4 minute rule

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Steve, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Rant time!!

    For those that weren't aware there is often a rule about time restrictions for perc players to set the stage for a contest performence, the maximum time allowed being 4 minutes.

    At this years Butlins top section contest on Saturday there was a problem with the equipment that caused a delay in bands getting ready and the officials started shouting at us backstage about the 4 minute rule being in force which was more than a little frustrating as you can imagine.

    When oh when is this rule going to be got rid of?? The perc set up for St Magnus is serious stuff and I dont think its fair to ask percussion players to go on a stage, familiarise themselves with kit they have never seen before and then lay everything out in the manner they want.

    Can you imagine the uproar if the British Open put 28 random brass instruments on the stage and said to every band "on you go guys, pick an instrument each, you've got 4 minutes until you start"!!! Brass players dont have to do it so why should the perc players be expected to do it.
  2. The Cornet King

    The Cornet King Active Member

    I really felt sorry for Redbridge at the weekend. The band were waiting on stage for what seemed like an age (probably more like 5-6 minutes) while the percussion was being sorted, through no fault of their percussion players. I think for a piece like St Magnus the 4 minute rule is harsh, perhaps for lower sections where the percussion is usually much more minimal it is still ok, but St Magnus is so demanding on the percussionists i think the extreme time was definately needed.

    I think in situations like that, when the band were sat doing nothing for a long while, the band should be allowed a few seconds to 'blow' because from them being backstage to actually playing their first note must have been a very long time.
  3. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Reading, UK
    I think there does have to be some sort of time limit. Otherwise, the timings of the day would go completely to pot, and we would end up with the crazy situation like when the finals were in Torquay a few years ago and the final band went on stage after midnight.

    However, I see no reason why this limit shouldn't be flexible based on how much setting up there is for the piece. If the piece only requires kit, glock and timps, then a short time is fine. For a piece like St Magnus, 4 mins is woefully inadequate.

    I also think that if there is a problem with the kit provided (like on Saturday) then the rule should be waived.
  4. Di

    Di Active Member

    At the Nationals (maybe the Midlands regional too, but I can't remember :redface: ), I seem to remember handing in a piece of paper with a percussion layout on it. The kit is all provided and so long as this plan is handed in at the draw the stage hands go and set all the kit up for you. :clap:
  5. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Further to Di's post, why not have more than just the percussionists go on stage to set up. At my old band there were maybe 7 of us who were nominated to help set up (this even includes "St. Magnus" in New Zealand). This ensures that if the percussionists know where they want each and every piece of equipment, from timps down to triangle, they can dictate to the nominated persons to move it. All it needs then is some "fine tuning" from the stick-hitters. This can even be practised and timed in rehearsals prior to actually getting to the contest stage.
    Just a thought.
  6. tinytimp

    tinytimp Member

    At contests, we do have a helping hand from a few extra people if needed, be it stage-hands or other players, and try to make sure that the band doesn't all pile on until we're about ready.

    I agree with the suggestions that time limits be set according to the requirements of the piece; I'm not familiar with St. Magnus so I don't know how much is actually needed, but 4 mins seemed like a really short time according to the other posts. Having the pressure of time constraints taken off would be great, for me at least (and I'm sure other percussionists would agree), as I hate to go on, set up and have to start playing straight away without having a little bit to get used to the particular instruments provided.
  7. Owen S

    Owen S Member

    We usually do the same thing if we can. It's especially useful when we play pieces with Salvation Army scoring at contests, since we sometimes play five solo cornets with two firsts and two seconds and need to move chairs and stands around too.

    The only problem is that we've often been told by organisers that only the percussionists are allowed on stage to set up. I have no idea why.
  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Many, many moons ago I played at the Action Research Youth Entertainment contest, at the QEH in Oldham. My mum was the band secretary at the time and as part of the preparatory paperwork she was asked to send a sketch of how the band wanted the stage set, including percussion. On the day there was an army of stagehands all with a copy of this sketch so they all knew roughly where everything had to go and we just needed a few representatives of the band to position everything accurately. It was done smoothly and accurately (by amateurs) in minutes. If bands faxed a diagram of their preferred layout to the contest organisers before the day of the contest and this diagram was disseminated to all the stage crew, surely this would make everyone's life easier?
  9. drummergurl's mummy

    drummergurl's mummy Member

    with drummergurl
    Pontins has a 6 minute rule, not sure about our local contests. We have never had any problems at contests, we have a person from each section setting the stage plus percussionists and other helpers as required. Plus the contest organisers always help with stuff and usually that nice man Ray Payne whose percussion stuff is used. Organisers always seem to wait for the nod from percussionists (or are we spoilt in the North West?)
  10. horn1

    horn1 Member

    Lees, Oldham
    That sounds the samw as what used to happen when the Youth Contest was run by Salford Uni (it may even have been the Action Research Contest, don't know I've slept since then!). The stage set up was organised by stage hands (usually percussionists) with drawings of where everything was supposed to go. This worked really well. Everyone also had walkie talkies so that timings were perfect (this was also much fun and we usually got told off for misuse every 30 secs!) they band very rarely had to wait anywhere for more than a minute or so and running over was virtually unheard of. I want to play in a contest like that!!!

