brass band is for life, not just for christmas...?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by horn__blower, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. horn__blower

    horn__blower Member

    Just something ive been thinkin about last couple of days. bands always get a lot more busy round christmas, and people (seem to) like having them around playing caroles and stuff. but where are they when we're playing to half empty concert venues the rest of the year?
  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    i see where youre coming from

    it does seem that this is the case...

    however it doesnt make much sense, after all christmas music is RUBBISH - why do we have to play this stuff more than the better concert music the rest of the year round.
    More disturbing is that the public listens more to this.... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
  3. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Thats a belting question mate, and one which is very hard to answer, clearly. I do think that we don't do ourselves a lot of favours as a movement either sometimes. It's sad but (at the moment at least) the greater publics perception of brass bands music is hymns, "light" concerts in the parks and Christmas carols.
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I have to agree that bands generally re-inforce the stereotype of gala day, carolling & bandstand music-making by doing these jobs whenever offered and when the money's there! It's a romantic, traditional image that's been taken for granted by the public and we don't do much as a movement to break the mould! It wasn't that many years ago that the public would stop and listen to bands in the open air but that now seems to be reduced to fleeting glances on their way to the next shop!
  5. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Brighouse, Yorkshire
    Unfortunately it's difficult to change that perception when there's almost no media coverage of bands in general. When YBS won a fifth european championship in a row, they got a quarter page b+w photo buried in the finance (!!????) section, and about four column inches. David Beckham's haircut got the whole back page!

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Musical taste is a much wider issue, and not just confined to brass bands. In some ways, the brass band is fortunate, in that they play music covering a whole spectrum of styles. A far as the empty seats in a concert is concerned, this is not just the ignorance of the general public concerning brass bands, it is also the prejudice of the musical establishment. Tom, Christmas music isn't rubbish, it is Christmas music, although I have to agree that some of the brass band versions are a little suspect :biggrin: (I hope this does not include my own). Also, we provide seasonal music for 'joe public' - I am not particularly keen on some of the 'Christmas No. 1's', but they earn much needed money for the band funds.

    A final comment concerning what some of the public know about brass bands. Julie and I were on our way to a band engagement, in walking out dress carrying instruments, a neigbour saw us and said , "On your way to Church"? :biggrin: I was also on a bandstand once, and a group of people walked past pretending to bang tambourines shouting Hallelujah!
  7. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    The last thing we should be doing is complaining about our acceptence at Christmas. If we want to promote ourselves as something worth listening to then it is exactly at such times that we need to be out there and capitalise on it.

    At Carlton Brass we have had some brilliant jobs this year. The 60 years VE celebrations, Trafalgar day, and Rememberance jobs were all based around traditional stuff. We played last night of the proms stuff, Jerusalem, I vow to thee my country, Grandfathers Clock, 633 squadron etc. Then all the old wartime sing-along stuff. The audience absolutely loved it and were standing on their chairs waving union jacks etc. and screaming for more.
    The point is though that half the program was non traditional stuff such as Batman the Movie and Hungarian Rapsody ( currently the tune off the lager advert with the skating priests). The audience were really up for it due to their Nationalist frenzy and cheered almost as loud for all the in-fillers.

    Our Christmas programs are just the same - Give 'em what they think they came for then hit them with some contemporary exciting stuff.
    I suspect that lots of people, who had the sterotypical view that brass bands just play hymns, carols, marches and the Floral Dance, went away from our concerts with the idea that Brass bands could offer a whole lot more. Of course we won't convert all the audience but even if only one or two see an advert for our band and think 'Hey that was the band at that brilliant do a couple of month's ago - I think i'll go and see them again', then it was a job well done.

    So don't decry Christmas and traditional events, see them as an opportunity to advertise the movement. Mix some exiting stuff in there that make people sit up and say 'Wow - I didn't know they did stuff like that'.
  8. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Ok Tim - ill take that back (well, partly :p) a lot of our christmas music is rubbish (when compared to what we play the rest of the year round).

    As has already been said - the publics interest in brass bands seems to rise at christmas (as this is what we are stereotyped for - playing hymns and carols at christmastime).To speak for myself, playing in concerts where you play only christmas music can be very very boring - but, its christmas, we cant forget that and not play any of it (mores the pity :p), but if we only play the christmas music it gets boring for us and it can only add to opinions that we only come out at christmas (may seem a silly opinion - but when we are seen more at christmas than any other time it could happen)

    Surely the only way to get the publics interest all year round is to show them what we can do at the time when we DO have their attention - Christmas.
    If we can entertain them with music other than christmas music then maybe they would show more interest in us for the rest of the year...
  9. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    maybe its not joe publics problem, maybe brass bands are just getting above their station in thinking we are worth more than hymns, marches and christmas music!!

    We complain about dwindling audiences, then complain about the music the audiences like to hear. We complain about the lack of younger players joining the movement then complain about the new composers / music being introduced as its too different.

    Why worry about the audiences being better at christmas when we should be thinking about ways to grab their attention at this time.

    Incidentally, I did a band concert with a school choir last night and the audience (obviously mostly parents) gave the band as big a cheer as they did their little darlings. Why? because we integrated them into the show and if one of those parents tells a freind what a 'nice' night it was im sure a new audience member or two will be added to the next list of ticket sales.
  10. fulcherc

    fulcherc Member

    This is what Christmas is all about - we also played at a local school on Friday evening, this time, a school's Christmas Fete - and as a result, we had three potential new players wanting to join us.

