About 4 months before we play the PCDC dance, I mail out the set list. We draw from the 3 volumes of The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest, from tunes that band members and I have encountered since the publication of The PCs, as well as from tunes written by band members. The tunes are posted on the Megaband website in a format that is easy to download and print out. In years past, Betsy Branch and I have recorded files (downloadable mp3 format) with all of the sets played clearly at a tempo slightly below dance speed. Band members have found these recordings very useful for learning the tunes. There are 7 rehearsals for the dance beginning in early January. Each of the first 6 rehearsals lasts 2 hours and is held on Sunday afternoon from 3 – 5. The final rehearsal on the Sunday before the dance lasts from 1 – 5. In the rehearsals, we work mostly on playing as a group and getting the right “feel” for the music. Band members should plan on attending all of these rehearsals. I think that everyone finds them to be fun, and the end product is very rewarding.
In addition, band members sometimes host informal rehearsals to work on the tunes, and sectionals are sometimes offered by various band members or me.