What *is* it that makes a good practice???

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Di B, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Di B

    Di B Member

    We have all had similar experiences.... some practices are so appalling you leave band wondering why you gave up your evening, and other times you leave the bandroom buzzing!

    So... what is it that makes a good practice for your band? What is it that makes a bad practice for your band?

    Also, if different, what makes a good or bad practice for you personally?

    Are these different and if so why?
  2. Valvecap

    Valvecap Member

    Hi Di - in my opinion as both a conductor and a player, a good rehersal is one where a band improves in standard and improves, without someone been strung up from the rafters by the nadgers with piano wire... (or other such punishments for splitting notes.) Discipline is essential, but it has to be the right discipline - motivational rather than just straight abuse - there is a place for anger in rehersal as much as there is for laughing and joking - its keeping a balance - and the negative vibes to a minimum.
    I like to go to a rehersal to play so it is important to me that a rehersal "flows" without too many breaks - sometimes that can be as much players faults as a conductor - people not concentrating leads to silly mistakes - key signitures etc (and often, the MD stopping the band). I suppose thats different depending what level you band at. trainer bands will probably have less flowing rehersals than 1st section bands for example - the MD is likely to be training the players to play the instrument as well as the music for example.
    A good rehersal is a FULL rehersal - i find it is demorilizing and restricting if, for example, there is no principal euph, or 2 out of the 3 trombones are missing - its not futile top reherse under such conditions as other sections can still play.
    I am not sure there is a definitive "rehersal enjoyment" bubble - i think it depends on individuals involved - you enjoy playing some pieces more than the next person for example - when conducting i try to vary the rehersal as much as i can to appeal to the entire band.

    Right - thats my head on the choppin block... form an orderly queue and start shooting at it! :twisted:
  3. euphemism

    euphemism Member

    A Full - or as full as possible rehearsal is essential = there are some bands who have to allow some players to pick and choose when to or not to attend a rehearsal.

    You need someone you know is going to make you work - take no sh*t - but also know not to stop every time you miss a not inthat 'very hard but'

    You need to be keen and attentive as players and want to improve in that rehearsal

    A conductor in a bad nmood is no good - nor players who can't be bothered

    Attention to detail is a must

    Hot weather can be a little offputting...but shouldn't detract too much from the other points.

    Absence of any or some of the above can jeopardise these precious things we call rehearsals
  4. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    I'd agree with the above points but also add that most of my enjoyment at a rehearsal comes from how I am playing (not to be confused with how others perceive I am playing as my standards are very high). If I am playing well and chops feel good then I can enjoy the rehearsal, if not I spend the night fighting with it and invariably don't enjoy the rehearsal.

    Last night for example we had lots of people away on holiday but I enjoyed it becuase I was playing OK (still lots of things to iron out though . . . . . ) :)
  5. Di B

    Di B Member

    Thats the sort of thing I meant.... what makes you have a good rehearsal (even if the band one has been poor) and what makes the band have a good rehearsal?!

    Also, people are saying that a full band is a must.... sorry, it helps, but it doesn't guarantee a good rehearsal at all!

    You can have a fab rehearsal with 12 players *sometimes* and I wondered why? Is it because these are the players that are more competent? Is it because as there are fewer players everyone plays tighter?

    Why does a practice feel bad when there is a full band, a good conductor and everyone is concentrating?

    Sometimes I personally feel that things just 'gel'... don't know what things or why they gel though! :roll:
  6. euphemism

    euphemism Member

    errrr.... I think I would disagree about having a good rehearsal with 12 players - maybe 18 or so.... for the band anyhow

    However if you have had a good rehearsal maybe it is because the 12 were the better players in the band and the ones that didn't make it are the ones who may be holding you back......

    But - you've gotta enjoy it - after all it is a hobby..........or is it a way of life ??

    That may need a separate thread of its own - what have you done that sets your banding apart from being only a hobby to being a way of life ??
  7. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know that it really matters whether the players there are "the better" ones or not. I think that what is important is that they are ready to concentrate and work together to make music.

    Unfortunately, I have experienced a couple of instances, particularly when there are players missing, where some of the best players have almost seemed to do all they could to sabotage what remained, deliberately messing around and chatting amongst themselves.

    For myself, I like to feel that I have been made to work at making music - not necessarily by playing lots of black notes or intricate figures, but by working hard to produce the sound and effects the composer and conductor are looking for. I would agree that there are things you can do as an individual to make a practice worth-while, but it is much better if everybody works together.

    Two comments on the way the practice is planned out: there should be something for all sections to get their teeth into, without anyone sitting idle for too long; also, and I know this is hard to avoid, things should not be too disjointed - if sections need to be pulled apart, then there should be the chance to put it together again before putting the music away. One idea that can work quite well is to start from the final section of a piece, gradually working further forward, but playing through to the end each time, so you're coming into more famliar territory.
  8. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    .......... well its a way of life for us lot!! but i try and keep the practice interesting and varied whilst still doing what i should be, it also needs to be lighthearted as well, if you can't have a joke............ well
    anyway we are lucky because we always get full or fullish rehearsals and are able to get a lot of good work done :wink: .......... then there is the social part :wink: :guiness
  9. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    I've always found a good measure of whether the rehearsal is good to be:

    whether or not I've looked at my watch to see what time it is, and furthermore if its much later than I thought. Practices that you look at your watch more than twice are BAD rehearsals.

