Critical Brass Theory..........

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Shaggy, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    ....the sad demise of my band needs some sort of explanation, over and above the comments I have made so far. Never mind the solving of "Poincares Conjecture", an easy task comapared to the question, what causes a band to finally pack in?

    The banal answer of course is, lack of players, as in the old addage "what did he die from?....answer...he was short of breath" yep, we all know that bit dont we?

    The question is, why were we short of players? and why were we unable to recruit any new ones?

    The answer is......... "Alice in Wonderland" ......this bizzar world that is the Brass Band movement. No means yes, and yes means no. You win a few contests, and suddenly you are all "bezzy mates in the whole wide world", loose a few, and suddenly you feel about as welcome as a fart in a space suit in your own band room.

    You ring a whole string of players who all say "yes" they will come down for a blow, but what they really meant was "no, stick your band up your ****".

    You deal with all manner of email inquires as a result of adds on this site,FBR and our own web site, they all say "yes, I will come to your next rehearsal, when is it?" but what they mean is "no, stick your band up your ****" and you never see them.

    Whats going on here? its got me beat.

    The other part of the equation is what I call....." critical brass mass". If you have a small outfit, i.e. ten to fifteen competant and RELIABLE players who you can rely on to turn up day in and day out, you can survive quite well. When it comes to contests you can always twist the same old arms to make up the numbers, and the same old arms will turn out for you and give you a respectable result.

    However if you fall below this critical mass, it becomes impossible to turn it round, word goes round that you are "in trouble". This rummour is confirmed by the amount of borrowed players you have to rely on to do a gig, who report back to their own bands that you are "in trouble" so any players who might want to move from these bands wont move to your band because you are "in trouble".

    Then you start advertising for players on TMP,4BR and your own web site, which is of course more evidence that your band is ...."in trouble" and more reason not to join your band.

    Sometimes you might get lucky, and the odd player or two may turn up at your band room. They will of course have a good look round at what you have, and ask the usual questions about how many players you really have. They usually then decide not to join you because you are short of players, which is of course why you ran the add, and it is because they read the add that they have turned up in your band room to discover the fact that you are short of players, which is why you have an add in the first place.

    These players of course are never seen again, but of course they report back to other bands that you are................"in trouble" so of course when your next add is seen no one will apply because........well, you get the idea.
  2. postie

    postie Member

    Having read your comments regarding the demise of Darley Dale I can only agree with what your are saying. It's like in everything else people love gossip and hearing what is going at other bands. So unfortunatly people will spread gossip and rumours around it's just way things are. At the end of the day their are less players around these days due to the commitment that is needed.
  3. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    success can be a double-edged sword for bands. Do you have a youth/ junior band?
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Spot on. This is precisely what happened at Blackley when I was there, we were down to 6-8 regular players, well below the "critical mass" and you're right - with 12-15 you can get away with it, less than that and you're knackered. It gets impossible to do anything and, just as you say, nobody wants to come down for a blow because of all the runours.

    In one of the few happy stories of recent years, I can report that the last time I saw them Blackley were doing very nicely thanks in no small part to the recruitment efforts of Adie the MD. Credit is seriously due to the core of 6-8 players who held on for so long.
  5. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    I think public image and general perception of the type of band you are are equally as big a factor in interesting new members to come for a blow as supressing the rumour that you're in trouble. People not only want to know that it's worth their time coming but they also want to think that they're gonna be enjoying playing with the band they're looking to join.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Are you trying to tell me something about Darley Dales reputation 2nd man down??!!
  7. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    Not at all, just adding my 4 penneth to the discussion above. The reasons that bands fold cannot be attributed to just a couple of reasons alone, there are umpteen factors, image and avoiding the dreaded rumours i feel being pretty much up there in the top few.
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Yes I agree, but if you read my posts under "Last Waltz for darley dale" I give exactly that...."umpteen factors" try and keep up 2nd man!!
  9. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    so if all your points are in that thread, the point of this thread is...?

