A Music Director's Epic Tale: Les Miserables

Chapter 7 : Rehearsals

7.4 - Rehearsing The Band

In parallel to the learning process going on with the cast, the band needed to get up to speed on the music. Neither the drummer (Mark) nor the bass player (Roy) had extensive prior knowledge of the show, so they were almost starting from scratch. Armed with the score and the reference recordings, they got down to doing their homework while the kids were having their first rehearsals with me. We first got together as a band about a month before the show opened. We rehearsed Act I with just piano and that went very well. Our next time together was with tracks, and that proved to be a lot more troublesome. As musicians who have decades of experience playing with other live musicians, to play along with a MIDI track can be very tricky. We also hadn't perfected the playing environment. What we discovered from that first band session with tracks was that visual monitoring was very important (having that second monitor makes a big difference) and the more that Mark & Roy could hear the tracks (especially the rhythmic elements) the better they could lock in.

Subsequent rehearsals went much better!

Doing this all over again, I think an improvement I could make in this area would be have the tracks created even sooner in the process, and give them to the musicians to rehearse with, thus making them more familiar with the actual sound and tempo of the tracks that will be used in the show.

Les Mis Pit Band

Photo of the pit band in the actual performance space at the theater. Left to right: Mark on drums, Roy on bass, and yours truly with all the gear. The mixer sat on top of the PC case, which in turn sat on top of a case holding the XV5080 and the Muse Receptor. The Fantom G7 keyboard sat to my right when I faced the stage, with the Alesis Q49 controller keyboard (and the score) sitting directly in front of me. Click on image to enlarge.