band engagements

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by fatstickmanslim, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. when should a band take or not take an engagement , seeing how many players are wanted to fill positions for Durham miners, we were offered it but felt too many players missing.Do the public know what a full band is? Should we turn under strength bands? comments please!!!!!!!!!
  2. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    At Killamarsh we usually turn-up with a full compliment of players - about 30. We also have five players who also play at Dronfield Band and occasionally we have engagements that clash. This weekend we had two jobs one of which clashed with them, as well as a number of players that had "prior" committments on the day.

    In the end we turned out a band of 20 (including 3 deps) and had to play without a conductor (he sat front row because we were short of cornets) - the performance could clearly have been better with all the seats filled but "the show must go on" and we did our best - surprisingly the organisers didn't particularly notice that we were down on numbers and happily paid over our fee and will book us for next year.

    This time of year I'm sure bands are turning out for fetes and galas with less numbers than you would want but if you choose the right programme and give the customers a performance they'll not really notice you're short. Although we've got a couple of jobs coming up were it is a requirement of the contract that you have at least 24 players on the stand (think we'll be co-opting a few of our training band players in for those jobs then)
  3. We played in a fete thing on saturday, with all but one of the back row missing. Me and another front row player played rep; and another front row cornet played 3rd. The main disadvantage for me was suddenly finding out, a few dozen bars into Amazing Grace, that I was sight-reading a solo (which the normal rep player has never played). The rest of the band looked at me strangely, but I played on. That was very nerve-wracking! My hands shook, but I made it to the end sounding passably ok.

    But the people out on the lawn didn't notice the missing parts, or the nerves, or the duff notes. The organisers were overjoyed and said it sounded great. So I suppose it depends on your audience.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2006
  4. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    I think it is good practice to check with the 'band' first on booking engagements. You are always going to have the odd person that can't make it but if half the band are definately away then I think it is poor management to book a paid gig. The other issue is that whenever your band is out playing, be it a contest right down to some little park job, you are representing the band. You do not know who is listening! To have a high number of deps normally a bad thing for any performance (no matter how good the players area) and the 2nd issue is cost. If you are paying deps (even if only a small amount of petrol money say) it does eat into your profits for the engagement. The problem with bands is normally that their players do not notify the band organiser when they are away until very short notice. This is something that really annoys me - there is no reason for it and it just shows a lack of respect for the band. I have been involved with getting deps in with various bands and it isn't an easy job. I think this is the issue with many bands rather than the fact the management have directly booked an engagement knowing half the band can't make it.
  5. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    I find it really helps if you ask your band members to fill out 'holiday forms'. :biggrin: They may not like it, however, I now have a calender with all the absentees on, so when approached about engagements, I know immediately whether it's a viable option. Yes, you may be able to 'manage' but as Rachel says, it's the band's name that is out there and unless you get top quality deps who are excellent sight readers, having to fill vacant seats, especially through the summer months, is not easy. It does, however, depend on what the fee is and how much the band needs the money from these engagements where players are missing. All in all, you have to weigh up the options.
  6. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think that referring every potential booking back to the band is a particularly healthy thing to do. If the job is booked then it should be up to the players to do their best to be there. In my experiance if you keep referring back you get lots of typically wishy-washy "well I might not be able to make it" type replies and nothing gets booked. Obviously there are exceptions - holiday periods, bank holiday weekends, Christmas, but generally the secretary should be left to do the job of getting the bookings.

    As for fielding an under-strength band, I think for a garden fete type job you could probably get away with being a few chairs light, but for a formal concert you really should be turning out as near to a full compliment as you can possibly muster.
  7. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    All the bands I'm playing for at the moment tend to put engagements to the band before booking an engagement.

    At St Agnes we're always struggling for players, but most of the things we do are local, and the public support us, just as we support them. We don't charge sky high prices, and everyone seems to be happy with what we turn up with.

    Lympstone generally have a good turnout, although I went back up for a concert on Friday (I'm only a part time member now I'm back in Cornwall!), and there were a few players missing, but all parts were covered.

