It isn�t how much time you spend rehearsing. It is how efficiently that time is used. A director told me once, �The band and I have been holding rehearsals every night after school for three weeks. We�ve really been working. This ought to get the job done!.� Did it?
No, because the band was just practicing more on the same mistakes and bad habits. Just playing the three selections over and over will certainly familiarize the students with the printed music score, but it won�t get the job done.
Contest acts as a grade on your entire concert program which is why band directors spend so much time � polishing� those three numbers. Although it may not be always entirely accurate, it certainly is one way to evaluate what the director has been teaching. In recent years in most states, district ratings have generally become Superior, Excellent, And Good. Too much is dumped into Excellent, and if you receive a Good, you better go have a chat with your college band director; you really didn�t prepare or did not solve the problems. You need help in evaluating yourself and your techniques. If you don�t enter contest because of the stress, at least have someone come over and guest conduct your band once a year and discuss what you are doing.
We all need some sort of evaluation to � keep motivated and on target.�
Plan your rehearsal each day in detail. Plan for more than you anticipate being accomplished. Get a rehearsal notebook. Keep it in the conductor�s folio of scores. Example: March�first strain. Take it apart: counter-melody, trombones/baritones�play. Have all melodic parts play then listen for unisons. Are we in tune?
Demonstrate again? Then have rhythm parts�horn, basses, percussion. play. Listen for emphasis on downbeat and correct notes in horn chords. ALL PLAY TOGETHER. The result of this exercise should show the students how the march is constructed, teach them to listen to how and where their individual part fits in, and listen for intonation in unisons. If there is a short technical passage, isolate it and play it 5 times in a row quickly. �If you can play that 5 times in a row correctly, you will be able to play it anytime you concentrate on it
This is how you practice technical passages. Slowly, repeat 5 times in a row correctly, then increase the tempo, repeat 6 times in a row correctly, etc.
What is the most efficient way to organize a rehearsal? Get the notes first, then the rhythm, style and intonation, generally in this order. Strive for contrast in tempi. dynamics. and style. This is your goal. All directors need a definite detailed plan for each daily rehearsal. Start the rehearsal with tutti exercises, sightread an easy tune, then TUNE. The meat�(carefully rehearsed music) is in the middle). Do not keep the band sitting for long periods of time while you are working on one section. This is what sectionals are for! Keep the band involved and interested! End with fun band playing. Begin and end the class on time. Bill Revelli�s famous quote � Every rehearsal is a concert� should be carefully considered. Al Wright�s well-known commentm �When you stop the band, tell them WHY you stopped and HOW to fix it� also has considerable merit.
You want the band to be confident in the performances? Real confidence comes from the individual student�s mastery of the the music. An individual test on individual parts GRADED, scheduled with plenty of time to practice BEFOREHAND, will usually do the trick. Here you can check articulation, correct notes, phrasing, etc. A band part should be played as well as a solo performed at the solo and ensemble contest.