Band Practice Room

The band practice room is where future stars are born, not so?

Well then, it is an important place, if you are serious about going places, that is.

Think about this – there is one fundamental reason why martial arts students (and instructors) bow upon entering and leaving their training hall – be it karate dojo, tae kwondo dojang, whatever. It is a place where they learn, and improve themselves – so it deserves respect. Maybe you should do the same with your band practice room? Even if it is the wood-shed out back, or the garage basement!

Anyway, make sure that your rehearsal studio is the best that you can make it. I do not mean that unless you have a practice venue that looks like Mark Knopfler’s you are just not going anywhere. Not at all – remember what you read in Starting Your Band: everyone starts in the same place!

There are a number of aspects to getting this right – not that there is a ‘wrong’, necessarily, but you will see what I mean. Let’s take the pointers one by one.

  1. One aspect we will get past, up-front, is the fact that virtually every city has band practice rooms for hire. (You might find some advertised, even, in the “Marketplace”.) But, unless you have the spare cash, my guess is that this kind of expense is best left until later. Plus, when you are starting out, your band might be a neighbourhood thing, college-mates for example, and in which case travelling to the other side of town won’t be that practical.
  2. There is no magic or mystery in the venue that you choose, but there is an element of Zen. Music practice rooms should be a place where you want to be. It must not be a drag –  you must not have to force yourself to go there. It must be a place where creation will comfortably mingle with effort – to produce greatness. Obviously, there are no inflexible rules. My 6-piece band rehearsed in a converted garage, basically, for over 15 years. (Yes, that’s it below!) On the other hand, if the music you create is synthpop, well, you might not need anything other than your computer?
  3. Your practice space should be reasonably private. When you go public, you want to be polished. So, whilst I do not mean ‘private’ as in locked in the bathroom, I do mean a space where you are not accessible to the public. Being banned for disturbing the peace, even before your first gig, is not a great start… (It’s a bit like the old joke: no-one should be allowed to play a violin before he can LOL.)
  4. That said, acoustics are not that crucial. You also do not need to have the sound balance that will be essential when you perform. So, whilst you must be conscious of this, all you really require is to be able to hear each other play. Hear is an important point (haha, gettit?) It is not just that you must hear, but you must be able to discern what your band members are playing. As we note elsewhere, one of the basics to learn early on is the ability to play your part, whilst listening to what the others are doing. And we also note that when you play, you play for the band – not on your own mission.
  5. Sometimes, it may be necessary for the singer to rehearse separately from the rhythm section, say, to get something right, or to work on harmony. So he/she can go to the sitting room.
  6. Actually, despite my note that there are no inflexible rules about a band practice room, maybe there is just this one. If there is a place where you can leave the equipment set up, it saves time and effort. Believe me, when you start gigging, there will plenty of opportunity to  pack and unpack the equipment that the band uses. You will likely rehearse more than you gig – well, you should do! – so a permanent band practice room is a good idea.