10 Tips to a Better Rehearsal, Part 2

We started a conversation about running a first-rate rehearsal in the previous post with Tips 1 – 4:

  1. Start on time.
  2. Be the most prepared person in the room.
  3. Plan out your rehearsal.
  4. Separate vocalists and instrumentalists for part of the rehearsal.

You can read the detail of those in Part 1. Here are two more of the ten tips:

5. Get Tech Support.

There are some ministries that require their techs (video, audio, lighting, etc.) to be at rehearsals, but many do not. If you don’t, you might want to consider it. Here are a few ways worship techs can play a vital role in your preparation:

  • Fertile Training Ground – your tech leaders can use the rehearsal time to teach newbies live sound, video and lighting without the pressure of Sunday morning.
  • Tweak Time – Let’s face it, the best time to experiment with the mid-sweep or the placement of the kick drum mic is decidedly not Sunday morning. So invite your techs out to use rehearsal as their “free-to-tweak” time.
  • Lyric Support – If you use a confidence monitor (aka stage display, etc), you might consider having a tech run that during rehearsal. It could help your vocal team be comfortable using it (aka, they might learn how NOT to stare at it).It’s also a good chance for the tech to learn how to change things “on the fly” as your team makes changes to arrangements, etc. Again, a great training/learning situation.
  • Cross-train – You’d love some tech support at your rehearsal, but you can’t really rationalize tying up two or three people for what one person could probably handle.Consider cross-training your techs so they can run both sound and video. All they really need to be able to do is give the team a monitor mix and advance the lyrics. Everything else at rehearsal is just icing.

Also, if you want to make the first tip happen (1. Start on Time), a rehearsal tech should come in a half hour early and make sure the stage is set and the system is on.

6. Listen only to new songs.

I’ve started to only listen to new songs at rehearsals. For awhile, we were taking time to listen to each song before we ran through it.

Bad idea.

For starters, it eats up substantial amounts of rehearsal time. If you listen to five songs, most averaging five minutes each, that’s nearly a half hour of your rehearsal gone. It’s not wasted time, but it’s also not the best use of our time.

It’s also coddled my team by enabling them NOT to do the work of listening and learning their part of the song. I now expect my team to listen and learn a song before they come to rehearsal, including the new songs.

Are we meeting that expectation yet? Nope. But we’re making progress. Remember, high expectations are just that – something to obtain. It’s a process, not a switch to flip.

I will often make the exception and use rehearsal time to listen new songs, or songs that were added at the last minute. In the latter situation, I don’t expect the team to learn a song if I only give them 24 hours to practice.

So use your best judgement on listening to songs in rehearsal. But during the listen-through, don’t be afraid to comment on the arrangement or parts you want them to learn. And stop and re-listen to to sections that might need extra attention.

And while you listen, don’t allow people to sing or play along. This distorts what others are hearing. And let’s face it, the offending players are likely just listening to themselves.

Not that I’ve ever done that…

Read Part 3

Jon Nicol