Band Tips for Beginners #4

Do not play when you practise, and do not practise when you play.

And now here comes a serious rule. In fact, it is not just one of the many band tips for beginners, but it will apply for all time.

Do not play when you practise and do not practise when you play.

Got it?

By the way, in the Introduction to Band Tips for Beginnners I said that these are my tips, and do not come from the Experts on BandBay. Well here’s a thing. I got this one from a drum workshop I took my young son to, many years ago, and implemented it in my band, straight away. The workshop at The Baseline, and an almost unbelievable display of drumming, was given by the one-and-only Thomas Lang. It’s what he said. So I guess it is from an expert – and how!

There are two parts to this, so let’s go one by one.

Do not play when you practise.

In other words, team, when you rehearse, do not mess around. Please, I do not mean take yourself too seriously! (I mean, this is rule for life innit?) What I mean is, definitely, do take rehearsals seriously.

After all, you are doing this to produce better quality music, right? Hence, the more you invest yourself in the rehearsal, the more you will get out of it because the result will be that much better.

This is a bit like the mantra of a truly great Taekwon-do instructor that I used to train under, Master Neil Franks. “Practice does not make perfect”, he would say. Huh? That was crammed down our throats by all teachers in the universe. Uh-uh: “Perfect practice makes perfect!”

Even though I earnestly recommend that it must be fun (I mean, otherwise, w.t.h.), focus and concentration whilst you are practising is not mutually exclusive to fun. In fact, you will find the opposite.

Do not practise when you play.

The other facet of the principle comes in at performance time. Believe me, as a lead guitarist, I know the temptation, only too well. The solo you have wrapped is now just way too boring, you reckon; and besides, everyone has heard it before, so it’s time for something new, right?


When you are performing, please, do not practise. This also means – do not play stuff, when all you are doing is gonna try and wing it, just to see if you can do it.

Performing is not like a tennis game, say, when you wanna see a forehand topspin blister past your opponent at the net, down the line – you know, big risk shot. If it happens, jeepers it’s a thrill. If it doesn’t work; well, you just lost a point, no huge problem there.

Dare try that when your band is at a gig, and I might just wager that you will lose more than a point – like, your reputation. Maybe it’s worse, when the band loses its next gig, or perhaps it’s only just your place in the band!

Here’s some amplification (haha, gettit?) of what I mean. Let’s take this as an example: you are learning how to tap. You’ve got some Van Halen video’s, you know EVH’s solo’s in your head, you’ve even acquired (Berklee wizz) Don Lappin’s awesome DVD ‘Two-Hand Technique’. What’s more, you can tap a bit, maybe simple arpeggios on one string, sort of thing, you get a bit of it right. Hey! Now you are ready to show everyone that you can tap.

Wrong! Big mistake! Resist the temptation, until you have got it buttoned down completely.  Look, again, I’m not saying you have to be able to play “Eruption” before you can work a simple, single bar of tapping into your solo in whatever song. You don’t have to be able to play like Don Lappin – that’s 25 years of ten thousand hours – to enjoy your soloing and make it interesting.

Just make sure that, whatever it is you play, you are not ‘trying it out’ – you know what I mean! Do not practise when you play.