    Christmas playing helps bands as well as giving a little joy to Joe Public. For me, although by Christmas I am sick to the back teeth of playing carols, it one of the most rewarding times of the year.

    As a band, Saltash Town Band goes out to various supermarkets throughout the year and puts on 'free' outdoor concerts, again demonstrating some of our latest music but also attracting potential new players.

    In Devon & Cornwall, people do stop and listen to their local bands playing in the park, or wherever.

    There are more ways to skin a cat, and indoor, formal concerts, are not necessarily the answer.

    Just enjoy the music.
  11. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    West Midlands
    I dont know if our band are lucky or what but since December 2002 we have played to almost a full concert venue each time our audiences have gone up by 100% and our secretary as to reserve at at least 100 tickets to our regular members of our audience each year for our chrismas concert the hall only holds 170 but its Packed each year.

    Our concerts throughout the year are always well attened we do something different each time and get the audience involved at some stage of the concerts we do thats down to our conductor who says"They have come to be entertained not just sit on a seat and listen"
    May be some bands just play and thats it??????
    I dont know what other bands do but what we are doing works evrytime htere is always something different and unexpected happens .
    Ask your conductor to have a think for different ideas to entertain the audience or get the band to put ideas forward have a chat about them, but its down to you to do it.
    Dont just keep ploding on doing the same old stuff use a bit of imagination and create something different.:clap: :tup
  12. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    near Dublin
    We have our big christmas concert tonight. Every year it is a packed house. So what we are doing this year a little different is the entire first half is non Christmas music. We are premiering a new piece and ending with Peter Graham's the Last Amen. Then the second half is the fluff. I think part of the goal is to get people to realise (after the first half) that we can play other music and its worth coming out to see us at other times.

    With such success, has your band thought about performing the same show two nights in a row. It sounds like you'd be guarenteed at least half a house each night and it would grow into having two packed houses?
  13. Ruthless

    Ruthless Member

    In a world of my own
    At Cottingham Bands Christmas concerts we always had other music than Christmas stuff, eg film music, also RG took time to find more interesting original Christmas music rather than the usual stuff every band has played for the last 200 years. The result was we had two sell out concerts each year for many years and they still do. Yes we were lucky we had a good following in the village but we worked at it. We had over 100 Patrons and had 3 other sell out concerts in our village every year. We then rewarded our patrons with a free concert to thank them for supporting us, they also get a newsletter so they can’t forget when the next concert is!!

    In essence we gave them what they wanted whilst making it interesting for the players. Yes we played music they wanted to hear which may not always be what we wanted to play but as they say "the customer is always right". We then used the pieces in between to educate our audience in new brass band music. A couple of times we even tried out our testpiece in the run up to a contest. At the Patrons concert the second half of the concert was made up of requests, yes you often get the "cheesy" music but we also got requests for some of the newer pieces we played and enjoyed. We also had the pleasure of doing a recital for the local music society which gave us the opportunity to do a more in depth piece for an appreciative audience.

    We had the philosophy that contests helped us improve our playing but our concerts were really what made us what we were a very good village band (They were very proud when we got to the Championship section and managed to stay there). Many of the patrons became our friends or knew us well enough to talk to. I could not go shopping in the village without someone asking how I was (usually someone I did not recognise) and when the band was playing next. I also made an effort after each concert to talk to many of the audience members. Patrons felt that they were able to feedback what they did and didn’t like.

    I guess what I am really saying is that there is a place for all music and all ways of thinking within the brass band movement we just need to tailor what we play to the relevant audience so that everyone enjoys it. Yes it takes a little time and effort but as many people have already said we need to provide enjoyment to our audience and educate them at the same time. Let us use the concerts they are prepared to come to, to make them want to come again and again all year round.
  14. postie

    postie Member

    Very interesting thread I would agree the public's interest in brass bands does grow at Christmas. But as alluded to before this is no bad thing. We have got jobs at Bestwood this Christmas that puts us right in the public eye i.e. jobs at the two main shopping centres in Nottingham.

    Also on Christmas Eve the band is doing there annual club run in Hucknall People love seeing the band doing that. I always think people love hear a band playing, and the more you can get people listening the better.
  15. Crazysop

    Crazysop Member

    I have been out carrolling with my band today, on a train of all places, Went down a storm. As the cheif spokes person "Merry Christmas" shouter and general loudhailer person at the front i asked our captive audience if they had any requests. Amongst the carol requests was Floral dance (several times) Oh how the general public love cheese. Band's christmas repertoire = cheesey carol arrangements therefore the general public like brass bands at Christmas. Simple.

    Now, if they let brass bands on the x factor, then brass bands would be so much more fashionable. Definite increase in concert attendance there. And..... loads more children would want to start playing too! Bring on televised contests!
  16. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Very much agree with the "lets grab them at Christmas and get them back in the New Year" sentiment. We have a 50/50 mix of Christmas and other music for December concerts and after the first two concerts last week we have two new bookings later in the year (not Christmas).

    Every event should be considered an opportunity to promote the band - you never know who's in the audience and what it might lead to.

    Slightly off topic but related to one of our bookings last week - due to late arrangements and other committments one of the concerts had a poorly attended audience - no bother for the band financially as we had agreed a fee for attending. Whilst accepting that it can be a bit soul destroying playing to less people than in the band why do some players then assume that "it doesn't matter" what or how we perform "because there's no one there" -:mad: oh that makes me so angry.
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