Earlier this week I gave a talk on “how to rehearse” for a regional consortium of music educators. The following list formed the basis of our discussions. It’s by no means a complete or exclusive list, but we publish it here without further comment in hopes that some of you find it helpful.
Please share your thoughts about what makes a good rehearsal- whether working with beginners or the Berlin Philharmonic.
General Rehearsal Advice
- Know the music!
- Play first, show what you want, then talk
- Be yourself and rehearse the same way wherever you go. All ensembles need both your highest standards, and your utmost patience
- Give musicians information in the order they need it, ie “Before letter A, ten bars” rather than “10 bars before A”
- If you wait to work on musical details and style until you’ve solved technical problems, you’ll never work on musical details and style
- If you help the players understand the “why’s” of the score, they’re more likely to remember the “what’s”
- Teach your ensemble the difference between “rehearsing” and “practicing.” When you do have to turn a rehearsal into a practice session, make sure the musicians understand that this is not rehearsing
- Working on rhythm often fixes many intonation problems, and slow intonation work solves many rhythmic issues
- If you can write it in their music before the first rehearsal, do
- Rhythmic subdivision is not only a matter of accuracy, but of character
- Your ensemble might be the one setting in which a bright student really has to concentrate as hard as they can to do well. It’s up to you to teach them how much of themselves they need to give to the music
- Rehearsal planning and anticipating what you’ll need to work on is useful, but you can only teach your students/colleagues to be “in the moment” if you are.