“Rehearsals can be fun, but they’re also serious business. Sure, it’s great to hang out and be a part of the gang, but the fact is rehearsals are about getting stuff done.” Those words of wisdom from guitar wizard Joe Satriani should ring true for any artist who desires a music career. But, all too often rehearsals are not taken very seriously. In fact, some acts treat rehearsal time like party time. However, if you view it differently and want rehearsals to achieve real results, this exclusive feature will give you the information you need. Five industry pros, with thousands of rehearsals behind them, offer insights and advice that will make your rehearsals count.
Recognized for his virtuosity on guitar, Rafael Moreira gained universal fame leading the house band for CBS’ Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova. He also performed with Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Paul Stanley (KISS), Don Felder (the Eagles), Pink, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Dave Navarro, Natasha Bedingfield, Tommy Lee, Sheryl Crow, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, Melissa Etheridge and many international superstars. Additionally, Moreira has graced the cover of Guitar Player magazine and was recently featured as the lead guitarist on The Voice and American Idol’s “Rock Week.”
This subject is very timely for you, isn’t it? You have a big show coming up.
Yes, my band Magnetico is opening for KISS in a couple weeks and we’re in the midst of rehearsals right now. Luckily we’re a trio, so scheduling is easy and we can put in the time we need.
How do you approach rehearsals for an important show like that?
Initially, I focus on the songs, which we’ll play two or three times. I try to avoid over-rehearsing because you can lose the “feel” that way. If you focus too much on the technical aspects, the emotional connection can suffer. Once we have the songs down, I try to build a set sequence that flows.
What do you consider when you’re sequencing a set?
First of all, you don’t have to stop after every song. Some songs can flow naturally into another song. You just have to pay attention to the tempos and the intros and outros. And, it really keeps the audience involved. I’ll block out where that flow can happen and build the set around it.
Do you rehearse your stage performance?
Of course… You have to be entertaining. I like doing certain moves and I’ll block those out in the set. I also know where I’m going to talk and, generally, what I’m going to say. You have to be prepared when you take the stage. It’s called a “performance” for a reason––you’re supposed to put on a “show.”
Do you allow for spontaneity?
You have to, especially with rock acts. Pop acts have hardly any spontaneity; their shows are heavily choreographed. With Magnetico there are places in some songs where we like to jam. So, we practice that even though each jam is different every time we play.
You’ve played many TV gigs. Is rehearsing for television different?
Most of those gigs are about reading charts and showmanship. But, reading charts takes away from your playing, and I want to “own” it. So I memorize everything and make it my own. That way I can add my own interpretation and focus on my performance.
What is the most common rehearsal mistake you’ve seen?
Wasting time because there’s no plan. Other times it’s the way rehearsals are conducted. For example, when Pro Tools tracks are used (like they are with 95% of pop acts), if the person directing the rehearsal isn’t efficient it could take a week, or more, to learn how to work with them.
Any special advice you’d like to offer?
Sometimes I like to rehearse without vocals––just the instruments to make sure everyone “knows” the music and their parts. That also helps us to get to know each other and anticipate what each one will do at any given moment. •