  11. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    West Midlands
    I think the best way round this for ALL contests is to send a plan of the band in advance, that way a organised group/ team can soon set the stage out for you.
    i am sure it would cut down on time wasted at contests
  12. drummergurl

    drummergurl Active Member

    in the north west im fairly sure they dont enforce the 4 minute rule.. but it is there.

    i think this rule is very out of date. i can see why it is there, so it doesnt cause the contest to be running late. years ago the test pieces only required a snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, and timpani. maybe a few other small little things, but nothing like what gets used in test pieces now!

    some pieces i have played have needed timpani, tubular bells, buckets of water and extra tubular bells, an anvil (or a cars brake drum), glockenspiel, xylophone, numerous cymbals, tom toms.. the list is endless!

    to get all that sorted round to how you want it, and be ready to play in 4 minutes is adding unnecessary pressure!

    i always tend to draw a plan of where the percussion is set so that i can give it to the guys helping move percussion round! it does take a lot less time with more people helping.

    the 4 min rule should be scrapped!
  13. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    The most frustrating thing is to be told that the percussion equipment must not be moved out of position.... happens in a contest or two.... NOT good.

    I have mixed feelings on the 4 min rule.... it's nice to know that the contest organisers want to start and finish on time- that's understandable; however, some pieces you *need* more time to setup- even if it's just 30 seconds or whatever; although, if the percussion section know what they're doing, then it shouldnt really take much longer to set the section up... if you take some of your own gear then you get it out, setup and ready backstage so all you have to do is put it in place...

    A lot of contests now say that you "have to use what is on the list provided".... of course, you then have to adjust heights of things etc so it's comfortable for you- so, that takes a bit of time- say upto 10 seconds per stand... or you simply have put up with it as it is...
    Half the time, I don't trust some of the gear... snare drums particualary... dodgy... I've risked not taking my own on the odd occassion and have really regretted it... never again... another debate perhaps....

    I actually have found it annoying when in some contests non-percussionists (and I'm talking about organisers who hang out backstage) try and help with your setup- and they come up to you as soon as you go on the stage... "where do you want this?" etc... it can slow things right down and people just get in your way.
    I find it quicker to let the section sort itself out or have backstage helpers who are percussionists themselves. Then you can have a talk through with them as to "what goes where" just before you're due to go on stage, not when you're already on stage....

    At the end of the day however, it isn't the 4 minute rule that really is the issue here, it's points that get deducted if you go over it.... and that is what really should be scrapped!
  14. stopher

    stopher Member

    Agree with Nichola this was probably the best organised contest around - people showing you to your changing room, taking you to your rehearsal room, some tit in a yellow bib telling where you couldn't park.

    Seriously though, this was a well thought out contest - You could even park right in front of the contest in your bus, be met with a warm welcome, knowing that the car park was run with precision!!!!!!!!!!
  15. BbBill

    BbBill Supporting Member

    In the back o' beyond
    We usually put the section leaders onto the stage, each helping to carry on some of the percussion stuff, then they set out each of their respective sections. Normally when theyre done, they will help finish of setting up the percussion. They do it on a band night anyway, as all the stuff has to come out the cupboard, so they should know where it roughly goes!

    It seems to work alright, but we do a sketch too if its asked for or if we need it, but im not too keen on the stagehands barging in to set it all up themselves! Sometimes theyre more of a hinderence than a help, altho Ive been know to forget to set up a stand or a chair myself and then realising when everybodys on stage.....! :oops:
  16. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    Southport, Lancashire
    The lower section finals at Harrogate were similar, gang of stagehands asked where you wanted everything (band and percussion), all you had to do was walk on and start. And warm-up rooms, etc. Why can't all contests do this?
  17. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    San Angelo, Texas
    All this contest weirdness... and this is all fun again, how? ;) :D

    Nah - I know how music competitons can get. However, I find it a little disturbing to think that the authorities have gotten to the point of judging a band's efficiency at setting up and tearing down their stage set up. I understand the need for efficiency in transitioning from band to band, but really - docking points for busting an unrealistic time limit with impossible conditions like that?! Come on.
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