Rehearsal Etiquette


Junior Member
So, a bit of history first...

I'm 30 - started playing guitar at 14, got pretty good, was in bands pretty seriously until about 25/26. Starting playing drums for my borthers doom band, nothing serious, skill was more in keeping a steady slow tempo then crazy rolls and fills. Didn't last long until we inevitably fell out :) After that, I stopped doing anything musical pretty much until 6 or 7 weeks ago.

Big rock band in the city was missing a drummer, I knew majority of the members so I stepped up. Did the first gig a couple of weeks back (i pick arrangements up pretty quickly), nothing too elaborate, but I was rock steady all the way through. Complements followed (blushes).

What I don't get is the rehersals though. Rehersals are different with this band to others, less sructured for a start. I think that's down to everyone being in their 30's rather than their twenties though. No time spent in pubs inbetween as some have familes, so time required for catchin up etc. Plus no-one comes with a full song, just maybe a riff.

Biggest thing is I'm playing a new instrument though, so am unsure how to behave.

The main problem I have is when we're working on new stuff. We'll get a jam going over a riff, they're all working out their parts. I'm concious that I need to be keeping a pretty steady beat at this time, else they're going to be stop starting while I fumble through ideas. Once they're all sorted, we get on with constructing the track.

What's the standard here. Do I...

1. say "right, now i need to jam over this sh1t"
2. jam over it while they're working out their parts, and let them deal with it
3. crack on with what I'm already doing, and work out my bits in my own time (doesn't always work out that well as their rythm eventually gets lost in the ether).

Think I'm hindered a the moment as a lot of the time has been spent picking up stuff that they've been playing for some time. Plus I'm practicing stamina a lot (stuff like stome killer), and only get to a proper kit outside rehearsals once a week for 2 hours.

So what's a drummer to do?


Silver Member
Welcome to the wonderful world of drumming!

I am 51, and in my experience, it doesn't change as you get older. I did, however, appreciate your bringing this up because it is annoying and frustrating.

I know you are new in your band, but try playing the role of band leader - passively so as not to come across as overbearing. I wouldn't try to play anything at all if others are just screwing around with their parts. All that does is add to the cacophony. Wait until things settle down, then click off another take and work out your part as the band plays the song through. If you sit there silently, eventually the others will most likely shut down on their own without you even having to ask them. Guitar players have a hard time playing too long without a groove beat. As you get better, they will look to you to cue changes and form the structure. It takes time. Hang in there and keep us posted on how it goes. I'm sure you will find a way to get it done!

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Biggest thing is I'm playing a new instrument though, so am unsure how to behave...

...they're all working out their parts.

1. say "right, now i need to jam over this sh1t"

So what's a drummer to do?
Hi bebn

First thing first, welcome to the forum and you have started the most beautiful instrument in the world.

I read the story, and from what I can tell, your band needs a bit of an "agenda" whitin the rehersal session to be able to progress as a whole band together.

You're playing a new instrument, and you're a "new" member of the band, and this can make you a little shy, if you know what I mean.

During the rehersal, you said "they're all working out their parts", well, then you'll have to use your No1 option and say: Hey, guys, I need to do my part as well.

The drummer is part of the band, to the same level as the guitarist, the singer, the bass player, etc. The drummer's also the fondation of the band, he provide the road for others to drive on it. If the road is bad, you can't drive properly, and if the road is not ready, then you can't drive at all.

Just let your band mates know how you feel about this, they should understand...

Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Doctor Dirt

Lets see we haven't reheased EVER so the phone for me and the net for them (bass & guitar players) works well. The bass & guitar have been together since the mid eights so theres not much need to rehease. I came in around 1995 and filled in for their drummer (guitars brother) as he made a family and started a business. He never came back after 98 I think, so...................................
Heres how it goes. The chord and vocal people get together and wood shed the song. They get it down and have the arraingment they want too. They call you up and set up a "Band" rehearsal and your good to go.
I ran a traveling show band for many years and my rehearsals were set up by the "sections" of the band. I did my vocals with my rythmn section, then brought in the horns and lead work and it was much easier to maintain interests and focus instead of working on hits (accents) with someone there who had nothing to do what we're working on. I think your dealing more with the "night out" rehearsal. Having an idea how to rehearse sure saves some people time. If your never taught how to do it then your a drummer wasting an evening while the dreaded guitar player or worse guitar playerS poke around and try to figure things out. Not ME!!! Good luck but if you get tired of the BS just suggest that THEY get it right then call for a full band night with the chords and arraingment learned and now we're adding the drummer to tie it all in. good luck, Doc


Senior Member
Sounds like writing new music to me, my band works in a similar way.

We usually warm up with one or two of our older songs, then well start working on our new stuff.

Someone will come in with a riff (or i might mouth-guitar a part ive had on my mind) then the guitar players will run it back and forth and build on it, while the bass player and myself kinda hang around tossing in input. Then when were ready for everyone to jam it, well kick it on full volume and run with it, cue lots of stopping, input, the occasional laugh and joke as well.

