Dep's for contests

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by GER, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    In part this thread reminds me of the one that got one member banned (I think it was Red October but I cannot be certain). As I recall part of the issue was players being flown in and paid decent sums of money to ‘Dep’. I feel sure that there have been several other threads on this topic over recent years too.

    Yes, if you’re in a band that didn’t win at a contest then no doubt there is a grieving and reflective process. You went to win after raising much money to compete and also expending vast amounts of time and effort to do so. It’s only reasonable to wonder whether your band was disadvantaged by the gamesmanship of other groups and, if there is some indication that that might have been the case, to feel cheated out of a rightful reward for your efforts. Trouble is when it comes to money and glory the ethics of most people go out of the window - if in doubt about that then have a look at our various political leaders.

    Edit. I see that Tom has posted in response to an earlier comment of mine (“The problem is that this is almost entirely unenforceable”) and do see his several points. I didn’t say it would be easy just that things needed to change for the better - better is not necessarily perfection.
    A decade or so back I was talking to an ex-military player of some skill. He openly told me how he was drafted in to bands to help them win competitions, is that gamesmanship or just plain cheating?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I think one of the biggest problems is that people take contesting too seriously...
    Yes, it's more of a sport than a musical/artistic endeavour in some ways, but that doesn't mean that normal sportsmanship rules apply (or atleast not always).


    Butlins, for example, could easily be seen as a business opportunity for top section bands - there's 10 grand to be won there, so if you could give yourself a very, very good chance of winning by spending (say) £500-1000 on deps (or promising fees if you get the result), then might you not want to see it as an investment/gamble?
    Same as you guys, I don't think this is particularly sporting, but every band has the opportunity to do things like this. At any rate this is an unusual contest in that that kind of prize money isn't available at other contests these days - could it be argued that the context makes the ethics different?


    The areas are a bit different - but they're very often misunderstood anyway.... the point of the areas isn't glory, it isn't prizemoney and it isn't about inflating where your band stands in scheme of things (though some bands do) - it's about being assessed relative to your peers and set at an appropriate level.
    The rabid desperation some bands have to get promoted or to avoid being relegated makes little sense to me - it doesn't make your regular rehearsal/concert standard any higher, it doesn't transform you instantly into something you're not.... sure, it'll change the difficulty of the piece you'd face next year (which may or may not be a good thing) and it'll change the difficulty of getting a warm-fuzzy result next year, but it isn't that important beyond this.
    With area contests, I'm not sure I see the point of drafting in deps unless it's to fill empty seats with equivalent quality players (which does happen) - though obviously these are then registered players and not officially "deps", so I guess that's kinda offtopic.
     
    MissBraz, Suzi Q and 4th Cornet like this.
  3. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    Not entirely 100% accurate. For some, me invluded, it's about representing your region at the finals.
     
  4. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I don't see it that way - if you qualify, then the finals is about representing your region... the area itself is about ranking, IMHO.
     
    Slider1 likes this.
  5. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    So how do you get to the finals?

    (To represent you have to qualify)
     
  6. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I mean that the areas isn't primarily about trying to qualify because you're desperate to be the representatives (even if the venue weren't so awful for lower sections, I can't imagine that'd be high on many people's lists).

    But at any rate this is somewhat tangential to what I was saying - the purpose of having area contests is to keep bands appropriately graded.
    The motivations specific bands have to perform are something of a side issue (and often blind to the purpose of that contest in the first place)
     
    Slider1 likes this.
  7. GER

    GER Active Member

    Very well put Tom, I wish someone could explain the thinking behind changing the band into something they're not. IMHO The dep system has a lot of good points, but could probably do with tightening up
     
  8. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

    This!! This!! This!!

    Although I begrudgingly enjoy contesting... It is not the be all and end all!!!
     
    2nd tenor likes this.
  9. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Oh don't get me wrong - I love it... But it's very easy to get carried away and turn it into something it's not
     
  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    From my limited perspective Miss B has hit the nail right on the head.

    I don’t contest but observe some that do. The people that I see are exceedingly focused about not going down a section and about climbing into the next section. It is apparently shameful to drop down a section and will also see your band loosing players and sponsorship too, going up a section will see the reverse of that. It might not be universal practice but more than one band I can think of boots out any player who’s skill level is going to hold back their climb up the sections, for them past service to the band counts for nothing and winning now is the only goal.

    Whilst thinking about Deps, what of the practice of a band’s usual Conductor stepping to one side to have an outside expert take them instead? I don’t know how widespread that is but surely it’s another form of gamesmanship.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  11. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I think that its fair to say that across out beloved hobby there will always be a broad spectrum of views on contests, the extremes of which are: "I don't see the point of contests", "banding should be about concerts and entertaining" right the way through to "We have to win and be the best" or "We need promotion"...

