So I've been playing for quite a few months now with some high school friends. However, it seems they sometimes lack motivation. Our bassist and drummer specifically. They just sometimes look bored out of their minds and honestly it's a huge turn down when there's no energy in our practice sessions! Any advice to keep things interesting and keep them motivated?
KFIR808 Hi, first of all, ask them if they have any problems. You can't keep them motivated if you don't know reasons for this lack.
Do they practice their parts (i.e., do they know how to play the songs)? Do they always come to the rehearsals?

Do they just look bored or can you also hear it in their playing?

How many songs have you practiced and how well can you play them? I mean, is there anything in the songs that needs to be practiced? If you already know all of the songs that you want to play perfectly, there is really no reason to spend too much time practicing those songs, and maybe it's time to start practicing new songs. Then again, if you make no progress and the songs still sound like crap after many sessions, people will also find that demotivating.

If you make no progress, you should focus on the parts that don't work and come up with ways to make those parts work. Effective rehearsals are always more interesting than rehearsals where you just play the songs through and it sounds kind of OK but you really make no progress. So if you want to practice efficiently, decide which songs you are going to focus on, and listen to which parts of the song(s) don't work.

Do you have any goals, for example gigs or recording an album or whatever or are you just a "jamming band"? Jamming is of course fun, but if you are just jamming, you are most likely making little progress. Sometimes that's fine if all you want to do is to have fun and jam. But if you want to make progress as a band, it's always good to have some goals - a reason to practice. If you have no actual reason to practice, it may be demotivating.

How long do your rehearsals last and how often do you have rehearsals? If the sessions are too long and there are no breaks, people are automatically going to get bored. You can't focus on one thing for too long. Also, if you have rehearsals too often or too seldom, that may also be demotivating. (If you have them too often, people are just going to get tired of playing the same stuff over and over again. And there is just no reason to have rehearsals too often, unless you are going to play a gig in a week and you can't play your songs well enough. And if you have them too seldom, people are just going to forget their parts and you will not make any progress.)

Who decides which songs you are going to play? Does everybody like the songs? Does everybody in the band have pretty similar music taste? Even if not everybody likes exactly the same music, you can make compromises and let each member choose a couple of songs that they want to play.

But yeah, you should talk to your bandmates about it. We don't really know anything about your band, other than that the drummer and the bassist sometimes look bored in the rehearsals.

I don't think everybody needs to be motivated all the time. I mean, that's just part of being a human. Some days people are bored and don't feel like doing anything. Of course if they are bored most of the time and you can hear it in their playing and it seems like they don't want to play in your band any more, that's a problem. But again, you should talk to your bandmates about it.
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I agree with MaggaraMarine. Having a goal like a gig is a huge motivating factor but I know it's like a "catch 22", there's no reason to rehearse without any upcoming gigs but you can't book a gig without solid rehearsals to get enough songs and a tight band . It ain't easy. I think the above advice is very good. Let everyone bring a song that they think would be good for the band and hopefully something you can agree fits the style your band is looking develop. Talk it out with the band in a friendly way ask them what they want or expect from the band and what can be done to improve the situation. Get them mentally invested in the whole thing. Let them decide how often they are willing to rehearse. Set up a plan and a goal and get everyone on board. 
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 14, 2017,
Thread was moved to forum: Bandleading
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Both MaggaraMarine. and Rickholly74 make excellent points. It doesn't matter what the project is, a band, a play, a sports team, challenges and working towards an objective usually helps motivation. I've found that what working towards developing a cohesive and unique sound often provides the kind of challenge that keeps people motivated. Of course, being in a band with friends from high school could result in being in a band with people who thought it might have been a good idea to be in a band at the time, but who just plain lost interest. I really did graduate from high school in 1969. I really was in a band that summer. No shit. I really was. And one guy really did quit, and another guy really had to get married. But they weren't named Jimmy and Jodie. Sometimes I think Bryan Adams stole my life story. 

The band I got into later, that lasted for a while, was all motivated players who really and truly wanted to be in a good band. We were also all former members of the school chorus, band, and/or drama club, and we all had a long history of expecting to work our tails off rehearsing and practicing. Developing a strong work ethic isn't automatic. Some folks have one. Some don't. If they don't have a strong work ethic for rehearsal and practice. Back to Bryan Adams' song, playing until your fingers bleed isn't something everyone does. 

So, I'd say the best course of action to getting into a band with members who have a strong work ethic and who are motivated to practice and rehearse is to pick the right bandmates. If you're stuck with who you have, working towards a deadline goal is always a good, effective motivator. You might also consider increasing the musical challenge. 

I've encountered way too many beginning musicians who fall into one of two groups. One is players so limited in their skills that they cannot play covers, and therefore write their own "originals" to get songs that do not require them to play chords or riffs that they don't already know. The other is players with skills but no imagination who strive to play covers "just like the original recording". Of that latter group, I'm not talking about professional cover bands who make really good money playing clubs and other venues. I'm talking garage bands who want to play high school dances, fraternity parties, etc. 

There's a middle ground between those two extremes that I think might be easier to motivate people to participate in. Work towards being an uncover band. Dylan used that word in a recent interview to describe taking a song someone else wrote, and arranging it to "uncover" additional layers within it. One of the examples he used was how Jimi Hendrix "uncovered" All Along the Watchtower. Disturbed's recent version of the 60's folk song "Sounds of Silence" is another example. Take a song you want the band to learn, and strip it down to its barest essence. Take it down to chords, lyrics, and melody, then build it back up with original guitar, bass, drum, and keyboard parts. Change the tempo. Add different riffs and fills. Try different things, discard what doesn't work, and keep what does. That sort of original thinking can make rehearsing less boring. It can help the players learn to anticipate what each other might do, which will improve tightness and cohesion. It will help you build a signature sound. And, if anyone does write a good original song, it'll make it easier for the band to flesh it out into a good, finished product.  
Gerdner, you are correct in my opinion. I am  a fellow Class of 69 graduate also and have been actively playing since high school so it's been the same story for me. Many bands, egos, lazy musicians ans unmotivated players. In my experience you can't motivate players who don't have that "fire in the belly" desire to motivate themselves which is a sad reality.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 15, 2017,
Sound like they might not be interested in the songs you'r playing?? As suggested let everyone pick a song they would like to learn. If they still look bored out of their minds then get new band members it's really that simple.

Playing in a band with fellow musicians is supposed to be fun regardless of skill level, goals etc. If there not having fun now they're not going to be having fun later when it comes down to grind and things get stressful. 
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