is that the singer use an acoustic while I just use the neck pickups. But as for the sound guy, I have a guy that has all pro gear ad more than knows how to use it. He runs sound for his own band when I'm not around to run it for him. I'm actually the only person he trusts running sound besides himself. And he hosts acoustic jam nights at a couple of different bars around town. I believe he's battle tested and ready for the challenge if we did decide to go full on acoustic (just got a pickup for my full body).

And as fr the setlist, I understand what you're saying, but the dead air thing is my main reason for keeping those songs next to eachother. If a regular bar band takes 45 seconds to a full minute to get into the next song, I want to take 4 or 5 seconds tops. I tried to be very articulate with the choosing of songs. I tried to make sure that (like a party mix cd) that it starts on a peak and has plenty of peaks, valleys and nice segues in between. I've asked the band mates, I've asked friends, strangers, I haven't gotten a single bad remark about it. The closest thing to negative that I've gotten so far is "What's Man of Golden Words?"

I appreciate your input and I'll bring it up with my bass plaryer when I call him later. As much as I love how warm it is here, I can't wait to go back home and rehearse again.
Thank you #21! Tim Duncan!!!
#30
Quote by AlanHB
jongtr Every note 90% in tune because 432 Hz is superior and people who say otherwise can go fuck thdmselves


People that play in 432 are more likely to experience long periods of homelessness, wear tinfoil hats, and argue with plants.
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#31
my 2 cents, practice as a set. it'll feel natural! also we just vary it up once in a while, depending on the energy of the track.
#33
The solution is simple. Practice one song until it's all good, then move on to the next song of the set. If you didn't manage going through the whole set in one rehearsal, start the next rehearsal with the next song and move on from there.
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