One of the first barriers most band’s face is the dilemma of finding a dependable rehearsal space. With the amount of noise that live musicians create, it can be difficult to find somewhere affordable, effective, and discrete to practice your craft.
Luckily, if you get creative, the list of potential places where a band can rehearse is quite long — especially if you’re willing to practice in front of an audience.
Although, when you start asking around, you might have to get used to hearing the word, “No” — don’t let that get you down. Eventually someplace will say, “Yes” and you’ll have yourself a merry little practice space that won’t piss off the neighbors.
So without further ado, here’s a list of 10 Practice Spaces For Bands That Have Nowhere To Rehearse:
- Skateparks & Rinks
- Storage Units
- Schools & Colleges
- Barns & Sheds
- Community Centers & Public Parks
- Garages & Basements
- Rental Studios
- Bars, Clubs & Restaurants
- Music Shops & Record Stores
If you’re doubting how the above list is possible, don’t worry, we can explain.
If you keep reading, we’ll walk you through each of the 10 rehearsal spaces on our list and elaborate on how you can get your band’s foot in the door, so you can get back to making some music.
1. Skateparks & Rinks
Skateparks serve as a great rehearsal space option for bands because of the like-minded atmosphere — skateboarding is just one of those things that go hand in hand with music and art.
Most skateparks occasionally host concerts and many privately owned parks will already have a sound or PA system in place. Some might also have a band practice schedule that you easily can ask to be added to.
Depending on how understanding the skatepark owners are, and what kind of space they have available, you might be able to access sections of the park after hours when no one is skating.
Some parks may have a storage room or construction area where you can set up and rehearse away from the 12-year-olds practicing their kickflips and tailwhips.
But more than likely, rehearsing at a skatepark means you’ll be rehearsing in a low-traffic corner of the park, in front of an audience of teenagers. Which can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it.
If your band is just starting out, you might not want to be work-shopping new songs in front of an audience of young critics.
If your band has been together a while, it might be a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone — you can rehearse and put on a subtle performance at the same time.
The main downside to rehearsing at a skatepark is there likely won’t be a safe place to store your gear.
Unless there’s a room or office where you can lock-up and trust that no one will break-in to damage or steal your equipment, you’ll want to load in and out after each practice session.
For the same reasons as skateparks, ice and roller skating rinks, and bowling alleys, are great options for band rehearsal spaces.
These types of event centers frequently host performances from live musicians, and if you’re willing to co-operate with the owners (and maybe play a few birthday parties), you’ll have a safe spot to rehearse and store your gear.
But if you aren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of rehearsing in front of a rotating audience of random teenagers, you might want to look into the next option on our list.
As long as you don’t have a claustrophobia problem, renting out a storage unit is a legitimate option for a band rehearsal space (or music studio).
2. Storage Units
If your band needs somewhere to practice, storage units provide a safe and affordable way to rent a small rehearsal space.
Believe it or not, people actually live in storage units — so rehearsing in one really isn’t that crazy of an idea.
Storage units are compact, convenient, and will double as a secure option for storing expensive music gear.
Although many storage units are not incredibly spacious, small storage units are always available and can be quite affordable month to month.
Most storage facilities also offer various size options, and although larger units will be more expensive, dividing the rent between band members can be an effective way to keep costs low.
Services like SpareFoot can help find and gauge which storage units in your area may be within your band’s price range.
If you do choose to go the route of rehearsing in a storage unit, the main issue you’ll need to resolve is whether or not your particular unit has access to electricity.
If your band utilizes mostly acoustic instruments you might not need to worry about power, but if your band has more of a traditional guitar/bass/ drums/vocals set-up, power will be a top priority.
If there isn’t an electrical outlet in or near your storage unit, you’ll need to get creative about finding other ways to provide power to your gear.
Take a look at what we suggest for heavy-duty circuit breakers, surge protectors, and battery power supplies.
You’ll also need to be conscious of other people’s space and privacy.
If you’re renting a storage unit right next to someone who regularly needs to move things in or out, you’ll likely be dealing with various noise complaints and potentially risk being locked out of your unit.
Hanging studio foam, acoustic panels, or even thick blankets will help dampen sound and keep your band off anyone’s shit list.
Finally, you’ll need to consider if an insulated, or climate-controlled storage unit is right for you.
In many areas, the temperatures during summer and winter months can have damaging effects on music equipment, especially if left unattended for long periods of time.
If you’re renting an indoor unit that isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures, you’re probably fine to rehearse in your storage unit year-round, but it’s certainly something you’ll want to discuss with your band.
3. Schools & Colleges
High schools and colleges have some of the most ideal settings for band rehearsal spaces.
If you attend a local university, reach out to the music or performing arts departments, they likely have designated practice spaces that can be reserved by students.
