"Deps" - and payment?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bbg, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. bbg

    bbg Member

    Touched on this subject in the recent "percussion" thread, so thought I'd throw it open.

    How many bands actually rely on / budget for regular "deps" in order to compete?

    One poster in the other thread referred to a band paying into four figures for 3 players for an Area contest - how can an amateur band justify that kind of money?

    We at Perthshire are a typical , subscription paying, can rattling, concerts of all sizes band who couldn't even countenance paying players to help at a contest. The band on the contest stage is the band that does the all year round hard graft (5 jobs between youth / senior bands between Fri 2 and Mon 5 July coming up for instance), we stand or fall by our own home-grown players. Due to various genuine absences of senior players at a recent contest, we fielded a cornet section with 9 teenagers and an all-Youth band trombone section - OK, we came last but valuable senior experience for some talented youngsters.

    Are there actually bands who don't maintain a full register, knowing that their lineup will change from contest to contest and that several players each time will have no sense of belonging to the band at all?

    Thoughts from all sides appreciated..................
  2. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I don't think there's any doubt that there are bands whose contest lineup is very different from their "day-to-day" lineup, however how much of that is deliberate and how much is forced upon them varies a lot between bands. People's commitment levels vary widely, number one reason usually being work (but there can be others) and it might be that they can only commit to doing contests. You like us are very lucky these days to have a full contingent that turns out to every job they can, some bands don't have that.
    It can be a difficult decision for the band management - do you keep paying out for deps in order to compete at a higher level, or do you recruit less able (but more committed) players and accept that you may go down a section (or more)? It can be financial suicide - if a high percentage of your job money is going on deps you could soon be in dire straits.
    I don't have a problem with any band getting people in when they are genuinely short of players (which is the vast majority I'm sure, especially lower down the sections) but it can be disappointing to be beaten at a contest by a band who've "bought in" a load of players just to try and win it - to me they aren't "the band".
    If I was one of the regular players who'd been moved aside for a dep just so the band could do better I think I'd be pretty miffed.
    The situation may be different the higher up you go - amateur movement banding may be, but right at the top it's at least semi-professional (if not fully) for some people so the practice may be more "normal" or acceptable - which still doesn't necessarily mean it's right, but the pressure to succeed is a lot higher (potential loss of sponsors, etc).
    Having a junior/training/feeder band is vital these days, not only can it give you a pool of replacement
    players if required, but it ensures the bands future!


    This is one reason why I don t stand outside in the cold all December playing carols anymore...Ive been a member of several bands who spend most if not all of the money raised on deps for the area ! I know this is true because I was paid £300 for 6 practices and the area.It cost this "championship section band " well over £2000 to go to the area ....they were last .I did not question the amount that I was paid because 6 others got the same amount and 1 player got more than the rest !


    For the record....I now play in a non contesting band helping new players and we all pay subs..We don t pay deps either.
  5. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Come on Stuart, it hasn't been that long since you were moaning about not being paid for 'depping' with a band (my memory seems better than yours!).
    We have discussed this at length before and as is noted, some bands pay, some don't.
    Didn't you also state that you would never help a certain Championship Section band again because they never paid you?
    Now you are championing NOT paying deps!
    The mind boggles!
    Bands, in my opinion should offer payment for deps who travel to help them. Otherwise, some people might never help them again.:rolleyes:
  6. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Back in the UK I did a LOT of depping and ended up making a fair bit of beer cash for my sins. I often felt bands were spending unwisely when that cash could be used to 'invest' in a permanent member somehow.

    Here in NZ, generally no one gets paid for this kind of thing - even when professional orchestral types are drafted in, it is just for a favour in return one day.

    Interesting thread, will be reading.


    Yes you do have a good memory ! I was "moaning at the way I was treated...no one even thanked me for helping out or even asked me what payment,if any,I wanted.Ive helped loads of bands out for nothing over the years, but I think a little respect would go a long way.My main concern is the amount that some players charge.I m quite happy to help bands out for nothing but if the dep next to me is being paid 50 quid I m afraid that I m having the same.


    Get the next flight back to the OK....Loads of bands are short of trombone players!
  9. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    I am available to help out as long as travelling expenses are paid :p


    I know one or two bands that would pay your airfare for the yorkshire area....Things are bad now !:p
  11. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    YES PLEASE! Well worth it for an ale in St George's...


    The post you refer to is over 2 years ago..I m older now !:ranting2:
  13. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    I have to pay everyone.
  14. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Now then Stuart, about my original point. Isn't this the second time that you have responded to my post? My first point was about your memory - or have you forgotten?
    Could you also explain the 'smiley'? Have you lost your sense of humour?:rolleyes:
    For a person who refers to 'respect' so often, I am not sure that this is a consistent response.
    If the Yorkshire Area is in such dire-straights, why is this not being reflected in the results?
    Every region is suffering from player numbers deficiencies.
    Some of the reason may be due to the political nature of the beast. Hence this excellent site!