I used to be of the mindset where i would just keep a simple groove through the whole thing, until the song was completed, then add in fun stuff here and there. But this round, im just going for it, and the band has stopped the "oh no, drummer messed up, stop the song!" and just deal with sloppiness at my end.


Platinum Member
I think the way to go is to do your homework with #3, sorting out the rough outline of the arrangement. Once you have an idea of the flow and length of the song then you can move to #1.

Do you guys record the band practices?


Senior Member
I kinda understand the frustration. Its usually best to let them pick it out and then put your part in. I was in a band for a very short time that had no structure. I lived about a hour away from the practice space. I would get there and the two guitarist would have some ideas. They would work on them for hours sometimes. And they would let you know to be quiet while they worked. After about 4 practices, where i sat and never played my drum, I quit.

Jim Mattingly

Senior Member
Haha, great and very touchy subject I am sure most of us have experienced or are still dealing with. I have been playing for a number of years, giving it up for quite a few years to get the kids raised, blahblahblah. I have been going through this scenario ever since I began playing. I decided quite a few years ago that if I feel it is a waste of my time I will just not deal with it and move on. Reason being, I am now 50 and I don't have the time to waste anymore. Even in the band I am with now we are all seasoned musicians and we all mesh very good and quickly got a feel for each other's playing, very important. I will typically let the other members work out their parts at rehearsals but I will speak up if it is wasting time. Although rehearsals are for working out problems and fine tuning a song it should be expected that everyone needs to come to rehearsals prepared having done homework. You may also want to suggest that the (typically) bass player and guitarist(s) get together separately to work out their parts in preparation for rehearsals. We are at a point right now that we rarely have rehearsals, unless we are bringing on new material, even then we all have the understanding that if you want to play a song it is your responsibility to get that song to the entire band before we even work on it. Now working on originals is another beast which obviously requires more time. SO are you doing covers, originals or a combination of both ??? I could go on and on about this but am opting to stop now, good luck and hang in there, but only if you feel it is worth the time and effort...we all also understand that it does require WORK, but you can also have fun WORKING.


"Uncle Larry"
That's just one of the things that goes with being a drummer, putting up with people who don't know their parts. In my mind, you have 2 choices.

Just suck it up and be their beat so they can work stuff out. You could record the practices, like Pol alluded to, and get your part (mentally) together by listening to the recordings. Besides, they need their parts worked out before you can fit it with a drum part, right?

Or you could...

Take the bull by the horn and gently explain to them how practice is SUPPOSED to go, it's not fair to you, how would they like it if the situation were reversed, blah blah blah, and try and take control a little.

Most guitar players I know don't like an uppity drummer that tries to gain control, so I just end up doing #1 and just roll with things. Whatever.

However there may be another angle..You could try to shame them into being prepared... do it after practice. You're not making demands, but you are calling them out a bit, nothing wrong there IMO. The guy with higher standards should prevail....I think being *slightly* perturbed will yield better results than trying to take control. Like talking about your rehearsal and saying something like "I would never have the audacity to come unprepared for a rehearsal and make everyone cater to me while I try and learn my parts, that's just plain inconsiderate, and not fair to the prepared people.

Put it on them. Getting mad is a great tactic for getting what you want. If you try and run the show, it probably won't go well, but if you are upset, that's different. Most people want to make the upset person...not upset anymore.

You can just say that you're calling them like you see them. For some reason, people let you get away with saying almost anything, if you preface it with that line.

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Not sure my rehearsals are the same, most of the time they are much more formal and I am just the hired guy, so I sit and obey orders, lol. I tend to play only when asked to. So if they are working on a part for the guitarist or bassist, just ask if they want you to keep the beat under what they are working on. Sometimes it helps them out, sometimes not. In those cases, I keep it simple and just keep time.

I try to come into every rehearsal as prepared as I can be, so I spend a lot of time on songs on my own outside of the bands. If it's something that I need to work on, i'll flat out ask, "hey, can we go over this a few times so I can get it down." After all, that's what rehearsals are for right?


Senior Member
For my rehearsals/practices I pretty much follow a format. I just started a new band a few weeks ago and we are starting from scratch writing all new music so when we get together songs just start coming. Basically when they come at me with a song or riff I have them play it once to get the feel of it then I just establish the tempo. I don't go for the most elaborate thing just play what comes to me. After practice I have the guitarist do a rough recording nothing special of the song and email it to me....Then on my own time I write more intricate stuff that accents better. I don't know about others but I feel I'm not going to come up with whats perfect for that song right then and there the first time hearing it.


Platinum Member
Main question to tell 'etiquette' ... this to be your main source of income?...or is it recreational/optional for financial survival?

If its a primary source of income, apply real world employment ideas.
-Tracking Attendance
-Tracking Finances
-Written contracts
-copywrite ownership
-financial/decision making authority determination

If its not a primary source of income, you can be as loose as you care to be.(or as structured.. : )

Managers can be a good thing!


Gold Member
When I was in my teens and joined my first real working band one of the older musicians told me: "Treat rehearsals like a job and the gigs will be a vacation", meaning that if you put the work in at rehearsal then you wont be worrying about about parts or changes during the gig, you can just play, have fun ,put on a show and perform without having to think about it.