If there’s a rule that you need to be a music or performing arts major in order to reserve those spaces, make some friends in the music department.
Find someone who has access, and see if they’re interested in joining your band.
Pro tip: adding a band member that studies music will do more than just get you into a rehearsal space, it’ll make your band sound a lot better too.
If you’re not a college student, see what options there are at the local high school.
Most high schools already let community groups like book clubs, scout troops, and cultural associations use classrooms after regular hours to hold meetings and organize events.
See if any of your teachers played in bands when they were in high school (there’s probably a few), and ask if they’ll help you organize a fundraiser event or after school “club” to turn the cafeteria, or a classroom into a rehearsal space after school.
READ MORE: 12 WAYS MUSICIANS TAKE SHOWERS ON TOUR
When I was in high school, we used to throw at least two concerts a year in the cafeteria to raise money for the yearbook.
It was a classic “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation — we got a place to play, and the school got a little extra money to fund an expensive program.
After the first concert was a success, we convinced the principal to let us rehearse in the cafeteria after school, just like any other club or school sports team.
We also had a really cool drama teacher that liked giving kids the chance to perform.
He worked out this idea to have an open mic concert, during school hours, in the auditorium on the last day before each spring and holiday break.
Teachers throughout the whole school could choose to spend the day teaching students who had already checked out mentally for the break, or they could take the class down to the auditorium and enjoy listening to poetry and songs.
Those open mic days were also great opportunities to rehearse on school grounds after regular hours.
If you’re not a student, rehearsing at local schools and colleges might not be an option. But if that’s the case, there are plenty of other solutions to your problem on this list — just keep reading!
Similar to schools and colleges, churches often have extra space that can double as rehearsal space for bands.
However, the difference between churches and schools is that churches are privately owned organizations and aren’t obligated to host community events, clubs, or bands (although most do).
Developing the relationships needed to turn a local church into your own private rehearsal space is a bit of a long-game. But if you put in the time, it can be a reliable and safe place to rehearse with your band for years.
If you already attend a local church, volunteer your talents.
If your church has a worship/music program, see if you can join the band in some small way. You’ll make friends with other musicians, and those musicians will have connections to rehearsal opportunities at the church or in the community.
You can also talk to the pastor in charge of music, and if you’re respectful, you might be able to utilize the church’s designated music space for your own rehearsal needs.
Worst-case scenario, your pastor or church leaders decide that they can’t accommodate having any extra individuals hanging around and making music within its halls.
If your church doesn’t have a worship/music program, or any extra space available, ask around to see if anyone in the congregation has a barn or storage space that you could use to rehearse in.
You might be able to work out a deal where you and your band do some yard work for an elderly individual or spend a Saturday cleaning out the local hoarder’s garage, and in exchange, use their extra space to set up a rehearsal spot.
Which leads us to our next section, Barns & Sheds!
5. Barns & Sheds
If someone in your band has access to an old barn or shed, and you’re not already using it as a rehearsal space you might want to re-evaluate that decision.
In my opinion, a barn or shed is the best possible option for a low budget rehearsal space. Of all the options on this list, I would pick a barn over anything else, every time.
A barn is a perfect rehearsal space for bands because of one main reason: possibilities.
You could put in a stage, insulate and soundproof the walls, build a recording studio, leave your gear set-up — you could do anything you want!
The only downside, in my opinion, to rehearsing in a barn or shed is availability.
If you live in downtown LA, there probably aren’t any barns available to rent or renovate. But if you’re in a more rural/suburban area, you’ve got a much better chance.
Maybe it’s just a midwest thing, but where I went to high school in Michigan, it seemed like every other kid I knew had an old barn on their family’s property that was completely misused.
I knew dozens of kids who had a barn that was never used and only stored an old, broken-down car or boat that needed a new motor and wasn’t going to be fixed anytime soon.
You’d think those barns would be homes to horses or cows, but most barns that I knew of were just used as a second garage, to store rusty tools and the only animals living inside were wild raccoons.
There were a few kids I knew, in a Myspace band called So Let Go!, that put together an actual stage in their drummer’s parents’ barn and hosted their own shows every few weeks.
Also, in college, there was a kid I knew that bought an old house with huge shed, and built an open room recording studio where his band recorded, rehearsed, and even hosted a few shows.
The other great thing about rehearsing in a barn or shed is if you don’t have the building, but you have the land, you can build, rent, or buy a shed for the average price of an American made guitar.
If you don’t think it’s possible, check out this series of videos that show the process of building drum studio from the ground up!
6. Community Centers & Public Parks
Another great option for bands that have nowhere to rehearse, is to utilize local community centers and public parks.
Community centers are made for the public to use — people host weddings, parties, farmer’s markets, pop-up events, and all kinds of things at local community centers.