    I thought this one was about bands in general rather than Darlay Dale?
  10. Voldemort

    Voldemort Member

    come on shaggy, get a grip! do try and keep up.
  11. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    "the sad demise of my band needs some sort of explanation"....bit of a clue there surely?...dear oh dear, why do i bother?
  12. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member


    Just what I was thinking! ;)
  13. People like to join something that is already successful - human nature. That is why it's difficult to get the ball rolling gradually with anything. You have to start it - or restart it- with a bang. That is effectively what companies do when the rebrand or re-launch something. They hype it in advance, so that there is instant critical mass on the launch day.

    I don't know if this theory works with brass bands, but I would give it a shot: keep your core going; but tell everyone else to turn up on a particular night, and tell them there will be 'x' number of players there. If you cannot get that number, cancel it and try again. If you can, you have instant critical mass, and an instant band.

  14. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    I agree totally apart from one small detail. Substitute the "X" for "O"
  15. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    Am I coming across all bitter and resentful?....surely not!!!!
  16. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Many years ago a band i played for went down to 5 players but managed to rebuild to a full band again over 18 months
  17. 1st Position

    1st Position Member

    It's not always gossip and rumours that people spread around, sometimes it is the truth that a band is in trouble. Locally in East Yorkshire is a band, that is still graded as championship standard, that has recently had attendances as low as four! They are relying on the good will of players in other local bands to help them fulfill their engagements. They have a small junior band, but until recently have done little to try and solve their crisis in terms of advertising or actively seeking new players. It isn't gossip, or rumour, that this band is in trouble - it is the truth.

    It is sad whenever a band gets in to this position, and as I have mentioned players from other bands have stopped the final nail from being hammered home. The more bands in an locality, the better it is for all of the bands, (healthy competition, higher profile, more players) that is why the help has been given. But,if a band just says we are okay, denies the rumours of trouble and buries their head, help won't be forthcoming, so hastening its possible demise. If you are in trouble, ask for help. It may not help your contest rating, you may have to drop a section or two, but at least you can do your concerts and keep the profile/name of the band in peoples thoughts.
  18. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    There is the euphoria aspect to consider. This is where a person is naturally excited about the prospect of furthering their hobby/life, but then has sobering thoughts afterwards.

    For example - a band needs a BBb instrument, and sees one for a ludicrous price on eBay. "Let's get it!" is swiftly followed by a reality check from the treasurer/chairman/person in the know. So the instrument isn't bought because it is not the right one for the band.

    Or when a band is advertising a first baritone post - but when you get there not only do they have a first baritone (who you know...) and a decent second baritone and you wonder what the advert is for - you know this band isn't for you, no matter how good the advertisement/sell was.

    To put this into a banding perspective relative to this thread, a person may feel euphoric on seeing an advert for a band that is geographically, sectionally and socially attractive to them. This results in a quick call to the band, an invite to join the next rehearsal - and everything seems great.

    Then... hang on a mo, perhaps Dave Payn, 2MD, BBCBass or any other depaholic knows something about this band? The image of the band in the eyes of the new recruit might then change. Again, the reality check. If what the person hears from the third party is not so good, then it is easier for them not to turn up in the first place than to have to say why they are not returning.

    Equally, with the plethora of band and banding websites, it is quite easy to find reports and comments from band members. This again may lead to a different viewpoint than has been gained from the advert and/or first phone call.

    So, from my perspective, I do not believe it's straightforward to criticise people for not joining or staying with a band. It is a big decision to make to join a new set of friends and acquaintances, and one that each person will consider deeply before they join, then immediately reconsider after their first rehearsal - and again after 3 and 6 months.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2006
  19. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    I appreciate what you say about "hanging in there" but thats what we have been doing for five or six years! i have tried to carry on as if we are a full band, with all the normal events of a thriving band,contests,concerts,social functions,committee meetings,agm's and all the rest. However its all come to nought.

    A word of caution for other bands.If you start to get more people at committee meetings than you do at rehearsals, you know your facing the scrap heap.