Long practices are particularly hard on time-strapped musicians during Christmas. Use these simple steps to keep practices focused and on schedule:
1. Call all members the week before. Communicate to each band member what you want them to practice, so they show up prepared.
2.Prep everything beforehand. Print out all chord charts and lyrics, set up the projector slides, make sure all of the gear works, etc.
3. Sit down with the vocalists before the practice. Decide on keys, make sure they can reach the high notes, and assign who’s singing what.
4. Set a start time, and be rigid. If someone is constantly late, deal with it head on by confronting them privately after the practice.
5. Do a sound check. Even if your gear is always set up, make sure to run a quick sound check to test monitors so everyone can hear.
6. Use the 3 step rule. Run through the song once without stopping, work on a few trouble spots, then repeat again with no stops.
7. Allow people to self correct. Unless you hear the same mistake several times, don’t worry about it. Let the musicians fix it.
8. Don't go on tangents. Don’t let distractions derail the practice. There’s always time to socialize after the practice time.
9. Keep practices short. Set a time that you can go through everything at least twice with a few pauses for trouble spots, and no more.
10. Set an end time, and stick to it. Don’t run long unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. Respecting people’s time will keep musicians coming back.