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Stop practicing. Start rehearsing.

Does your band have practice or rehearsal? And did you even realize that there is a difference between the two? The difference is huge, and what I want to do today is convince you why your band should put a stop to practice, and start having rehearsals!

So what’s the difference between practice and rehearsal? Very briefly put, practice is where the musicians show up not knowing the music and then you (as a band) learn the tunes together. Rehearsal is where the musicians show up already knowing the music, and you run through them together.


Now there is nothing wrong with either of these formats. However, the typical reason I find for bands having practice rather than rehearsal is, musicians not having the time or ability to learn the tunes on their own. The ultimate goal is to work your way to a point where you can start having rehearsals…not practices.

Here are 4 reasons why:


1. Practice is what musicians should be doing on their own.

I’ve seen this happen too many times. Musicians get into a rut of just showing up and playing whatever. They’re not getting better as a musician, because they aren’t practicing and really getting the parts down at home. They’re stuck being the same ole mediocre musician that they’ve always been. Requiring musicians to practice on their own puts the responsibility to learn on the musician.


2. Practicing creates better ear training.

One of the big differences between an ok musician and a great one (especially in pipe band music) is the ability to play by ear. Learning the tunes on your own creates opportunities to develop an ear for music. When you’re learning parts the way they actually go on the album (as opposed to just showing up and playing whatever), you’re developing an ear to hear parts.


3. Rehearsals = less wasted time.

This is quite possibly the biggest benefit of having rehearsals. Everyone shows up knowing the tunes already! With the musicians and bands I play with now, there are many instances where we don’t even rehearse tunes. We spend about 10 minutes talking through tunes, and we’re done. No wasted time. Why can we do this? Because we trust that everybody has already learned the music.


4. Rehearsals = less stress.

If everyone shows up knowing the part, that’s less stress on the leader. We aren’t worried about everyone knowing their parts and having to teach them. If your band is having practice, there is nothing wrong with that. However, the goal is to work to a point where you are having rehearsals, not practices.

It’s also important to make it clear to all of the musicians in your band that you have rehearsal, not practice. If a musician showed up to rehearsal not knowing the music, I would kindly ask them to step down. We are going to start doing the same.


It’s an honor and responsibility to play in the band, and it has to be treated as such.


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