Contesting. Is it a disease?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by steve butler, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Most people who know me will know I profess not to like contesting. Most who know me well are aware that I also get very involved once actually preparing/competing in contests. Usually to the extent of ending up either getting a bit carried away, or rather despondent about prospects.
    Then, ending up with inflated view of the bands ability or, un-realistically dissappointed/ dissillusioned.

    I always, convince myself that "at this contest I will remain detached, just play to the best of my ability and not let the outcome affect me to much". But no, the contest disease takes over and my usual philosophy of "competitive" music being a misnomer, goes out of the window!

    On the other hand, I love the "event" side of things. Yesterday at Butlins it was great bumping into loads of friends.
    "Old" mates from former glory years, Dave Matthewman and Ray Laite, old banding colleagues/ good friends from Kippax, other mates I have made in recent times with YEP and other bands I visited earlier this year, and tMP mates such as Agent orange, RobHibberd, Shaggy (let him back please) and the lovely Mrs Bucket.

    Maybe the answer to my problem (or the cure to my disease) would be to pack it in and just become an occasional follower, for the social side? But then how do I satisfy all my musical needs?

    I think I need therapy,anyone out there with any answers to my problem?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  2. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    It frightens the pants off me especially the waiting bit before registration and getting on stage but I love the detailed rehearsals and sectionals. The only cure is give up altogether I think Steve - go "cold turkey" but then why should you - just accept and enjoy the good bits of the event and getting involved means you care doesn`t it?
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Heheheheheh! I won't answer that on, Steve! ;)

    Not so much of a disease, but I see banding as a difficult-to-control hobby ... verging on addiction! For anyone who shows true committment, this pastime invades daily life more than you would think. If you get a chance to step outside to look in, you wonder why you acted as you did! Once back in, it takes over again. Vicious circle. I think Bill Shankly said something similar about his addiction ... football!
  4. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I'm told I have "Healing hands"

    - Wilkie
  5. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Steve, I do find it rather incongruous that on this thread you are talking about the joy meeting up with old mates and how the contest fever strikes you down, and on another contiguous thread people are discussing how to get rid of their "mates" from their band in the pursuit of contesting glory :confused:
  6. jim

    jim Member

    I was only talking about this yesterday, for me contesting is only fun if you win, if you do not it can be the horrible place in the world. Contest to me is bandings best but worse enemy.

    The best because it raises the standards so hie and the level of music making being made by for the best part amateur musicians is that on pass with a top symphony orchestra at times.

    The worst because we all want to win however we do it we poach players bye in players tearing bands apart at times, whatever just to achieve something, to win that contest or other which in my view is not always a healthy situation.

    Love it or loath it know doubt we will all be there at the areas, wanting to win our relevant sections
  7. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I can't help the fact that you are puzzled/confused Geoff. I'm struggling with my own feelings as I hoped my opening post may have indicated.
    I don't have control on how bands choose to hire and fire, nor do I wish to have. I have chosen to play in "lower section bands" for my own reasons, but that is for debate on the other thread maybe :wink:.

    How about a comment on my original question Geoff?
  8. Chris Thomas

    Chris Thomas Member

    Searching for musical satisfaction at contests is like looking for a knee-trembler in a whist drive.

    Isn't the journey more enjoyable than the destination?
  9. I have to agree with brassneck, brass banding does become an addiction for those who are passionate about it all and contesting is part of it the brass band world.

    Contesting, like anything, has its positives and negatives. It depends how you perceive it in your own mind.

    For me, I don't say that losing or a bad breaks my heart and makes me feel like giving up. It just makes me more determined for the next contest and doing better at rehearsals. For example, the last contest we played we didn't do as well as we hoped but, it didn't make me feel totally gutted. Ok, after hearing the result I did a bit of swearing and my head was down but it passed and it was good to socialise with people I only really see at contests and reflect with members of the band.

    I get a buzz out of contesting and being on the stage knowing you have to play your best. It's different to the buzz of being on stage at a concert. To me concerts seem a little more relaxed because you're not being critically judged on every note by an adjudicator. But, that is a bit of a different topic.

    So, yea in a way contesting is a disease but, its part of a bigger one called brass banding. Gets under your skin and into your blood and you just can't get rid of it. :)
  10. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Well Tom, I did take a step back many moons ago. I walked away from banding at the age of 21 and didn't return fully until I was in my 40's.
    My last performance on that occasion was winning the Yorks area in 1975 on Journey into Freedom, not a bad way to leave for an EEb player, and I didn't like contests then!

    And yes, it did all look quite trivial from the "outside" , and yes you are right Tom, here I am older and NO wiser, being dragged back into the mire!

    No fool like an old fool eh?
  11. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Ever thought of going into the Amateur Orchestra scene Mr B?
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Same happened to me. When I studied music in the late '70s, no curriculum existed for my weapon of choice, tenor horn, so I had to quickly learn french horn. I struggled to meet the demands of a heavy college programme and maintain expectations at championship level contesting (... I also had my embouchure reconstructed to compile the situation). I had about 10 years away from banding (apart from playing once at the Edinburgh Festival contest as a dep.) and was dragged back into banding on cornet (my first instrument). The addiction quickly grabbed hold again and instead of building slowly, I paid the price of rushing my playing back and suffered dental problems as a result, but never was quite able to control that 'rush' of contesting & the build-up to it.
  13. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    OK, Steve. I don’t actually think you’ve got a problem. At least, if you have, I share it. I happen to think that contesting tends to bring out the worst in some people. You only have to read some of the comments on the Regionals threads on here to see that. This band had x number of ringers, the adjudicator’s deaf, we had a bad draw, the band that came last should have won etc., etc.

