Banding Veterans.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by marksmith, May 1, 2013.

  1. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I applaud the brilliant opportunities being offered to our younger, aspiring players (a real credit to the bands concerned).
    My question is: Is there a place for players of a certain age/ experience, beyond being relegated down the ranks?
    Would an organisation such as the National Lottery, consider funding a band of Veterans, who could then support the development of younger players?
    I am approaching 56 years of age, still capable, but frustrated that more and more bands see me as an assistant euph, or second bari, rather than the Principal player I have always been.
    Obviously, as an ex-school teacher, I strongly support the development of the younger generation, but I am increasingly frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to a person of my age, in banding, without the threat of losing status.
    I have always depended on bands supplying instruments to use, thus have never had one of my own. This now leaves me in a situation where it is difficult to find a suitable position, but am unable to keep my lip in, due to lack of instrument (and instrument costs exploding beyond my financial means).
    There must be many in my situation, I am sure that given the opportunity to create a band and compete, we could work our way through the sections and support the banding community at the same time, with work-shops and learning opportunities for the younger groups that we could visit and perform for.
    We do live in a young persons' world, I have no qualms about that, I would just like to see the older generation valued and our experience appreciated more.
  2. Backrowdiva

    Backrowdiva Member

    Euphful, a Veteran at 56! Although my band is non contesting through the choice of the members, our principle euphonium is in his 70's, 2nd euph is 82 and bumper up cornet 86! I'm sure lower section bands would welcome your experience and have a principle seat for you, especially if they have a junior/youth/beginners band.
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Are instruments really that expensive?

    I know this has been discussed on other threads, but what other hobby provides all the equipment for free?
  4. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Sounds like I would be a 'Junior' in your band, Diva!;)
  5. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I do agree with your sentiment, Steve, though I could not offer a complete answer.
    Even older, well-worn Euphoniums are in the two grand area.
    If I wanted a new one, we are talking 4, 5, even 6 grand for a decent manufacturer.
    I am not looking for an argument about the rights and wrongs of 'free' instruments.
    If I joined the Musicians union and charged their rates for concerts (or even for rehearsals in a lot of cases), I am sure that the band would soon find me too expensive to play for them. That makes the loan of an instrument and no charge for attendance, a bargain.
    Like in a lot of hobbies, there is a decent amount of travel involved and time sometimes required during working hours.
    Most bands charge 'subs' and other expenses can result at concerts/contests.
    Like most people in our hobby, I treat these things as par for the course.
    Free? I don't think so.
    Have a good day.
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Regarding instruments, something I've seen done to very good effect is to purchase a late Imperial euph and have a repairer put a Sovereign leadpipe on it. Total cost about £1k (if that), and the results, if done well, blow beautifully and without the Sovereign high register tuning problems.

    Maybe worth considering?

    Edit: Incidentally, our solo euph was playing before you were born!
  7. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Rather than set up an independent band, have you considered suggesting this to one of the bands in your area? From memory Whitworth in the NW have a "veterans" band, and anyone who's followed Norwegian bands recently will have seen the success of the Eikanger "veterans" band, Bjorsvik Brass. The advantage being that there's a library already there, there may well be spare instruments, there's a rehearsal room with stands, chairs, heating (if you're lucky) and a brew room (if you're really lucky). Wingates have recently set up a "Community Band" using spare instruments - aimed more at beginners but of any age. So it's certainly possible to slot something like this into the organisation of an existing band, and probably gives it more chance of survival.
  8. Fat_Bari

    Fat_Bari Member

    What brilliant idea, I'm getting a bit long in the tooth myself so could be looking a seat someday soon. Starting again in the forth section could also have the added benefit of allowing youngsters perhaps not ready for upper section contest an entry point into the origination involved.
  9. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Great idea, it seems the perfect solution. Thanks for the suggestion.
  10. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Now that is just showing off!:)

    An interesting idea, regarding the instrument, though it does seem a lot of bother to achieve that result.
    Trying to find a decent Imperial below a grand, is becoming increasingly difficult.
    Plenty of 'scrappers' appearing on sites like e-bay. A well looked after Besson, was over two grand before I lost interest in it recently.
    One or two imports have attracted my attention but they are either advertised with import provisos, or totally un-tried risks.
  11. Backrowdiva

    Backrowdiva Member

    I'm one of the younger members at 38! Although our conductor is only 20 to even up the balance a bit
  12. pedaller

    pedaller Member

    Darwen Brass can accommodate players of all ages in principal positions. Many of us are enjoying playing at a decent level without the pressure of Championship Section commitment we have been used to. See our vacancies under recruitment for contact details. Our oldest member was born before Methusela ! ( sorry Fred!)
  13. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Until recently I conducted Kumeu Brass here in NZ. When I took the band on in 2008 they had just started a veterans group made of a few older fellas in the main band who wanted to get an extra blow in the daytime. They ran it all themselves.

