Contests to separate the men from the boys!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JonP, May 19, 2006.

  1. JonP

    JonP Member

    Its 6pm, the final "dong" of big ben is dying in the damp air, the mist in low on the Thames and opposite Hyde park a single light can be seen in the upper circle bar of the Royal Albert hall. The reception room is large, like a regal drawing room. Rich reds, deep blues, guilted funature and large oil paintings ooze the spendour of an unstated regal lament, obvious to those not used to such surroundings and acceptable to those used to finer.

    21 ladies and gentlemen, dressed in band walking outs, look at each other with nervous glances as the committee enter the room. The test piece is presented and adjudicators and composer (if alive) give a summary of what they will be looking for in 16 hours time, when the first band takes the stage for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, arguably the most coveted prize in the banding world.

    Imagine having to play a piece at 16 hours notice. The intense thoughts of a musical director, the focus that would be required by the players, the preparation in anticipation of what may or may not be in that 14 minutes of musical test!

    I suggest that a competition where bands have to perform a work, of reasonable diffuculty for the cirumstances, would prove a much better test of which band is actually the best, and would be a magnificent exhibition of banding prowess, musical directorship, and many other aspects we currently do not explore.

    A different disipline, that could only compliment what we already have, but i think actualy a better or at least tougher test.

    It would certainly sort the men out from the boys!

    What do you think??
    Last edited: May 20, 2006
  2. Space Cowboy

    Space Cowboy Member

    Sounds good to me.

    Does it mean I wouldn't have to go to band nearly every night for a fortnight before the contest?
  3. Ah.... but "best" at what? For any normal (non-competition) event, you get weeks, months or years of practice at most of the pieces. The current method is a good way of finding out how good you can get. I can't see many circumstances in which you'd need to sight-read something and get it down pat in an evening. It would be a good test of ability, but with limited applications?
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    One major factor that would decide who's best is the sight-reading skills of individual players! The more players a band has that have this ability to anticipate what's there and play musically at this time would benefit the most. It would also mean a shake-up in the way bands sign players for this contest. Publishers would hire the top bands to promote new works at a moment's notice and new teachers would emerge to teach this forward looking performance skill after trying to break down the components that produces it. Exercise books would become very popular again but in more exotic forms.
  5. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    I thought a contest was to see how good a certain band can play a certain piece of music, not just how good a certain band is. Some bands may take a little longer to rehearse a certain piece then another band, but in my opinion this doesn't matter at all, and nor should it to adjudicators.

    From a listener's point of view, I would rather go to a contest with bands that are well prepared to play a piece, then to listen to 20 bands that are having trouble reachting the end of a piece. (some maybe a bit more then others).

    Also, if you would really want your idea to work, it would only be possible with a new commisioned piece that none of the players or conductors has done before. That would make it even worse to the audience. Conductors should study a score, think about their interpretation etc. before starting to rehearse it with a band!
  6. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    Could be that with 16 hours rehearsal, your lips would be too tired to perform the said piece?
  7. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    And everyone would fall asleep on stage ;-)
  8. Splitone

    Splitone Member

    Isn't sight reading just another aspect of a players technique?
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - not everybody is good at this though, even in some of the top bands. It's only natural that some people take longer to master and control new things they encounter.
  10. Splitone

    Splitone Member

    True, but like all weaknesses in our technique, they are the areas we should concentrate on. I, like most players have some strong areas of technique, many that are okay, and some that are a weakness. I have to say that these weak areas are actual physical techniques, that are neglected because they either are not used by me that often, or don't fit into my regular playing/practice schedule. Reading music, which is basically what sight reading is, fits in to just about every ones schedule, and so should be improving on a daily basis.

