Practice vs. Rehearsal I

To those who have given me feedback and encouragement on last week’s installment, ‘Thank You’. I welcome any readers to send comments or observations in the space provided at the end of this page.

When my wife noticed my subject for this week, she rolled her beautiful eyes and muttered: ‘Oh, Lord’. See what it’s like to live with me? She hears about this from me all too often.

I will first point out what is necessary to prepare as a professional musician. Yes, I realize that many of you are not interested in becoming professional musicians, but some of you are, and the rest of you will likely perform in some capacity in the future anyway. In my opinion, any performance, whether for family or friends, formal or casual, the level of preparation is the same.

This is what I mean:

1) A rough draft of a song list is created (currently about 200 songs for me);

2) I will choose about 30-50 tunes that have a similar theme or mood that I want to create for the gig;

3) I will practice, and then rehearse this material until I can play it to the best of my ability;

4) About 10-15 of these tunes will be set aside because I will need more practice to play them at the level I insist upon for myself than the rest of the tunes in the list;

5) I will likely play nothing else until the performance has occurred.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? There is really nothing more to preparing for a performance than those five things. The number of tunes needed for a performance always depends on how much time you need to fill. A song list of 15-20 tunes per playing hour is a safe level of preparation.

Did you notice that in step three I used the word practice and the word rehearsal?

Practice is what we do to become able to do a specific skill, such as learning chords, scales, sections of songs, solos, and etcetera.Rehearsal is when we put several skills together to perform a finished piece or concert.

Think of a jigsaw puzzle, (I hope we all know what those are; don’t make me look old here). Practice is making each piece of the puzzle; rehearsal is putting the pieces together and creating a defined picture. So, until we have put in enough practice, rehearsal is actually impossible. For those of you interested in being professional musicians, not being clear with these differences will keep you from being called again.

My point is: many of you can perform as a musician. One must only be able to play enough songs to entertain others for the length of time promised. That is all there is to it, and I would certainly encourage any of you to perform as soon as you want to and are prepared.

In subsequent installments, I will be more specific in regard to what we should do when we practice. It is important though, that I give you a basic understanding of the concepts of practice versus rehearsal. These are often not understood and have led to many complications for others in becoming the musicians they want to become.




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