    What Post do you mean I ve forgot!:D;)
  16. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    I play a little bit professionally. Mainly orchestral gigs funded by the Scottish Arts Council. However i would never, under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever (no not in a million years) ask or expect payment from a brass band. Here is why:

    Brass bands are probably the peak of amateur music making in the UK. Even the lowest 4th section band is better than a medium rate amateur orchestra. This has happened because the players are committed to the bands, turn up to rehearsals and enjoy doing it. The whole ethos of brass banding is that it is done for the love of it. if money is introduced that means people turning up on the day to play with some being paid and some not. The whole feeling of the band as a team is damaged.

    Recently i saw a comment by a former full time orchestral trumpet player who gave it all up, got a day job and now plays in a brass band for no payment. He says he has never had as much fun playing music simply for its own sake.

    On the issue of "depping" or holding people onthe books simply for contests, thats a long way from the idea of a band that represents a community. I guess its inevitable as the bigger bands have more clout, but there is a danger of lower section bands not getting accessto good younger players because they have been signed to higher up bands who may not be using them.

    If it were up to me (which you will be glad to know it isn't) it would be:

    • No payments ever.
    • No re-signing with a previous band for 12 months.
    • Stricter limit on the number of players that can be signed to one band.
    • No guest players at contests at all.
    I am not sure there is a huge lack of players. Locally we have had a number of band mergers over the past 20 years but several new bands have also been formed so the overall number of bands (and players) is not down by as much as would first appear. Maybe its different in other areas. We may be lucky in the emphasis that brass teaching gets in schools. Apparently West Lothian Council have three sets of bagpipes between all the primary schools, but most primary schools have half a dozen or more brass instruments each.
  17. Jack

    Jack Member

    I personally think that deps shouldn't be paid but should be offered petrol money. Being only 18, I use my mums car for stuff and she charges me petrol. I'm quite happy to pay to get to my own bands concerts and stuff but i would much rather stay in and play at home and not spend any money rather than pay to help another band that I may of never even played for before. This may be just me being a poor student but I think petrol money should atleast be offered. Obviously this is no where near the ridiculous amounts of £300 mentioned as my mums car it costs about 10p a mile. However if a lift is being offered then it is at no expense to me so I wouldn't charge.
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I happened to be at a concert by a medium rate amateur orchestra in your neck of the woods recently. It was vastly better than the lowest 4th section band, and the superior quality of the programmed music made it a much more enjoyable experience than would have been listening to a brass band of the same standard. Let's not get overinflated in our estimations of ourselves.

    This isn't any different to amateur orchestras... Okay, you don't see the best amateur orchestras rehearsing 7 nights a week in preparation for jobs, but the two streams of music-making are, contests apart, pretty closely equivalent.
  19. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    That depends entirely on the string section...... much like cornets in a brass band.

    I'm really glad it's not up to you too. I disagree with paying players over the odds but there's nothing wrong with giving players fair travel expenses. Am sure you can't re-sign to a previous band for a year here anyway. I don't think the issue with numbers of players on the books is relevant because I've never been aware of problems with bands releasing players when required unless they owe money. As for no guests at contests? I'm guessing you have a charmed life with a Monday to Friday 9-5 working week? There are plenty of players out there who can't abuse their shift patterns to fit the contest schedules. I take the week off leading up to the areas every year and hope that I get enough notice to use some leave or request time off for any other contests or fixed concerts. I'm very lucky that my band are understanding of my irregular schedule but why should contests be any different to concerts? If I had a more regular routine I'd be at every band gig but unfortunately life just aint like that. No disrespect but by choosing to play in a 4th section band you don't have to contest at all! You can choose to only attend the area contest and if you don't like the piece you can decide not to go. This would have no effect but in any other section would put relegation into the frame. Whilst I know deps aren't allowed at the Scottish, I feel in order to progress a band needs to keep its contesting hat on throughout the year.

    Trust me it is! But thank god there's only 3 sets of bagpipes! (how many at high schools though?)

    And weren't the trumpet section awesome? ;) I agree that its a crazy overestimation. I'm sure a "medium rate amateur orchestra" would sound as fantastic playing a programme of classic marches and floral dance and other "popular classics" as any 4th section band. But would a 4th section band manage to do justice to a programme of orchestral transcriptions? Not really the most sensible comparison I've ever heard. I love brass bands but we seriously need to know our limits!


    What about introducing a fixed fee for deps throughout the UK..eg,BBbass players get £80 a job,EE basses £60, troms £40,euphs baris £30 horns £20,cornets £10 and drummers £5...this would be a fair price taking into account the size of the instrument and how important it is .

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