As long as you go through the process of reserving the space with the right people, you can use community centers for almost anything you want — including setting up to rehearse with your band.
You won’t be able to leave your gear set-up, or reserve the space for long periods of time, but for a few hours here and there a community center could be the perfect option for some bands.
Another option for a temporary rehearsal space is to just set up at a public park. I’ve seen dozens of parks with small amphitheater-style stages that sit empty for months at a time and get used once a year for a community fair.
If you need a place to rehearse, drive down to the local park, load in the gear you need, and play.
Double-check the local laws on busking and make sure it’s not illegal to play music for the general public. If it’s not a privately owned park, or there are no local laws against busking, you’re good. Put on a show!
If awkward couples can use public parks to grope each other on picnic blankets, and dogs can piss in the grass, then you can rehearse with your band for a few hours — the Karens and Chads will get over it.
7. Garages & Basements
Might seem like a no-brainer but it has to be mentioned — garages and basements are fantastic places for bands to rehearse.
Probably the oldest trick in the book of how-to-start-a-band is to turn a dirty old garage or basement into a rehearsal space.
I personally have played in more basements than I can even remember. They’re private, safe, have electricity, and as long as everybody in the house is OK with it, you don’t ever have to worry about noise complaints.
If you’ve got a garage or a basement, I don’t know why you’re even reading this because you’ve got a rehearsal space right under your own nose.
Whatever your excuse is for not using your own garage or basement to rehearse with your band, it’s probably an easy fix.
If you’ve got Christmas decorations, or bicycles, or a freezer that smells like death, just clean everything out and move the band in.
You can always find storage space somewhere else, so if rehearsing with your band is your top priority, you’ll find a way to make it work.
The only reason I can think of for not using a garage or basement as a rehearsal space is if you live with roommates that won’t appreciate the noise, and even in those situations, you can always look into soundproofing.
There are countless videos online with step-by-step instructions of how to turn a garage, or basement, into a rehearsal space or studio.
But, if you’re bound and determined to find an alternative option, that’s what this list is for — see if you can find something else!
8. Rental Studios
In certain parts of the country where making a career out of music is more than just a dream, there are studios and rehearsal spaces specifically designed for musicians, that you can rent for as little or as long as you need.
I’m talking about major metropolitan areas like LA, New York, Nashville, anywhere that you might, on occasion, brush shoulders with the bands and artists we all know and listen to.
These types of spaces can accommodate all types of musicians, and if you can get your hands on one, are probably the best option logistically for any band or artist.
However, professional recording and rehearsal studios are not cheap. When music is a business, it’s also a way to make money off the business.
I wouldn’t say that there aren’t affordable options out there, but if your band is in a situation where you’re pinching pennies, a professional studio/rehearsal space probably isn’t going to be your number one option.
But, if you’re serious about making a career as a musician and want the best for your band, it’s a really great option. You’ll just have to decide where your priorities lie.
There are also open room studios (not specifically designed for musicians) all over the country.
I’m not talking about the vocal booth recording studios with the enormous 200 channel mixing-boards like you see in rock & roll biopics.
I’m talking about empty room “studios” that can be used for anything — photoshoots, dance classes, yoga workshops, pop-up art galleries — these kind of spaces are always available for rent, anywhere you go, and are usually pretty affordable.
If you’re not sure what options are near you, just type “Studio Space For Rent Near Me” into Google and see what comes up! You might be surprised what you find.
9. Bars, Clubs & Restaurants
Sometimes it’s best to practice where you play. That’s why athletes, thespians, dancers, and dozens of other groups all practice on the same fields, stages, and platforms where they perform their craft.
But for some reason, musicians hardly ever practice in the same setting that they perform in — on a stage in a venue.
Maybe it’s because of the touring dynamic, and rehearsing on a different stage every night would be difficult to organize. Or maybe it’s because people don’t usually want to pay to see a band rehearse.
But for bands or musicians that have the luxury of frequently performing in the same venue, it’s not too far of a stretch to also find ways to rehearse in those venues.
For example: bars, clubs and restaurants. Great places to play — great places to practice.
Some of the best venues I’ve ever played in are bars. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized how amazing it would be to also rehearse in those same bars.
If you think about it, most bars and clubs are closed during the day, so there’s nobody around to disturb, and it gives you the opportunity to rehearse not only what you’ll play but how you’ll play it.
I remember in high school my family used to love going to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. My parents liked the classic rock vibe, my siblings liked the food, and we all loved the occasional tribute-band that would play.
On the nights that there wasn’t a band (which was most nights), I always thought it was strange that the stage remained set-up.
There was always a drum kit, amps, guitars, microphones, stage monitors, and everything else all plugged in and ready to go.
But as many times as I saw that gear, I never once saw a band rehearsing with it, not even in the middle of the day at lunchtime.
