A warm welcome to Bedworth...........

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by fabled inferno, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. ....for all percussion players, as usual. I have just been handed this years "Fuhrer directive" regarding how the percussive untermensch will be dealt with at this years midlands regionals.

    The stage layout diagram includes a sticker, with the following hysterical message in red underlined lettering.

    "Following advice from professional percussionists, for this years series of contests the timpani will not be moved this position. We are notifying you early for rehearsal purposes."

    Well, I have some stunning news for the Midlands Gestapo, guess what? the vast majority of us taking part at the Midlands regional are NOT "professional", so what's the point your trying to make?

    A second piece of paper handed to me, along with the above tablet of stone, gives details of what equipment is provided for each section, and includes further orders which must be obeyed ....."The following equipment is provided and must be used"

    Why is this sort of disrespectful attitude being displayed by contest organisers towards percussion players? and if the organisers are genuinely paying us the compliment of comparing us to professional players,dont they think they should be a little more respectful?

    I know a number of professional players,and its not difficult to imagine what they might have to say to such a "jobsworth" organiser who tried to order them about to such an extent.

    I must say I am fascinated to know who this cabal of shaymen professionals are, and I am very interested to know how they decided the Timpani must be stage left. Presumably this is the result of many hours of contemplative meditation, aromatherapy and Dolphin mating call CD's.

    We are all taking part in this contest to make music and have an enjoyable weekend. We have all been working hard to produce a creditable performance, and this of course includes percussion players. It hard enough as it is, having to play unfamiliar (and often defective) equipment, which you are not allowed to play untill you go on stage whithout this kind of unhelpfull and rather insulting attitude from contest organisers.

    Contest organisers should be there to help, not to make sure they themselves have an easy life.
  2. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    This post is too good for this forum. Send it to 4BarsRest! (although shamen is spelt, er, shamen).
  3. Kofi

    Kofi Member

    Good point, entertainingly made! Percussionists in general have a thankless task at contests. I always say they are a bit like the goalies of the band, they tend to get noticed only when they make a major error.
  4. Pav

    Pav Member

    Unless the professionals were Halifax Town supporters.

    Seems a funny time to lay down the law. Almost nothing in the way of big perc (2 timps and a bass drum), a short test piece and as far as I know just that section on in the Civic Hall on the Saturday.

    It's nice they've spoken to a pro percussionist but that shows a woeful ignorance of how lower section percussion actually works. The percussion needs to go where the players need it to be.
  5. tkhbss

    tkhbss Member

    Absolutely, or this would be the tail wagging the dog. Might just check when your secretary received the demands though, as they are usually sent out with instructions weeks beforehand.

    Contest organisers should be more accommodating of percussionists - especially when the contest is in demise in any case. Let the percussionist place their equipment where it needs to be - where they have rehearsed the piece - and if it takes five minutes more, who cares? Worth it to keep the percussionists interested in brass bands!
  6. davethehorny

    davethehorny Member

    Same instruction applies to the location of timpani at the West of England.

    I have raised this point with the regional council who tell me the decision has been made after talking to the suppliers of the percussion equipment.

    The main reason given is that the timpani tuning can be altered by continually moving them from one side of the stage to the other. Professionals tell me that the timpani should be behind the Eb Basses due to the range they play in and the parts are often similar.

    The West of England Council sent the directive out with the entry form so we have known where the timpani were going to be before we entered.

    As long as bands know in plenty of time, I don't see the problem. Often the band's Contest Secretary has the information but doesn't tell the band's MD until just before the contest. Hence causing a problem.

    I am also told that this sort of directive is common in contests involving championship section contests but being 4th section we wouldn't have known that.
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    As Dave says, I don't see the problem as long as the competing bands are told well in advance. Let's face it, it's far easier for the band to reorganise their perc layout in the bandroom once, than for the organisers/bands to be moving things around all over the shop on the day - particualrly at contests where there's not much room onstage (though I can't comment on this specific example.)

    As for the paragraph about "these are provided and must be used" isn't that just in there to prevent a band strolling on with all their own kit and moving half the provided stuff out of the way - further delaying the contest? ie: if a concert bass drum is provided, you don't bring your own and expect to use it in stead.

