Amateurism = 2nd rateness?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Euph thumbs up, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. Hello folks. I am new to the forum here so hello.
    I am doing research on Amateurism in brass bands. I am sure some of you will be familiar with Dr Childs motto, ''Amateur in status, Olympians in standard''.
    My main thread of the thesis is basically trying to say how banding IS a profession, only without the pay. Would you agree? I would be interested in your views on this matter.
    Have commissioned test pieces (paid or unpaid) helped to detract from the negative connotations 'Amateurism' would suggest?

    Many thanks.
  2. winterman

    winterman Member


    In some cases yes it can be a profession, but for most people it is a 'hobby' or in my case a 'way of life', it's not my career.

    I would see Brass Bands more in a sporting light, many competitors in the Olympics are amateurs in that they are not paid to do their sport, they (as an outfit or team) are sponsored. They also have day jobs too.
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    if your not paid, you're not a professional - that's the meaning of the word

    but if your band is paid to perform, it is a professional outfit and it (and it's members) should behave accordingly
  4. winterman

    winterman Member

    I would totally agree with that Steve.. :)
  5. KenIrvin

    KenIrvin Member

    I think this statement sums up all brass band players I know
  6. Thanks for this folks. Much appreciated.
    Has anyone had any encounters with people who basically think brass bands are second rate? If so, what was their point they were trying to put across?
  7. BoBo

    BoBo Member

    Personally I try and be as "professional" in attitude to banding as I am at work so for example behaviour, timeliness, reliability, dress, co-operation. Now that for some people means that they behave as badly at band as they do at work.

    The overwhelming majority of banders perform to the best of their abilities, are well behaved and co-operative, that is not the same thing as professionalism.
  8. Mattytheshark

    Mattytheshark Member

    There are many players in brass bands (of all standards) that are professional musicians but they don't get paid for banding itself. Music teacher etc are all pro musicians even if performing doesn't pay the bills.
  9. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Nail.... head!

    Amateur doesn't automatically mean 2nd rate any more than professional automatically means 1st rate. I've been lucky enough to know and play with some absolutely brilliant amateur musicians (mainly through banding), and I've also known more than a handful of surprisingly poor ones who manage to make a living out of it and get to call themselves professionals!

    In my experience the only people who've ever expressed opinions about bands being "2nd rate" have been orchestral snobs and/or people who'd never actually heard what a decent quality band could do.
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that there are basically two schools of people who think this. On the one hand, there are some who are distinctly inferior musicians (the stereotype would play an important part in a terrible amateur orchestra), but on the other hand, there are some who are extremely well-informed musicians who prize quality of musical writing above all else. There are those in between, but it seems to me that such people lie on a spectrum between these two end points.

    We should recognise that there are grounds on which we can legitimately appear thoroughly ridiculous; principally, our obsession with contesting over musical quality, and the often low standard of the music that we play. It is these grounds that can attract the scorn of such people - and I would not argue with anyone whose musical taste was offended by our diet of music-as-sport, arrangements of pop songs, and compositional attempts to pretend that the 20th century never happened - they have a valid point, and arguing taste is always futile.
  11. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I sometimes wonder why some people play in Brass Bands at all?
    I love our traditions and music and choose not to play in anything but Brass Bands.
    Playing in Orchestras and Wind Bands has been different - but neither compare to the Brass Band experience.
    Those people that do nothing but criticise our movement from within, need to question their motives for being a part of it at all.
    Evolving I agree with. Change for change's sake - usually lasts a short while and reverts to the original form.
    We are what we are. Put-up or shut-up!
  12. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    I don't think i would agree with this, there is a view that professionals do for money what amateurs do for free, but it is a cynical and simplistic view of things. There is an assumption that professional means better, but it is not always the case.
    Historically, of course the term amateur indicated someone who studied and pursued their interest in music (or whatever) to a level of excellence unhindered by the need or desire to make money from it, "stevetroms" comment reduces the activity of music making to a mere occupation rather than a profession, it may not matter how well you do it as long as you get paid for it.
    now, professional attitudes and behaviour are another matter, there are ethics involved in it and questions about the activity is pursued, and that would be an interesting discussion
  13. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Ah but in the case of most bands, the band itself gets a fee for a job (and the hirer therefore has some right to expect a "professional" standard of performance and/or presentation for their money) but the players themselves are generally amateurs playing for the love of it and do not get paid.

    That's the problem with trying to define brass bands as one or the other.

    Er, what? Who was "criticising our movement from within"?

    But while we're at it, to be a "movement", surely it has to "move" once in a while? :-?
  14. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I cannot see justification for the question. Just read some of the previous posts.
    As for the statement; Now I understand the definition of amateur.
  15. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Judging by the exodus from bands, I'd say they already have........
  16. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Believe it or not, I do occasionally read threads before I contribute to them. I know that's becoming more and more unusual these days, but some of us remain resolutely Old School.

    Nonetheless, I've had another look and still can't see any unjustified criticism. In fact the only critical comment I can see is Dave's:

    Which seems entirely reasonable to me. There are people who have little respect for brass bands because of the music we play. Bands like to ignore these people, but many people who hold this attitude are in positions of power in the BBC and the significant music festivals - meaning that bands are denied access to outlets for our music making that might otherwise be available. For instance, the Proms, or the Edinburgh Festival.

    There's no point in pretending that this attitude doesn't exist, or indeed that everything in the British Banding garden is rosy. The annual decline in the number of bands and players belies that. Criticism is a healthy thing, and if bands occasionally took some external criticism on board rather than circling the wagons every time an "outsider" says something negative, we'd be in a healthier position, in my view.

    It's an oft-misused word. The word is derived from the latin amo, "to love". See this article for an interesting take on the definition, especially the way it's changed through history. The pejorative meaning ("his performance was amateurish") is quite a recent development - historically it meant, literally, someone who undertakes something for the love of it, rather than as a job. Similar to the "Gentlemen vs. Players" view of amateur and professional sport in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
  17. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    here is a question for us

    I play for a band, i have a job and get paid for that

    A band asks me to play for a concert and offer (not always accepted) payment.

    Am i now a professional player? - or am i playing 'professionally'?
  18. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Your research skills are commendable. Bravo.:clap:
    My fear Andrew, is that it could now also be associated with cheap sniping at selected individuals, rather than topics.
    Or are you simply flirting with me?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  19. marc71178

    marc71178 Member

    To be fair isn't that what Steve is saying though?
  20. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    only if
    (1) you have access to some special knowledge that is not available to the rest of us
    (2) you have trained extensively
    (3) you have been rigorously assessed by your peers
    (4) you have a heartfelt obligation and the ability to share your knowledge with others
    5) you abide by a particular code of ethics about what you do

    then a person can start to think of themselves as "professional". accepting money makes one merely an occupational musician
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011