"Cheating" at contests

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by euphsrock, Mar 14, 2010.

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  1. euphsrock

    euphsrock Member

    Dusters over bells to make them sound quieter, re-arranging the parts, using mutes where not in the score, having two sop players to share the load, moving any exposed back row 'solo'/exposed bits onto a front row player, one person playing the whole thing where it should be dovetailed, pointing bells at the back of the stage...... the list goes on.

    Does anyone else feel like me?:confused:

    In my opinion all these things are really just ways of cheating at a contest. The adjudicators can't see what's going on (although with some of the obvious tricks they are good at hearing them) so any little tricks the band can do to make it easier for them get used.
    Surely a test piece is designed to test the band, not see who can be most creative and inventive at making it "easier" and bending the rules.

    This comes after the regionals this weekend down in Torquay, the band I played with played everything to the book, (score). We were pleased with our performance, and despite a disappointing result, everyone agreed it was the best we had done. It is not a bitter rant or moan because we didn't do very well, but it got me wondering if I am the only one who feels this.

    All the above 'tricks' were used at some point in our section by various un-named different bands and I personally think that bands who have to do these sorts of things are not showing who they really are. For example, one back row cornet seemed to play virtually nothing because all his/her exposed parts had been given to a solo player, surely those parts were put in to test the back row, etc.

    Anyway, what are peoples opinions, (if it is just me then I will just have to shut up and get on with it!)
  2. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    I can see nothing wrong with any band doing whatever they feel improves the performance.

    It's all about making the best music.
  4. brassintheed

    brassintheed Member

    Well as I personally believe that we should be judged in a realistic fashion, ie with a band performing as it would on a concert stage, then there is no such thing as cheating.

    I'd be quite happy for a band to play two flugels, two sops, 4 trumpets, whatever they feel is right for the music. Although they need to be prepared that an adjudicator may not agree with them.

    Obviously you have to counter this with the music you're playing. it's fine for an orchestra to play beethoven's fifth with a heavy electric bass guitar and drums pounding away if that's what they're going for. But this could also invoke criticism from many serious musicians.. especially if it really doesn't work.

    So to me 'rules' should be left to football.. let the music live.
  5. brassintheed

    brassintheed Member

    However... I will counter that with... if we really do feel that we have to have a sport like contest with blind adjudication and strict rules, then yes, I think these should be followed.. well.. strictly. Especially when it comes to lower sections where youngsters are looking to develop.
  6. euphsrock

    euphsrock Member

    Yeh, I like that theory. To be honest, I'm still not sure if I like the whole "contesting" thing anyway, often the competition takes over from the making of the music.

    And yeh, if it is right for the music then that is different also. I also like the theory that a band should perform at a contest how they would in a concert.
    I'm not really 100% sure myself, that's why I posted, to see other people opinions.

    p.s. Yes I know it's a can of worms, lol.
  7. Martman

    Martman New Member

  8. John_D

    John_D Member

    I've played in a band that found itself short of cornet players for a contest and I ended up with 2 parts on my stand, playing the part which was most needed (in the view of the conductor).

    Does that constitute cheating?
  9. euphsrock

    euphsrock Member

    Yeh, I'm not really blaming the bands, none of those things are against official rules. I not really sure cheating was the best word to use now.
    I still don't think a good band should have to use those techniques and a contest is different from a concert in that the point is partly to distinguish who is better, it is a contest after all.

    I think if there is a reason, like unavoidable player shortage, or once I was with a band and the flugal player cracked her front tooth days before so we had to put anything high on cornet, then that's fine.
  10. boagy

    boagy Member

    You just contradicted what your opening statement was about!! It happens!! MD's/Resident Conductors/Director of Music, what ever the title need to adapt to the numbers/standard and quality of player they have to gain the desired effect. This includes sticking a 'duster' over the bell etc
  11. euphsrock

    euphsrock Member

    Sorry. I guess I probably have. I do that a lot. I'm willing to change my opinion based on what people say here, as you are all probably alot more experienced in bands and contesting than me. That's why i posted it, to see if it's just me, I'm willing to admit I may be wrong, and in which case, if I ever conduct a band at contest level I may too one day use some of those tricks!

    What most people seem to be saying is in the end, it's the final sound that's important, not how you get there. Which, yeh, is true.