    There are enough barriers to contests running to time anyway, so the attempt to remove one should be applauded - so long as plenty of notice is given and everyone knows the deal well in advance of the contest.
  8. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I personally cannot see the problem.
    I am nothing to do with the Area Committee but they must tire of questions regarding the supply of percussion and logistical queries, at this point of the year.
    Why not inform ALL bands at the same time? Surely it is good communication?
    I feel that the original post is over-reactive and totally misunderstanding of the reasoning for the committee's 'directive'.
    Knowing most of the indiviuals that make up this particular organising body, I know them to have the good of all Midlands bands - and their members, at the core of any organisational decision.
    If no guidelines had been issued, then this thread would most probably be criticising that!
    No wonder so few people want to volunteer their time to organising bodies these days!
  9. Pav

    Pav Member

    Why not have a directive stating all bands must play in the same formation then? Euph opposite the principal cornet, flugel at the bottom of the front row.

    As long as you give bands notice and they can rehearse that way they should be fine.
  10. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    A joy to read ~ so well written !!

    - Mr Wilx
  11. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member


    I'm always surprised with the attitude towards percussion players in bands, invariably in lower sections percussion isn't actually their first instrument yet to me they have the hardest job of all. Following on from the above post, I wonder how bandsmen would feel if you practised for months then turned up to the contest to play on (for example) I different model and brand of euph, with a different mouthpiece and told you can't mess with the tuning slides etc....its exactly the same scenario percussion players have to put up with.
  12. fartycat

    fartycat Member

    The WoE council are right that moving the timps can put them out of tune and personally, I always play in the gap between Eb bass and bass trom. BUT, I'd bet a considerable sum that they have put this ruling out to save time and nothing else. It will cause problems though as a lot of bandrooms don't have enough room to accomodate the timps and percussion at the back of the band and often they are positioned to one side or the other.

    The ruling that really grates for me is the refusal to allow extra gear on stage. A few years back a testpiece (can't remember which) had a section that required the timpanist to also double on bass drum in a marching style. However what they provided on stage was a huge concert drum that was unsuitable. But was I allowed to bring on my small drum? Was I heck.

    And you can ask as many pro percussionists you like about the requirements of each piece. But if those pro players don't know the repertoire, then they will make mistakes. For example, how many areas provided a large tubular bell last year for English Heritage when what should have been used was a large ships bell?
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

  14. Kofi

    Kofi Member

    We are lucky to have a great association in Scotland. They've asked for a percussion plan and have a team of percussion specialists who help every band set up as they wish, quickly and with no fuss. This weekend will be as smooth and relaxed as always :) Hope you all have a good day in Perth!
  15. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Yikes - I believe you're right. And me being a Chief Superintendent in the Grammar Police too. I think I'll start a rumour that shamen is the plural of shaman to cover my embarrassment (2 r's, 2 s's).
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Happy memories of student days watching Richard Whiteley looking confused at the news from Susie Dent in dictionary corner that the plural of 'dragoman' is 'dragomans'...
  17. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Does this mean you refer to two or more German people as Germen (or Gerladies) :-?

    If their names were Wilhelm you could refer to them as Gerbills.
  18. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Hang on, hang on - You should try pitching in tune and try playing in sympathy with the rest of the band when the air around you is shimmering with the timp reverberations emanating from 2 inches behind your lugs - not on - no way.
    My old Bass Mate Steve Butler refused to have the timps anywhere near his Solo EEb seat.
    Locate them well back between the BBs and 3rd Cornets I say.

    Now I don't want an avalanche of logistical nit picking from you perc purists ~ I just used to find it very difficult playing when something registering 6.5 on the Richter Scale was rumbling behind me !
    ( I say this with no disrespect to those poor souls in NZ for whom I have the greatest sympathy.)

    - Mr Wilx
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    So why do you think BBs have it any easier, Wilky?

    In my experience, it's musically unsympathetic or excessively enthusiastic Timpanists that cause that problem. And if you've got someone with lead sticks braying the bejesus out of them, they'll annhilate the balance of the band wherever they are.

    If played well, percussion can add immeasurably to a performance. However it is sometimes difficult to remind our bretheren of the carpentry section, that it is a brass band with percussion. Not a brass and percussion band and that for large amounts of time, they are not the main musical event.

    Mind you, It's often difficult to remind soprano players of almost the same thing....
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  20. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    Ouch thats a bit strong!! I thought this idea was left in 70's...the majority of music is brass and percussion, if you think they play second fiddle have a listen to Little Light Music at the area!!

Share This Page