    Word got around and today they have 35 players (mostly oldies but a few Mums and others who can get out in the day) along with a decent conductor and good list of jobs.

    Players pay subs and use band instruments and facilities but otherwise run themselves. This band has also given the organisation access to some grants they couldn't get at before so everyone has won. It was nice to have such a big pool of players to call on when then senior band had gaps!

    I think a lot of bands will get on to this in years to come.
  14. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The average age of Cowes Concert Band has fallen in recent years to about 55 with the arrival of several people returning to playing in their 40s - in fact I believe we have only 2 or 3 players below 40.
    As for afforable instruments the Wessex Euph is excellent value, blows extremely well and is well worth considering. Better quality Chinese instruments are a real option these days.
  15. Euphanasia

    Euphanasia Member

    "more and more bands see me as an assistant euph"

    .....and if (like me) you find yourself the right band with a player sitting on your left who is happy to share out the work/decent solos, then the title matters little....In our gaff we work as a section, and I don't care if I'm called 2nd Euph, Assistant Euph, or (on a good day) Co-Principal......
    Surely the days of the 'end chair' should be coming to an end - How else do you keep ambitious 2nd players if they are forced to wait for the Principal to retire or expire......Work as a Section and everyone gets a look in!
    [I'll get me coat....]

  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Yes, it's not a bad model, and it's one that many front rows have used over the years - "This is a high lyrical solo, so that's mine, but this one involves technical gymnastics, so that's yours". Done right, it works out well for the good of the band.
  17. Chris Hicks

    Chris Hicks Member

    The Euph section at Flowers has a combined age that extends well beyond the century mark, i'm sure if you were good enough for a seat, a band wouldn't turn you down due to age?
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I feel a new competition coming on - oldest combined euph section out there:

    I'll start the ball rolling with Kidlington's: 120. The whole euph/bari line makes 226, as I recall (so if Mark joined, he'd be younger than the average! Although 2nd oldest overall on the row.). But I have a feeling the Flowers euph section might be pretty close to that, if not actually beat it?
  19. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I have always worked on that principle myself, with most people sitting next to me as my assistant.
    When I have sat in the 'assistant' seat myself, rarely have I been shown the same grace and recognition, thus, I don't sit there.
    The name on the chair does not matter, what does, is what fires you as an individual. I enjoy performing solos, I like the challenge of shaping a decent section together (including Baris!!) and I like to compete with the best out there, both for the band and individually.
    Often, this is seen as 'ego' by those players who are not so competitive. So be it, I just like to play well, contribute individually to a concert programme, and if competing, as good as any Principal euph player in the other bands.
    If I go to a solo contest, I go to get a prize, not to make the numbers up!
    M.Ds find players like myself a challenge, they want to use our drive but can also feel threatened by our desire to maintain/improve standards, and our need to be heard when making suggestions on how things might be 'teased'.
    So, I am being open and honest here; I can be seen by other players as assertive and demanding (sorry to those who have 'assisted me over the years!) but I see myself as an experienced player, who likes to contribute to the whole development of a band.
    I have had two outstanding 'bumpers' over my career, understanding my weaknesses and supporting me through them. But, I have also realised that most people who sit on the second seat, do so because they are happy to be there, play their parts within the group and go home. I sit on the end because that's what utilises my strengths. If they prove to be better players, I would happily stand down - but not to be their assistant! It's just nature.
  20. Chris Hicks

    Chris Hicks Member

    They're not far off it, the euph section is somewhere around the 112-115 mark, however our solo Baritone massively brings down the average, 2 Euphs and 1 Bari make up roughly 165, but only extends to 183 as a full section, so kidlington wins on that one!