5 steps to plan music rehearsals

The process of putting on a musical is much smoother when the music director makes a schedule of music rehearsals ahead of time.

Not all theaters ask for it but if you don't take the matter into your own hands, you'll end up either struggling to teach everything in twice less the amount of time the music needs, or time will be wasted because music rehearsals will be longer than they need to be.

Here are the steps to create a schedule that works.
  1. Rate every song in order of difficulty: I have a ranking system of three points, 1 for easy and 3 for hard. If the first half of a song is solo, followed by a chorus section, I rank each section separately.
  2. Estimate how long each song will take to be learned: Chorus songs average 1 to 2 hours to be learned, with a review of 20 to 45 min at a later date. Solo and duos may take as little as 20 min to be learned, particularly for songs that people already know, or as long as 1 hour or more for challenging songs.
  3. Put the songs that have the same musical material together: if the first song has a reprise in the second act, put them next to each other in your schedule, add up the hours you originally planned for them, and readjust. So if you the total time came to be 2.5 hours, 2h will probably be enough since it's the same music material, and since you're teaching it all at once.
  4. Organize your schedule by ensemble numbers, solo and duos: if you care about the order in which you teach the ensemble songs in, organize them by order of preference. Put the songs of each character together, to see if working on them in one rehearsal is a possibility or not.
  5. Send the schedule to the manager and the creative team: now starts the conversation of what days will rehearsal needs to happen on. If the show calls for difficult choreography, you might have to teach those songs in a different order than the order you put them in your preference list, so that choreo rehearsals can start sooner on those songs. You know what your needs are, and then you adjust them accordingly so they work with other people's needs as well.
Here are some examples of schedules I created, one for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and one for "Songs for a New World".


Photo from http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-los-angeles/scheduling-news-warner-bros-walt-disney-and-20th-century-fox-announces-release-dates


  1. thanks for the tips! I'll follow this and let's see if this can help me with my schedule

  2. Thanks Eric! Let me know how it goes!


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