Perhaps two threads currently running on tMP are connected: the angst over brass bands not making it on Classic FM, and Christmas activities (not mince pies). For many, the perception of brass bands is all too easily influenced by what may be heard on a street corner or a bandstand in the park. I don’t think Eric Ball originated the phrase but he used to call the brass band a peripatetic organ, and so it has been in the SA context. But musical quality has often been dubious and it’s an image that sticks. And summer bandstands might appear to be solely for the pleasure of an older generation. Just recently I was getting acquainted with the new music director at my church; he’s a fine organist and choral trainer and occasionally likes to add orchestral-type brass accompaniments. Someone told him I was involved with brass but when he enquired and I mentioned brass bands in particular, I sensed he lost interest. After all, what he knew of brass bands was what he’d heard on the streets in the USA (usually the SA around Christmas time), often comprised of inadequate players, poorly balanced, some strange-looking instruments, and limited repertoire. Oh, and he’d also seen the film “Brassed Off”. While SA bands performing out-door evangelism or most any band heading a parade used to be a fairly common, it may have been at the expense of being taken more seriously in the upper echelons of music-making. Hasn’t “Brassed Off” seen to it that the working-class tag, or stigma, remains firmly fixed in the UK? If, by analogy, the long-established institutions of musical learning and performance are the equivalent to horse racing (the sport of kings and queens), brass bands are right there racing whippets. The fact is, bands are made up of people from all walks of life (amateurs) and I wouldn’t like that to change. Unfortunately, many non-banders are oblivious to the remarkable skills on display in the best bands because they choose to be. The sophisticates don’t trust their ears if it doesn’t sound like orchestral brass. In lofty circles the pedigree of brass bands is still suspect and legitimacy is questionable. If only Bach, Beethoven and Brahms had written original works for bands, things would be so different. But how concerned are band folk really about being placed on the fringe of musical culture? Is banding merely sport (as in contesting), a chance to flex muscular technique (as emphasized by some test pieces), or is it something more artistically satisfying? How many players complain that audiences are small, while themselves failing to be good listeners of other bands? Let’s face it, brass bands and band music in general are destined to remain a niche market as.