    You appear to recognise that there is more to banding than contesting and are thinking about your approach. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, as far as I can see.

    I play for enjoyment. I am not very interested in pitting myself against other players. I’ll be better than some and not as good as others. Yes, it’s great to have a good result, and a bit depressing if you get a bad one. The primary benefit of contesting, as far as I’m concerned, is that it focuses the mind, and the band as a whole improves. I love the challenge of the preparation but hate the actual contest experience – too stressful for me, but I go along with it to support the rest of my band.

    I expect there are as many opinions as there are players, but everyone views banding from their own perspective. Some will have been involved from a very tender age and are virtually indoctrinated.

    I didn’t pick up an instrument until well into my 50’s and it happened to be a trombone. Health problems have recently prevented me from continuing with the trombone, so I had a choice – pack it in altogether, or learn another instrument.

    I took the latter course, bought a tenor horn and I’m practising like mad to be able to play it to the requisite standard by the end of March. This isn’t because I love contesting, it’s because I love to play music and I love a challenge.

    If you feel that you no longer need nor enjoy the challenge presented by contesting, don’t do it. You might find that your musical needs can be fulfilled by continuing with your band in a non-contesting rôle – encouraging those who want to compete, going along to give your support and just playing out in concerts.

    How many times have I read on tMP, it’s just a hobby. To some, it’s a passion or a profession, but if it is just a hobby for you, you should be doing it in a manner that brings you fun, relaxation and enjoyment. Surely that’s what hobbies are about.

  14. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I don't need the challenge of contesting, I like the challenge of preparing a piece(s). Continuing with a band in a non-contesting role is a non-starter - if I'm not playing at contests they need someone that will.
    Music is my passion and was for a while my profession, I do need/want musical stimulation, and yes, Ant maybe orchestral or Jazz band playing should be the direction I need to take. I am anyhow taking 3 months out shortly to go around Europe, so this will give me chance to "step back" and re-evaluate what I want to do musically in the future.

    However enough of my illness :D, lets here more of other peoples stresses or coping strategies.......
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  15. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    Contesting is it a disease??
    Well I have never court it and i'm unlikely to. I find it a pain.
  16. jockinafrock

    jockinafrock Active Member

    Hmm - to me it's not a disease, nor a compulsion, just a very enjoyable part of my banding life. It stretches my playing ability, sometimes puts me under a great deal of pressure, but it makes me knuckle down. :tongue:
    I've been at contests where the band has fallen apart and ground to a halt, only to pick up and keep going; I've won a few, been runner-up in a few more and way down the line in too many to count, but I keep going back. I've whinged at the results and commented on conspiracies, but I do like the excitement. I'm the same at solo comps, tho' sometimes I do wonder why I put myself thru' it... :redface:
  17. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Tom what a great name to mention here:clap:
  18. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Who is Bill Shankly?
  19. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    Yeah! There's something that's guaranteed to make banding look infinitely more fun and attractive! Every time I get a bit sick of bands I do a few random orchestra gigs and it fixes me!

    I'm guessing he's some old scottish football dude from days of yore?

    Further advice to Mr B, I like prep for contests but can't be bothered with the rest so I do the work (ish), go to the contest then as soon as I come off stage I catch up with people in the bar and only go listen to bands that friends play for to show them some support. I don't go to the results anymore cos the results don't mean diddly and as long as I'm happy with how we've played I'm happy. If not then I put it down to another bad day out. I don't ever say we were robbed cos unless i've listened to everyone else who was placed in front then I don't know.... and that would waste too much bar time!!! I enjoy winning as much as the next person but just class it as a nice end to the contest. I've had more good results delivered to me in the bar in recent years than I ever did sitting through a load of mind numbing speeches waiting for something to happen. :roll:

    Try it it's fun! and at least if u do well u'll always have a drink in ur hand to celebrate!:guiness
  20. superjobby

    superjobby Member

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am usually hyperactive and loud, but the time in the run up to going on stage I withdraw into myself, I go quiet and I do a LOT of pacing about. Sometimes I go for walks to be by myself, cos I get massively nervous. I also smoke like a chimney, which doesn't exactly help!! :rolleyes:

    If the band don't play well on stage, it is a horrible feeling, but at least then if we don't come anywhere you're half expecting it.

    I agree with your original point Steve. The absolute worst feeling is when you come off stage thinking that the band's played a blinder, and then you come nowhere. Especially when bands you have heard and not been majorly impressed with come above you. :mad: It happens, that's just the way it is sometimes, but it does make you question why you do it..

    It happened to us fairly recently, and afterwards the adjudicator came over to us as he knew one of our band members. First he nicked a fag off one of our players, then he took the remarks from our conductor and started telling us what we had done wrong in a really cheery and (it must be said) aggravating manner, completely oblivious to the mood around him. I was absolutely furious, it's the last thing you need. I left there and then, in case I let my mouth run away from me, and so did quite a few others.

    After that I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the contesting thing, but it really gets under your skin, and I know I'd miss it if I left.

    You may find after 3 months away that the break was what you needed, and you may want to throw yourself straight back into it. I hope it works out for you! :)