    I should add that when I need to use one of my weaker areas, then the proverbial hits the fan, and I enter the locked room with Mr Arban & Mr LaFosse! I know that for many of us amateur players we have to fit our practice around family/work/band, and we can't spend the time many of us would like to have a perfect technique. But, it is possible to save time by planning our practice. For instance why not find a new exercise for tongueing. That way, your practice stays fresh, your neighbours stay happy because you are playing something different, your tongueing improves, and the bonus is you are also practicing your sight reading.
  11. JonP

    JonP Member

    Not necessarily, an older work could be used, but no band would know what that piece would be. For instance, a piece like Land of The Long White Cloud could be selected, but it could only be known to the addjudicators and the contest committee, absolute secrecy would be paramount.

    No greater a secret than the draw of a contest in an age with text messages and mobiles in adjudicators pockets. Especially with web sites publishing the entire draw 2 mins after the event and texting it to all subscribers.

    Im sure we could manage it.

    I doubt it, im sure every band would be pulling music from the library and trying to master it in superfast time. Its possible this would lead to a more intense but perhaps more rewarding and interesting contest preparation.
    Last edited: May 20, 2006
  12. JonP

    JonP Member

    I beg to differ, its an aspect of musicianship that has to be practised and mastered. Our system of contests simply does not require players to develop the skill to the same level as other aspects of thier playing.

    Splitone has this absolutely correct.
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Jon, would you go into a recording studio or premiere concert sight-reading a new avant-garde piece written in a notation (e.g., graphic) that you are not familiar with? I agree that more exposure to and learning of non-familiar musical patterns can help towards the goal of being a total-musician but not everyone is gifted with the same capacity of active memory processes. There is also the issue of being aware of and getting access to different forms and styles of music to benefit from this.
  14. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I think the audiences for band contests (and players in fact) are disappearing fast enough without random ideas like this. Pay £15 to watch half the bands make an **** of it? Someone hold me back!
  15. FlugelD

    FlugelD Member

    21 bands, at 3 bands per hour, is 7 hours - makes the draw pretty important, if last band on gets that much time/rehearsal advantage over the first band...
  16. JonP

    JonP Member

    Well of course. When i was working with the Remix Ensemble in Porto, you play brand new music all the time, and are expected to perform it and even record it after minimal reharsal. Accepted tihs is a specialitst ensemble for contemporary music but tehanswer ot your question is yes.

    2 Julys ago i was asked to work with the Halle where i played Bass Trumpet on Strauss' Macbeth. We rehe***** for 15 minutes (its a 40 minute piece) and then began recording. I experienced similar while recording in June 2001 with te Philharmonia Orchestra at Abbey road. We were recording Oidipus Rex (I was playing Alto Bone) and there was no rehearsal. The first run was recorded! No one was more surprised than I was at a naive 21 but thats the way it was. Im not trying to say that this is the norm but it is definatly not an outragous scenario.
    Its part of the job. I know its the same with sessions all over the country, recording time is presious and reherasal time is very expensive!!

    I know Bands are amature etc etc, but actually a fine ensemble, (remember our finest bands are actually better tha some pro ensembles) should not need 7-15 rehearsals on a 15 minute piece to pull it off. We should be able to do it much fater than that ans i think it would be a great test to see who is actually the best at it.

    Dont you Agree??
  17. JonP

    JonP Member

    I think people would pay to perhaps see some of our greatest bands struggle, or show their prowess. I cirtainly would!!
  18. jingleram

    jingleram Active Member

    Many very good points here, I hadn't thought of it in that way before!
  19. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I do believe that bands can take less rehearsal time than required to be performance-ready but for most, it may prove more difficult to demonstrate in reality because it is not their usual day job. If players were allowed access to parts in advance of the short-term rehearsal period then it might be a different story altogether. They would have a chance to practice parts and have them ready to be moulded and sculpted into the final sound picture at a moment's notice by the musical director. Out of interest, how much notice do professional orchestral players get for concert or recording events?
  20. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    Fair enough... think I'll save my money for something more enjoyable. Like a blender big enough for my head.

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