Believe it or not, there’s a difference between jamming and actually rehearsing. Jamming is great when you’re writing new songs or just having fun, but what about when you have a show coming up and you need to get the tunes tight? What if you’re breaking in a new guitar player or even a new drummer (you)? In this case you have to maximize your time and take care of business. Maybe you were hired to play a show and you only have one or two rehearsals to get it together so it sounds like the band has been playing together for years. Now there’s no time for jamming. Here’s a few suggestions.
1) Be on time. Don’t pull a rock star move and be 30 minutes late. Being on time shows you’re serious and shows respect for the other musicians, which brings us to suggestion number two…
2) Be serious and show respect for the other musicians. This should really be #1. Of course you have to play well, but this is actually not as important as your relationship with the other players. No one will care how good you are if you’re a pain in the ass to work with. Be open and receptive to everyone’s ideas even if you don’t really agree. If it’s not a collaborative “band” situation and you were hired to play the gig, then listen to the bandleader and give him what he wants. Offer your opinion only if they ask. You’re there to do a job and recreate what they hear in their heads.
3) Have your act together. Do the homework and know the material before you get to the rehearsal, if possible. If you have recordings of the songs in advance, memorize them or at least write out cheat sheet charts. Hopefully you can nail it the first time down. Have the right instrument for the gig. Don’t bring a big rock kit to a jazz rehearsal, unless you like that of course.
4) Use a metronome. It’s one thing to practice by yourself with a metronome but it’s a totally different experience when you play with other people. It’s great practice for you and the other players to rehearse with a metronome. They don’t even have to hear it. You become their metronome. They know you’re listening to a click so they will follow you for the time, which is what you want since you’re the drummer. Everyone learns what it feels like to play the song at a steady meter.
5) Record the rehearsal. Sure it felt great when you were running it down but the recording will tell the true story! This practice can be a painful one, but there is nothing better for your playing than recording yourself in rehearsal or by yourself. It also works the other way, you may have thought you were blowing it and then you listen back and it’s totally smoking! Minidisc player-recorders and a stereo mike are great for this.
6) Enjoy yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point?