    St Stythians do concerts in Falmouth every Sunday evening, and the turnout is almost 100% every week! They change the programme weekly, and I've been very impressed by the commitment of the band so far! Unfortunately I'm needed at work a lot of Sunday evenings, but am there when I can be!

    As Ian said, I think you can afford to miss a few players for garden fetes, but formal concerts need fuller bands.

  8. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whether or not a band is consulted about engagements, it is vital that players are given details as soon as possible. I'm sure there are many with various commitments, and there is nothing worse than to suddenly find out that you are expected to be out with the band when you've had something else in the diary for some time.

    As to whether engagements should be accepted, I think it depends on whether the band can produce an adequate showing on the day: turning up and producing a sub-standard performance does nothing for the players or the prospect of the band securing future bookings. Equally, especially with a marching job, it can be extremely tiring to have to play if the band is considerably under strength, especially for the top end of the band.

    We were out at Maldon on Sunday, with a march to the quay-side and back with an open air in between, followed by an indoor meeting. Although we only had two basses - one of whom has just switched instruments and had problems with his strap - it was the cornets who had to work hard, with only two solos & sop due to work commitments.
  9. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Considering that lots of band jobs are booked by the organisers many months in advance it would be difficult to get an answer from the band members as to whether you can do a job or not. Sure if you get a last minute request then of course you'd check with the band - at Killamarsh we took on a job with less than a weeks notice and I contacted most of the band in two days via email, text etc to see who was available etc.

    I think you just have to accept that there will always be difficulties in the summer months. We used to avoid any bookings in August - as many other bands do - we don't have a lot of youngsters in our band or teachers so June, July or August it's all the same to us - so we now do jobs in August. Because other bands don't do August bookings there are less clashes and you can usually find plenty of deps.
  10. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    Even with the best will in the world and committed players you're always going to have times when people are missing, people's work in particular has to come first before band, and these days a lot of people work weekends. Also remember that band is only a hobby, BUT a hobby that requires a large commitment to make it worthwhile. It's up to whoever runs the band to make sure that the band can fulfil its' commitments, and not take on what they can't fulfil, but also up to the individual players to let whoever is responsible know if they can't make it, and in good time. Anyone can have a last-minute emergency or illness and it's just one of those things you have to cover for if you can, but people who turn round a week or less before a job and say they can't do it, having known about it for ages, for a reason they've also known about for ages, do the band no favours at all. Thankfully not something I've had to deal with, but I know from speaking to friends in other bands that it does go on.
    Funny how this has come up, we did a march followed by concert job last weekend, which had two bands in it, both doing the march then consecutive concerts. The other band cancelled their concert on the morning of the job (but did the march, with 20-odd players). Well out of order, I thought, at least if they'd given some notice some other arrangement could have been made!
  11. Di

    Di Active Member

    We have many engagements, as I would imagine most bands do, that are annual events, and put straight into the engagement diary. However, if someone tries to book the band for something new and at fairly short notice, the band are consulted to see what kind of turn out can be expected.
  12. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    I agree with you on this Rachel to:clap:
  13. michellegarbutt

    michellegarbutt Supporting Member

    Bear in mind for some things like Durham gala and Armistice Day for our band its an ongoing commitment that we will do this every year. No one officially books us. It is takn for granted that we will play. Someone from the lodge turns up the week before just to let us know buses are booked etc. This is our 'commitment' to the village in exchange for our free practice room and support from the village. It's just unfortunate these are the 2 jobs when we can be almost certain every other band in the area will be out as well. The village are very proud of their band and would give us just the same reception if we turned up with 6 players but obviously because we don't know just who will be watching and for our own pride and comfort we do try to turn a full band out even though it involves going outside the area for deps. Durham is the one job where even though the band does get paid we know we will make a loss once we have paid our expenses etc. but we do it as its part of our heritage and as we have already said it's our commitment to the village

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