    I guess the composer in me thinks something like if the best way to achieve the desired effect is to not dovetail, or to have that line on solo cornet not 2nd or whatever, then why didn't the composer of the piece write it that way in the first place? There must have been a reason that he wanted a particularly exposed line on 2nd cornet not solo or whatever?
  12. Euph1175

    Euph1175 New Member

    I for one agree with you here. After watching quite a lot of bands in Torquay, I think that it is unfair that back row players have their important bits taken by the front row as well as the other mentioned ways of enhancing your performance. If your band can did it by the score, then they should be placed higher than bands that didn't, as i think this is more of a true representation of what the composer intended.

    Saying that, I am one of those in favour of open adjudication.

    Can of worms?:-?
  13. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    There may well have been a reason, but whether it was a musical one is a whole different matter.
    For me, this is one of the reasons I find many test pieces less than thrilling - they are written as a test for the band, not a piece of music. You find solos on instruments and parts that basically don't make much sense, unless the composer is doing it purely for the reason of "let's see how they cope with this."

    As for the dusters - personally, if the adjudicator can't hear the difference, that is more a reflection upon them than the band.

    As with many things - they might not go against the rules, but they can feel like they are against the spirit of the competition.
  14. boagy

    boagy Member

    I can see your point of few but with most bands outside the Top Section (and even then) if you have a 2nd Cornet player who chooses to sit in that seat but is more than capable of playing anything 'higher' in the section, then if you run into a problem with your nominated Solo Cornet player then you have a good 'sub' to get you through the contest. I am happy to say that I did not use such a technique this weekend and the band and my self are very happy with the 3rd place in the 3rd Section in our first year up.......
  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Personally, I don't think contests are about making music. They are about getting an adjudicator to give you marks/grades/points . Whether those marks/grades/points are given for playing exactly what is on the copy or about re-jigging the music to suit your band's abilities so that you can persuade/fooo the man in the box that you did, honest guv, is a moot point.
  16. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    Depends who's in the box I guess.. That's where we get our ""dodgy"" results from on some contests!
  17. Euphanasia

    Euphanasia Member

    If someone is struggling with a particular section, and time is short, surely we just re-score the bit they are having trouble with and give it to someone else? - After all, that's what we'd do for a concert performance isn't it?
    Either that or risk a vital element of the structure of the piece not going in........
    Personally, I would rather do that and go to a contest with my own band than get a 'ringer' in to cover the whole part.......or end up with a stressed player who then underperforms the whole piece because they are so worried about the few bars which send them off into the deep end......
  18. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member


    Even more disappointing to see the very top bands do these things quite extensively when you'd expect them to have the players in place to play the parts as written.
  19. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    But sometimes composers write stuff which just doesn't work... expecting a tune on one instrument in the middle of the band at mf to carry over flourishy stuff by a whole cornet section playing at ff for example. Or 4 people on one line and only 1 on another and expecting balance? sometimes we have to adapt to help the music make sense.

    Does that mean all those years I played all that orchestral stuff marked trumpet in d or e- flat etc on a standard b-flat I was cheating because I wasn't using the pitched instument? Lock me up and throw away the key then!
  20. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Some of you need to chill out.

    Why do you contest? If you're playing for Grimey or similar it is probably all about the glory and death to the opposition. If you're in the other 99% of the banding world you are either:

    A) hoping to become Grimey

    B) doing it for fun

    If you are an A then perhaps you should consider using these small challenges within the contest music to improve the abilities of your players and ensemble. A couple of places lower today will mean a better band tomorrow. When you make it to the top 1% and results really do mean life or death, stretching the rules beyond their intention without breaking them will probably become necessary. For now though it is poorly spent energy that will only pay back once and be forgotten the following day.

    If you're a B then maybe you do want to stretch the rules and 'ethos' of contesting as far as possible to get a better result than you might otherwise. I remember placing at a very pretigious contest as a younger man where anything exposed or trickier than a semibreve was passed to an end chair player. Least satisfying victory ever.

    If you are a C (not at a contest) then do whatever you wish to make the most of the music you are performing. Music has no rules really other than those dictated by our own tastes.

    As a player I get grumpy if anything is taken away from me in contest music. It happened a bit as a lad and I always felt I had been denied an opportunity to grow and move up.

    As a conductor I insist that every player at contest plays their parts as written. The front row are drowining out an mf tune on the back? Then some players need to be louder and others need to be quiter. Go home and practice, come back next week better. A problem dealt with is better than a problem passed on.

    Should adjudicators punish this? I think yes, however I understand that must be hard when they're behind a curtain. Another strong reason to switch to open adjudication in my opinion.
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