Brass banding: dwindling resources?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Looking at this months 4br editorial, they suggest that it's time to allow players to register with more than one band to enable bands to have enough players to enter contests.

    I spent many years playing and conducting in contests for SCABA where 'day transfers' are now the norm to enable more bands to support their contests, so it's not new to me.

    Nevertheless, whether you think 4br's suggestion is a good one (for the record, I do, but perhaps not have players registering for up to three different bands.... rehearsals could clash and said player/s main band conductor could well gripe about commitment to his or her 'home' band), the question that's on my lips reading that article is 'Why have we got to this situation where so many bands are short of players?'

    Yes, many of you will recall how I slagged off contesting on this forum (and 4br's 'contribution' to my moan) but I for one do not think that a dis-interest in contesting is the reason. That was simply a personal opinion based on my own experiences, nothing more. But why ARE bands struggling for numbers? (if, indeed, that is the case). Too many other social activities going on? Too many other musical activities going on? Too many video games machines available to play with and skip banding??? (I jest on that last suggestion ;))

    Just for once (!) I'm going to sit on the fence and get my posterior covered in creosote into the bargain. I'm simply curious to gauge opinions from those in regular contesting bands (of which I'm not) as to (a) whether 4br are right in their observations of dwindling band membership and (b) if they are, the reasons why.

    I look forward to the usual eloquent and erudite tMP feedback on this subject.

    Many thanks

    Last edited: Sep 2, 2005
  2. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    Just to add my two penneth to this one....
    Of the bands Ive been involved in that have had player problems the cause seems to be a lack of a youth band set up. There are no kids feeding into the band for when people leave for whatever reason.
    Also part of the problem with getting younger players to come along to bands in my area of scotland (Fife, Central) is that the Brass teachers in schools are orchestrally biased and dont want their pupils joining a Brass band. Sounds crazy but this is what I keep getting told at commitee meetings and by members of bands as to why no youngsters are coming along.
    I would just like to know why so many Brass teachers are against Brass Bands, especially when so many top notch orchestral players started in Brass Bands in the first place!!!!

    Anyone got an answer/comeback for this one or had a similar problem?
  3. persins

    persins Member

    I'm not sure that allowing multiple registrations should be allowed but see no reason why the rules can't be relaxed slightly with regards to guest players. I still think that you should not be able to borrow players from bands ranked higher but this would surely enable bands to enter into more contests without always having to ellicit transfers etc.

    The issue of why bands are dwindling is an issue that I will probably comment on in a bit but my brain really can't cope with articulating that at this moment in time! I feel that one requires a proper missive!!!
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I can sympathise with this, Sharpy. Although London's not a hotbed of brass banding in general, not long after I started learning trumpet (in 1974), I saw what I soon discovered to be a cornet in the music storage room at school. Not having played for very long, and not knowing the difference between either, I asked my music teacher (not my trumpet teacher) whther I could play that as it was smaller and seem lighter to carry around! (Oh, the innocence of youth!) I was told in no uncertain terms: 'No. You don't want to play a cornet, they're for brass bands and you don't want to get involved in them' (OK, that might not have been a verbatim quote, but the essence remains!)

    Didn't stop me, though... ;)
  5. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    I think thats not a bad idea, Fife is particularly bad, as Sharpy has mentioned. Dunfermline went to a contest with 5 cornet players in April, and collected a couple on the day of the contest to 'sit in.' This sort of situation is terrible for banding in general, and must be reversed in some way and soon to avoid irrepairable damage.

    On a better note, Edinburgh is a hotbed of players, there are so many students about who are not registered in bands, hence the formation of the Edinburgh University Brass Band, but many of them dont have the means to travel, so they dont bother, and there are more young faces disappearing from the banding scene.

    There must be a solution out there, one thats not too complex. :-?

    TIMBONE Active Member

  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Moreover, I doubt that many 'top-notch' orchestral French Horn players (at least in this day and age) started in Brass Bands anyway. Even if one is fortunate enough to live in an area where brass instruments are routinely taught in schools, the majority of visiting teachers are likely to be from a "classical" or orchestral background. Who is going to teach/encourage tenor horn or baritone players?
  8. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Sorry but I can't see how this is going to help the survival of the brass band movement at all. Ok.. a band with a few players short can make up their numbers with players who are allowed to have multiple registrations. But lets not kid ourselves, the multiple registered players will not be helping band X who are a couple of back row cornets missing, they will be sitting top chair at band Y who probably have a full compliment of players. i.e it will be all too simple to abuse the rule to field a strengthened team at contests. If thats not a recipe for getting regulars p1553d off and encouraging them to leave the movement then I don't know what is.
  9. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    If we refer to registrations / transfers then we seem to be talking about bands only in the context of contesting.

    My band attends 3 contests a year - compare that to the number of concerts we do.
    For concerts, we have access to our usual regular deps when we need them (and reciprocate with other bands too as I'm sure we all do.). And I don't have to register any of these people for a concert. So, the band flourishes away from the contest platform.

    You do not see the real band on a contest stage very often - the one that appears on the park bandstand often bears little resemblance to the contest band - so my question would be, which band are you talking about here? The one that does all the weekend gigs and turns out once or twice a week for rehearsals, all year round, or the contesting band?

    For my money, I would ditch the concept of registration! There's enough movement around just before each contest to show that's just a farce anyway! (Check out how many ads on this site specifically looking for players for a contest compared with those for a sunday afternoon fete!)

    Having said all that, there is a shortage of players generally - my own experience supports earlier comments - you have to get a flourishing youth band. The band I conduct has one and numbers are good - another band I play with doesn't and is close to folding.
    There's a lot more for kids to do these days which is a heck of a lot more exciting than playing in a brass band - we need to compete with that I'm afraid!
  10. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Instead of just looking at where the next set of brass band players are going to come from is it not about time we looked at where the old ones have gone? I have met litterally hundreds of people who used to play but gave up many / a few years ago. This isnt only a matter of why we cant attract new blood to the movement, its why cant we keep the people already involved happy?

    I dont see the need in registering for more than one band and think it will make a mockery of the entire contest scene. Why not form a 4th section band and register every single member of your 1st section band to it. Then just enter two sections at every contest you attend, take two sets of prize money and only one set of expenses. What a joke, if you cant complete your line up with the 4 guest players many contests allow then dont go, enjoy your concerts and take as much satisfaction as you can from them rather than contest success.
  11. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    And the number of changes in bands immediately before each regional contest isn't equally a mockery?

    Same again - if you can't compete without having to change players every single year, then there's also something not right!

    The idea that removing registrations will cause anarchy is always trotted out whenever the idea is floated that we could do without it. It's unproven I'm afraid!

    IMHO, the contesting element of banding has simply become too important - and that's what needs to change.