..........speaking as a musician of wide experience, and as a multi instrumentalist, there is something about Brass band conductors that never ceases to infuriate me, something which, generally speaking, conductors in other ensembles are not guilty of, I refer to the failiure to give cues to percussion players. Just how many acres of blank manuscript, iether side of a solo percussion entry, would it take for the average brass band conductor to be forced to acknowledge the presence of the two or three long suffering skin bashers at the back of the band? God help any poor sod of a kitchen sink merchant like me if i miss an entry, then of course old "Napoleon" is on you like a ton of bricks!!! which of course begs the question, if dear old "Adolf "knew I had missed it, why could he not give me a ****** cue? or even just a clue? is it too much to ask you to stop waving your arms in the solo cornet players face (even when he or she is not playing) occasionally and look out over the horizon to the back of the band and give some assistance to hapless percussionist poised over a six foot diameter tamtam with a padded sledge hammer? This barely concealed contempt for percussion players manifests itself in other ways as well. For instance,failing to count in a piece on a concert, or if it is counted in, its generally done with hands low down and in a barely audible whisper. Of course the solo cornet gets a clear view of all this, but the drummer is left squinting, half standing, with both ears cupped looking like David Attenbourgh searching for fruit bats the rain forest. No prizes for guessing who's "fault" it is when the band starts in three different tempos, its NEVER old "STALINS" fault of course! All unmarked changes in tempo are by default met with evil stares from uncle Joe Stalin at the percussion section, even when we are not playing!!! (I am not making this up guys it happens all the time) It stands to reason in Stalins mind that if its a tempo problem of any kind it MUST be the drummer who is causing it. Annoying as it is to be falsely accused in this fashion,it is at the same time gratifying to discover that "Ghengis" DOES AFTER ALL KNOW WHERE THE PERCUSSION SECTION IS SITUATED!!! Memo for all brass band conductors:- 95% of the time, unmarked and unwanted fluctuations in tempi are caused by PEOPLE PLAYING BRASS INSTRUMENTS. These changes in tempo are made worse by YOU THE CONDUCTOR, who more often than not will follow the bands change of tempo in slavish bovine style for minutes on end. The drummer, of course watches as the look of bewidered confusion on the conductors face slowy changes to one of spiteful venemous hatred directed at the drummer (who else?). One way try and counter this is to keep playing at the conductors original tempo, in the hopes that the band will pick up speed again or slow down as the case may be, after all, lets face it lads and lasses of the percussion department, its "our job to keep time" right?.......WRONG!!!.....you are so wrong!!....what happenes next is I get...wait for it......A CUE!!! sadly its only another flash of spiteful venemous hatred indicating that I have speeded up!!......see? you just cant win. If you play a piece with this recurring problem for long enough (this may take years with some of the, even slower on the uptake, tinpot dictators) your conductor may cotton on to the real reason, and may realise that the drummer is keeping perfect time and the rest of the band are rushing their tricky little entries and wallowing indulgently in the easy bits. The conductor may even go as far as to point out this problem, will you the drummer be getting any thanks?...er......not ****** likely. Drum "Solos":- its hilarious to watch "Our Dear Leader" dishing out the sycophantic groveling, when goody two shoes, on what ever end chair, does his usual tedious solo, normally some futile meanderings on a feeble hymn tune. You just cant stop the arrogant gestapo like manners of the conductor from dissolving in to a doe eyed state of post orgasmic extasy, as he leads the audience in applause, fawning and back slapping the great master as he completes yet another leaden tired rendition of "Napoli". Any one who stands up and blows down a curly brass metal tube can expect the same gushing smarmy flattery from Napoleon (even if he is secretly planning on busting you down to "none playing librarian"). Of course, its a very different story for the drummer, and i have experienced this many times. A good example is a piece called "Strike up the band"( arr Goff Richards) I have played this many times under many conductors.It is undeniably, irrefutably, patently, obviously A DRUM SOLO FEATURE at least, I thought it was, normally even the band members will grudgingly admit as much, and with out doubt the audience know it is a drum feature.......alas.......the view from "the bridge" is very different, the lonely commander, surveying the big picture on the high seas of the brass band world has no time for such frivolity. It matters not to the great one that the piece consists of great chunks of unaccompanied, frantic, deafening drum solos, he cares not how much work you may have put it to preparing your solo, he will not marvel at your dazzling display of dexterity or your endless powers of improvisation, the audience can clap and scream and jump up and down as much as they like.......Napoleon wont even bother to look at you, let alone invite you to take a bow.....the most you can hope for is a cue, probably the two fingered variety. Two more bits of advice for the national association of baton weilding despots:- 1. The only known form of percussion cue for most conductors is also utterly pointless and terrifying for the percussion player on the recieving end, and it is the habit conductors have of simply stopping, arms dropping to his sides, looking down at the score......WHAT THE **** DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING????!!!!.....the poor old skin basher is standing waiting to come in and could, like other players just do with that extrat bit of insurance that a glance or a raised eyebrow can give....FAT CHANCE......a favourite piece for this type of stupidity is "Procession to the minister" at the end. Keep beating you stupid clowns!!! the side drummer needs to know where he is even if the rest of the players dont. 2. Ad lib Drum fills:- especially those at or near the end of a piece. There is a clue for all you Napoleons in the term "ad lib" meaning "at liberty"......or....shock horror for Napoleon!!! control passing from your lordships to the humble drummer, and of course, thats where i suspect the problem lies for martinette stick wavers. Let me explain; 1. give the drummer a clear cue (if you can possibly bare it) 2.The drummer will then take control and perform a drum fill, by all means have a chat in rehearsal about how long or short you want it to be (if you cant bare having to speak to the drummer, write to him)3. On a pre ordained signal from the drummer......NOT YOU!!!!.....either a played pattern or figure and/or eye contact he will hand control back to you.....there there, its ok, stop blubbing, its your band again, all yours my little tinpot tyrant! I am available for lectures and after dinner speaking on a variety of Brass Band conductor related topics. I have a book out for Xmas called "He couldn't conduct lightening" (Harper Collins).