When bands came through, the restaurant unloaded the stage, and the band set up their own equipment.
The stage gear belonged to the restaurant, and it was only really there to add to the atmosphere — they were props.
But imagine if you had a regular gig at Hard Rock, every Thursday night at 9 PM or something.
It wouldn’t make sense to have to load-in and load-out your gear, and make the restaurant load and unload their stage props when everyone is just going to have to do it again the following week.
If you’re the only band that’s going to be performing for a while, it would make a lot more sense to just use one set of gear.
And if all that gear is just sitting there, collecting dust seven days a week, you might as well get a little rehearsal time in when the kitchen staff is getting ready for the day, or cleaning up for the night. Right?
You’d have to jump through some hoops and have a good relationship with the manager of the restaurant, but after a few shows that tends to happen organically anyways (especially if you can pull a good number of people in to buy drinks).
If everybody walks away happy, a bar, club, or restaurant can be a great place for bands that have nowhere else to rehearse.
10. Music Shops & Record Stores
Sometimes the best place to make music is where music is sold.
All over the country, music stores that sell instruments offer music lessons and have spaces where musicians-in-training can set up and get loud.
The shop where my parents bought me my first guitar was called Limelight Music, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Limelight was run by a group of older, rock and roll dudes that had spent decades on the road. They knew how to play their instruments, but they also knew the industry inside and out.
All the older kids that were in bands hung out there, and there was constantly a pile of skateboards just inside the front door.
I remember when we were waiting in line to buy the little Squier Strat that I had chosen as my first guitar, I noticed that the guy standing in front of us had his arm all bandaged up from what looked like a pretty recent accident.
One of the shop owners recognized this bandaged bad-ass and asked him what had happened.
Without any hesitation he looked over at me and said, “Knife fight.”
I was speechless. To this day, I have no idea if he was joking or serious because I didn’t hear another word of that conversation. The words “knife fight” just rang in my ears like a foghorn.
The next day, I asked my mom for a switchblade and she laughed at me.
But that was the type of shop Limelight was — incredibly intimidating, but also thrilling to be around. There was an energy at that store that I couldn’t get enough of.
Eventually, I started taking lessons from this biker dude named Tony. Tony loved grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and probably took four smoke breaks every time we had a lesson.
He taught me my first power chords and introduced me to bands like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Santana.
After a while, I got bored of just practicing songs alone in my bedroom and showing up to lessons to show Tony what I’d practiced.
I don’t remember if it was Tony’s idea or mine, but we found a couple of other kids my age that took lessons at the same time, including my brother, and we moved into the room where they taught drum lessons because it was the biggest.
In that room, Tony taught us how to play together. He taught us how to listen to the other instruments and how to jam like a real band. He taught us how to write songs and how to transition between them on stage.
He encouraged us to enter the first battle of the bands I ever played in and was backstage with us when we didn’t even come close to winning.
Like most bands, we all kind of went our separate ways, but Tony and Limelight had given me everything I needed to spend the next decade starting bands.
It wasn’t until college though, that I remembered what a resource that practice room in the back of Limelight had been for us.
In my senior year, I joined a band called Deniston. The entire band was college students, and we all lived in campus housing — we had nowhere to rehearse.
I remembered my middle school days at Limelight and pitched the idea to the other guys in the band to see if Mike’s Music, the local music shop in town had any rehearsal rooms we could rent.
Just like Limelight, they had a space in the back of the shop for teaching music lessons, but it had been turned into storage because they didn’t have anyone to teach lessons.
For $20 a month, and after about 15 minutes of moving boxes into the hallway, we had a place to play and a safe place to store most of the band’s gear.
If you’re willing to pay a little bit of money, or maybe even teach a few lessons, music shops, and record stores are a great resource for bands that have nowhere to rehearse.
See if your local shop has any space available, flesh out a deal that works for everyone. You never know, it might be the perfect place for your band to set up and play.
Can My Band Practice Online?
Hopefully in the near future bands will be able to practice online without any lag or latency, but right now it’s just not possible. With 5G wireless technology just over the horizon, the future of remote band rehearsals and jam sessions over Zoom is closer than you might think.
Is Busking Illegal?
In many places, busking is legal and considered free speech. Police officers and other authorities can not prohibit an individual from exercising their freedom of speech, through the form of busking, in public spaces. However, not all public spaces are public property. You can be fined or arrested if you busk outside a place of business without the permission of that business or its owners.
How Often Should My Band Practice?
In order to remain familiar with their material, many bands practice once or twice a week. However, how often your band practices or rehearses is entirely up to you. Consider the needs of your band and its members. If you’re comfortable with your setlist and don’t plan on making any changes, you may not need to practice every week. If you regularly add or remove songs from your set, you might want to practice more frequently.