    Nothing frustrates you more as a player than seeing bad playing go unpunished, or certain players been treated badly/too good. Or even worse, that people haven't practised their parts. Which is what prompted me to take up the baton! As a conductor, it's more in my power to do something about it. However, people not turning up on time or at all, talking, or just being space cadets when they should be concentrating. Basically, anyone who doesn't put the band first like you do.

    Favourite rehearsal: when it finishes early because all the work for the night has been done.
  10. mikemjc

    mikemjc New Member

    Hi Di
    To me a good rehersal is when after your MD say thank you and good night folks at the end of the evening your thinking 'what, not now I'm buzzing lets just do another couple of hours' and everything is just going so right.
  11. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Yeah, fair point.

    Not sure there should be any actual punishment going on!! Perhaps encouragement to get it right next time . . .

    Not played in 99.9% of our bands then, eh??? :lol:

    Not sure I'm with you on the put band first approach. Banding is but one of most peoples hobbies and whilst it is important to many it is not life or death - a small amount of chat/banter in the bandroom doesn't hurt.
  12. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member


    Well not talking about punishment... encouragement definately- but it is annoying when mistakes are not picked up upon and then they just happen again and again!
  13. blondie

    blondie Member

    For me its principally 'bums on seats'. For 70% of rehearsal purposes you need a full band, with sectionals perhaps for more complicated parts/sections for important contests etc.

    I'd agree with mike, that if you are feeling up to it then, the rehearsal (even if short of players) can sound good, and be enjoyable. If you've had a bad day at the pit, then it can go horribly downhill from the time that you walk in the door of the bandroom.

    I don't know if anybody else notices this (maybe just me), but the vibe in the bandroom can also affect a rehearsal. This could be the whole unit just being fed up, lack of concentration etc, or the MD being in a less than positive frame of mind.

    Nearly forgot (typical), Its got to be an interesting variety of music. I know some of the less popular works have to be performed to keep everyone happy and for concert programme variation, but it helps!!
  14. SammyT

    SammyT Member

    For me good rehesals are when I play well and you can here the improvement in the band. Take last rehersal on wednesday I could not count and could not play bits I have played many times in the past - not good when you are rehersing for the nationals :oops: :oops: .
    However the band sounded ok so in that respect it as a good rehersal!!
  15. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    You're all confused! Ideal rehearsal:
    19.59 Arrive at bandroom
    20.00 Begin playing
    20.30 Sack it off and go the pub
    23.30 Attempt to blag a lock in, failing this go to the curry house :wink:

    Seriously though, I would say a good rehearsal is one that combines a good share of playing improvement and humour. I don't consider a rehearsal that's all about playing and no banter at all as good. I'm not saying arse about all rehearsal, but a rehearsal sat in silence twice a week ain't good for ya :D
  16. floral_dance

    floral_dance Member

    I would agree with a loth that has been said, I think on a personal note I enjoy band more when I have played well and hate it when i have not beenable to count or can't play parts which I have spent time working on at home but when I get to band hall it feels like I have never seen them before, a good sense of humour is also important from both conductor and band. :)
  17. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    Whether a rehearsal is good or not depends heavily on the conductor, it's they who can: pick on certain players (and go too far), or ignore other players who are 'favourites', and also make a rehearsal either very exciting or boring. I agree with some comments about a balance with taking it too seriously, and adding humour though. Sometimes I have a tendency to sound like the conductor from 'brassed off', although hopefully without coughing as much!

    An interesting rehearsal once was when Wingates had a few missing in summer and we all swapped instruments and played 'Carnival Romain'. Badly. Not to be recommended to pupils though!
  18. BottyBurp

    BottyBurp Member

    To me, both as a player (top section) and a conductor (2nd section), if I've got a full band in front of me, then I'm immediately in a good mood. If I have a full band, I try to encourage further full band attendance by trying even harder to make it a good, challenging, interesting and enjoyable rehearsal. I conduct a second section band (1st section as of Jan 2004) and recently, we had a full turnout (!), so I did all the work that I had planned to do that night and spent the last half hour on English Heritage. Wow! The band responded and rose to the challenge and played it FAR better than I thought they would! I had several emails and phone calls from players saying how much they had enjoyed rehearsal that night! However, if any of my players are reading this before tonight, I'm picking on individuals tonight to play the "difficult" passages as you've had plenty of chance and warning to get it right!

    Like Di said, it all "gelled" that night...
  19. DaveBB

    DaveBB Member

    I think the perception of a good rehersal really depends on what level of banding we are talking about, in the championship more enjoyment can be gained from improvement and top quality playing. Whereas enjoyment with progress is more accepted as a good rehersal lower down the section.
  20. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I think we've had a good rehearsal when we've Achieved something,
    been more intune
    a tricky corner in a piece

    if people go away feeling they've achieved, their happy

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