Community Organisations Today...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by nethers, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    If I am reading marksmith's thoughts correctly here I am a ...........? | Brass Band Forum he is concerned and frustrated about a perceived lack of commitment/engagement among personnel in brass bands in recent years.

    I am also concerned and I am interested in the stories of others, especially if they are success stories!

    As the years go by I have observed that the membership of bands seem to have become far more choosy about what they are prepared to do. There seem to be more people who will avoid non-glamorous activities and relatively few people who will get their hands dirty with the essential work that keeps these organisations going (admin, maintenance, PR, fundraising). It seems that people just expect this stuff to 'happen' and it is often the laziest people who complain the loudest when things have been rushed or not done at all by the small number of people shouldering the burden.

    Is this a symptom of a general lack of engagement from people these days? Are we just becoming a race of 'entitled' people who think we are above doing the necessary dirty work?

    Brass bands are my thing. Are people involved with other organisations (sports etc.) seeing the same problems?

    How do we fix this? Do we need to change the bands or change the people?
    marksmith likes this.
  2. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    My view is that this is caused by bands becoming more professional. They approach players and ask them to join "for a contest" which means they are less likely to fetch and carry, dry out music after a rainy outdoor gig, paint the band hall, turn out for carol playing etc. My anecdotal evidence is that 8 of the 10 or 12 bands within 45 minutes travel from my house are short of between 3 and 6 players. I have been approached by two championship section bands in the past month trying to recruit me to play in the Scottish Championships.

    What I sense about the brass band movement at the moment is that there is no acute shortage of players. Lots of young players are coming up, but they are not getting opportunities to keep playing on leaving school. I was listening to Mark Gould (former principal trumpet of the Met Opera in New York) talking about careers. He says that in the US there is nowhere to play the trumpet, paid or unpaid. So people are going to music college to get an opportunity to play, and then they are doing post grad and overseas post grads to keep those playing opportunities. I think we are starting to see that here on the orchestral brass side. The number of people with music performance degrees in brass bands must be at its highest ever. In local amateur orchestras the trumpet section are close to 100% music graduates, as far as I know, although none of those are really doing music for a living.

    I think the key to all of this is building an audience for local bands. A few years ago I met a conductor who had built a successful amateur orchestra in England. He said it was all about building an audience beyond family members. He felt that any amateur music group could do that with the right programmes and the ability to turn in a reasonable performance. He also said that having the right venue helped. Having a regular programme of concerts which was publicised in advance and maintaining a mailing list to get that info out helped too.

    If we have an audience then our band incomes will be tied to playing better in order to keep that audience. People will also be attracted to playing an instrument themselves.

    Sorry if this is a bit random, but I do think that community music making has more potential than it is often given credit for. Brass bands are the most organised part of community music making so most likely to succeed.
    marksmith and nethers like this.
  3. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    It has always been the case that the same people who shoulder the responsibilities, also tend to have to do the lugging etc.
    Some bands turn a blind eye to this fact and allow it to happen unchallenged, others do not.
    One of my points in earlier posts was about good communication, this is pivotal for total inclusion.
    Some committees are excellent at communicating issues and liaising with the whole cohort, this promotes ownership and inclusion.
    Others share little and thereby exclude a large proportion of the membership, leading to the lack of support in such things as helping with percussion and loading the van etc.
    It also leaves the door open to a culture of suspicion, as decisions made behind closed doors and implemented without consultation, create the negative politics which divides opinions.
    At this point, it needs remembering that all members are equal in status, share all aspects of band life and are entitled to equal considerations.
    Ironically, the only band member this might not apply to is the MD; as an employee of the band and it's membership, all requests for changes in personel/direction etc, should in theory be ratified by the membership, through their representatives (a good safety net, should this position be abused).
  4. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I agree that in many bands all the lugging and the 'dirty work' frequently ends up being done by the same small group of people - often committee members. I have noted in a couple of bands and other groups that use the internet and social media for communication that people can easily 'deny all knowledge'. Even band email systems don't catch those who don't want to be caught!

    One thing that annoys me greatly is people who turn their noses up at particular classes of jobs. "Oh, I'm not doing that it's a park job", "Oh, I don't want to do that working men's club." usually without good reason. These are often the same people who will fail to let the band know when they can't do a job until the rehearsal before, causing a panic as we struggle to find deps on short notice.

    Of course, you have to take people's personal situations into account - we are all getting older and some of us are more infirm than others - but there's a difference between those who are willing but unable and those who are unwilling but perfectly able.
    marksmith likes this.
  5. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    This is a problem in society generally, nowadays.
    I used to organise lots of trips and meetings in my job as a teacher, trying to get everyone to attend a meeting, or read correspondence, was a mare!
    Thus, I would spend hours creating groups, meeting points, times etc, only to be bombarded with questions, and having to chase after members of staff who couldn't be bothered to turn up, or read the info', on the day itself.
    I would relay electronic messages, hard copies in pigeon holes, copies on staffroom notice boards and provide ample notice of meetings etc. Pointless!!
    "No one told me", "I didn't know", "I lost my copy"............. just like some of the kids!!
    There is no better communication system than verbal but we often leave that as the last option in today's e-world.
    Bands beware, belt and braces required!
  6. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    My daughter joined a community based Dance club last year. This is growing so fast they will need new premises by Easter. The senior students (under 21 years) raise money (they organised a fun day recently), a handful of young men (aged between 18 and 21) have become involved and now run and attend adult fitness classes in the evenings after the dance classes have finished. Amazingly, their friends have also become attracted to the dance classes as they appreciate the physical strength and agility they need to perform. Most parents are happy to fund raise, sell items online, clean up, paint, whatever it takes really. It is welcome to all and whilst there are always those who just take, from what I can see, the majority have become involved which is why it is thriving.

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