Are brass bands in danger?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by AdamW, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. AdamW

    AdamW New Member


    If this has been discussed before, I'd be really grateful if someone could point me to the thread. But as a young euphonium player, I see that relatively few children take up brass instruments. In our school music groups there are always loads of woodwind players but brass players are rare. Even our local brass bands always seem to be advertising for people to join their junior, sorry - training - bands. And as a youngster myself, perhaps I should know the answer. But I so love brass instruments that perhaps I am blind to the reasons for brass banding being a diminishing pastime!
    I know that many of my school pals regard rock bands etc as more cool and I suppose we can never convert them. But what puts people off learning brass instruments and joining a band?
    And what needs to be done to change this? I'd love to read any ideas.
    Thanks for reading this :)
  2. Kofi

    Kofi Member

    Hi Adam,

    Nice post! There are loads of discussions about not only how we get young players interested, but actually keep them interested into and beyond their late teens. Very briefly, we have been relatively successful in building our youth band by concentrating squarely on making sure that everyone enjoys every rehearsal and performance. We operate the band very democratically so that every player feels ownership for everything from programme choice to concert and contest destinations. We tour quite a lot too, and travelling together cements friendships which makes people more inclined to do their best for their band. The philosophy is that we don't play for the band, we are the band.

    Good luck, hope you keep enjoying your banding!
  3. AdamW

    AdamW New Member

    Thank for your reply George. Sorry to be late acknowledging you but I had a problem getting back onto the site - the 'unsafe site' warnings blocked my access. Glad to see all is OK now!
    I was interested to read about how you keep everyone involved and I think you have really hit on a good idea. It's really hard to keep enthusiastic if you don't like the music, so to get everyone joining in on the choice is great.
    But it still worries me that a lot of bands can't get people to join in the first place, even though they often offer free tuition, free loan instruments and very low subs - my Dad joined one and he pays 50p per week!!
    I wonder what other bands do to get people to join? I just love playing, so I'm always happy to take any opportunity that comes my way!
  4. annerly

    annerly New Member

    Totally agree with what you say.
    Mixing both senior and training bands and sharing events helps young players feel part of something bigger and makes the transition from training to senior band easier too.
    With, it seems, so many bands struggling at the moment, it's just as important to work hard at involving everyone and at the social side in the senior band as well... for exactly the same reasons as you have stated, 'A team that plays together, stays together'. It's up to us to keep our bands strong, no one else will do it for us - not always easy with busy lives and committments, but you just have to try that bit harder.
  5. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    Hi Adam

    It is inspiring to hear from younger generations on this forum. Im currently 23 but joined my first brass band aged 11. In my area (west of Scotland) it was the done thing to pick up brass cause it was one of the easier groups of instruments to learn. But by 16/17, many players stopped due to uni and street cred etc. Thankfully the Scottish Brass Band Association have caught onto this and pumped a crazy amount of money into the youth regeneration programmes across scotland. this has boosted young players and has been recognised as far as the scottish government and the initiative is growing at a speedy rate. Hopefully before long there will be new initiatives built right across britain.

    It is only right that banding is protected as a heritage and because it is widely associated with Britain.

  6. A question to keep any band chairman awake at night. We here at Torbay Brass Band have just restarted our training band after a number of years without one and recognising we needed t have one to keep going. At present we have a mixture of ages who all get on well and are working very hard. Most of the youngsters are new to brass bands and that is encouraging. In Torbay and I suppose like a lot of ther regions across the UK it seems the emphasis is on youngsters learning to play brass instruments that fit in with orchestras, wind bands, jazz bands. Most of those on percussion just want to play in groups and do not want to learn to read the dots. Added to the fact most of the young people learning trombone are taught in the bass clef which is another problem for brass bands.
    In an age of 'touch of a button' and things happen, learning a brass instrument or any other musical instrument is too time consuming and hard work. Also the young people really do need to have their parents support and encouragement. Its not just about paying for the instrument and the lessons, it is about being supportive - especially in the early days - ear plugs work!!! In our group of youngsters two boys have joined the group within the last six weeks (along with dad), they have passed all the others already in working and being able to play what is in the training book. That is all down to their dad encouraging them to practice hard every day and supporting them. It breaks my heart with so many bands looking for players we have so many talented youngsters who have given up playing because they cannot get into the appropriate group or due to lack of support.
    One answer is I believe to get good links between education authoirites/schools and the respective regions. Push our brass workshops, get small brass groups into schools.......the list is endless. Best of all we ourselves sell our product to all we meet!
  7. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    mm tricky one, we are fortunate enough to have a training band of about 50, and a novice group of 18 and a senior band of 30. I conduct both bands and my son and neice take the novices. We constantly advertise, we dont charge subs and we try and do at least 2 joint concerts a year with the senior band and I encourage the better players of the training band to come and sit in with the main band. Its working for us at the moment
    Good luck