Ideas for places to rehearse?

Hmmmmmm! Any ideas?

I’m currently trying to get together with a pianist/keyboardist and drummer who are looking for a bassist to complete their jazz trio. I can jam with a keyboard player in a living room but having a drum kit usually necessitates a rehearsal space outside a private house …although I wonder if actually that would be possible if he played at super-quiet volumes at a time agreed with neighbours. Obviously this is more difficult in densely populated London than in a sparser populated place.

The problem is the rehearsal studios cost too much. It’s OK if you can factor the rehearsal room hire in to a well paying gig but how often does that happen? It’s amazing to me that London rehearsal studios are often fully booked at the prices they charge given how little money most bands are making on gigs.

Solutions? In the past I have tried:

  • forming drummerless groups which then also favours the burgeoning house concert scene
  • rehearsing in colleges or universities – when a member of a band attended or worked at an institution
  • rehearsing at a venue in the early evening before their peak hours (very kind of them)
  • unusual spaces such as community halls etc
  • not rehearsing at all (this has been the most favoured option – either that or really minimising rehearsal) – we learned tunes individually and then played them on the stand and communicated a lot via the web and shared audio files
  • OK, over to you guys, any ideas on this? Comments please!

6 thoughts on “Ideas for places to rehearse?

  1. Bite the bullet and pay for rehearsal rooms. Treat music for what it is unless you are a pro; a hobby. Split the costs across the whole band then it isn’t so bad; especially if you consider how much other people spend on their hobbies. (Or indeed how much I also spend on my other hobbies!)

    Being either Christian Socialist or Atheist Humanist Lefties in my last band we paid each in proportion according to their gross salary!

  2. It’s never been that clear cut Greg. I always figure if someone else is making something off my music I want a share – otherwise I don’t mind the charity stuff etc. For me, it’s semi-pro – at least for live work. With my family etc I don’t have a bunch of time/money to spend on rehearsals.

    If there’s a gig I really want to do musically, and it’s for free, then I will do the gig but that would be a major treat for me so it wouldn’t happen every week – similarly rehearsing. Earning money from gigs justifies me spending time doing them.

    • Don’t get me wrong. Apart from Church gigs then “you no pay I no play” is my mantra. But to me semi-pro means at least making enough money from an activity; music, sport, whatever, to at least cover the necessary expenses involved in your participation and preferable leave a few bob left over to treat those indoors for their indulgence of you. For me rehearsing, and the costs of travel to/from it, and hiring the space if need be, is just one of those expenses along with buying gear.

  3. Hi Phil, Glad to hear that you are playing regularly now!

    I’ve often rehearsed in basements of apartment buildings. If they have a storage area, or even an unused corner of the basement, that might be a good spot — even if you have to move equipment each time. Usually the basement is somewhat soundproof.

    The other option, if you can find a drummer willing, is to play at a whisper volume in the apartment (a friend used to call it ‘sneak bop’). But the drummer has to be willing to play brushes, and everyone has to keep the volume way down.

    Also, you can rehearse in an apartment if you cheerfully check with the neighbors (on all sides, top and bottom from you apartment) about when they might be gone all day. If they know what you are up to, sometimes they seem to open up to the idea of having people make some live music in their building. (Of course, sometimes people will freak out at the thought of live music next door).

    I find that if someone has a monthly rehearsal studio rental, that’s cool — but if you are having to pay by the hour, it usually turns into a stress-filled rehearsal situation — just get through the music, not conducive to jamming. Good luck.

  4. Wow – what great responses….thanks people. Here and Twitter and the forums I posted on I got some really helpful responses. We took John’s advice last night and rehearsed quietly at the pianist’s flat…and it was great – should be a very good new project; the people gelled; the music gelled; the sound gelled.

    The outcomes are: occasional journeys across school to a drum college we can use; a less expensive rehearsal studio in East London; a church hall which might be offered us a reasonable rent and a community room at a local arts centre. We are also looking into the possibility of rehearsing at a couple of venues.

    People have been so helpful on this. Thank you!

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