    Neither view is wrong and generally most bands will have a good mix and blend of these differing view point and be run accordingly.

    In some bands, depending on who has the control, a view can get swayed to one of the extremes and then ingrained into that organisation.... then a conductor will be engaged with a remit of "win or your gone", or "lets just entertain"... that then might affect the recruiting policy..... As a kid I actually played with a band where the conductor took a % of prize money... no guessing what happened?.. Contest contest contest...(and to be fair we won a bucket load)

    Both have their place. My suggestion? Make sure you find a band that suits your own ideology.... otherwise you will be at odds and be unhappy...
     
    Slider1 and 4th Cornet like this.
  12. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

    That is what I meant........
     
    Tom-King likes this.
  13. GER

    GER Active Member

    Oh don't get me wrong - I love it... But it's very easy to get carried away and turn it into something it's not
    That is what I meant........
    Does that not ask the question who's turnng it into something it's not? the band that is pushing the boundaries, or the people feeling aggrieved about it?. This was my first contest in 20 years, I thoroughly enjoyed it, have absolutely no idea if any bands in my section used deps, so was somewhat suprised there was quite a depth of feeling about the subject (hence the post). I take on board Tom's comments about the riches on offer, but if the few are upsetting the many, does it not at least need looking at?
     
  14. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

    I am sure (however cannot speak for every band) that there are a couple of people in each band that see it as the be all and end all. Making it the most important thing that a band does - which my personal view is, it isn't the thing I enjoy most about band.

    But once again we come back to the higher the section the probability of it being of higher priority.
     
  15. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I keep hearing that this happens, but in 30+ years I've actually never seen it with my own eyes. I can't imagine a band/committee prepared to do this would have much longevity. And how do you (in practical terms) legislate for this? How would you write a rule that differentiates between a lower section band signing a really good permanent principal cornet (maybe a "star" who's tired of the pressure of top flight banding) and the scenario you describe above? You can't stop bands signing or borrowing players that are better than perceived average standard of the band, there's already a rule that stops more than two moves a year or moving back to the "old" band within 6 months and at most contests there's a rule that prevents borrowing from higher sections. We've already got too many rules, and we all know where we'll be if we have too many rules... Germany.

    I can't think of any musical competition that prevents it, actually. Choir competitions allow it (or technically, they don't legislate to prevent it) to my knowledge. So do wind band competitions. So, to a certain extent, do many of the continental brass band contests because they don't operate a registry in the prescriptive way that British banding does. Insisting that you can only field your own registered team (as at the area or the nationals) means that your band is penalised if you have a shift worker who can't get time off, a bereaved player who is attending a funeral, have someone leave in the run-up to a contest because they've got a job at the other end of the country, or any of a thousand other reasons why the real world might intrude on a hobby. And before anyone says "it works for the area/nationals", no, it doesn't. The number of bands I've seen sign a player for the area who is never seen again after the contest, or temporarily sign a player for the finals who then re-signs for their original band for the following year's area (and is therefore a borrowed player in every aspect except the paperwork) is huge.

    No. Not in any form, ever, under any circumstances*. All that does is discourage participation. I bet up to a third of the bands at Butlins will have had at least one dep on show, without whom they potentially couldn't have gone to the contest. Sanctioning bands for using deps at contests will eventually lead to only those bands with a permanent full team all available on the contest day entering, which is great for the bands in that happy position but sucks for those bands who have shift workers that can't get time off, need three percussionists for a test-piece but only normally have two, or have current vacancies of any sort. And fewer bands going to contests means the contests stop running.

    *unless they've broken the rules to do so. In which case the redress is already there.
     
    toptutti, Slider1 and 4th Cornet like this.
  16. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I'm struggling to think of any sponsored bands? Off the top of my head there's Crewe Co-op and Roberts Bakery in the NW (who seem to hover between the upper reaches of the 1st section and the lower reaches of the Championship without it affecting their funding), beyond that I don't think there are any left? I certainly agree that there's an odd perceived shame about relegation though!

    In most bands the conductor is effectively a paid employee, though. Not a volunteer member of the band. Different scenario. In the top section there are still some (e.g. B&R, Grimethorpe, Fodens, Faireys) who use the Resident Conductor/Professional Conductor model, which is a very traditional way of doing things going back to the days of Gladney, Swift and Owen. And in some cases a lower section conductor of limited experience may not want to risk letting their band down and prefer to get a more experienced "safe pair of hands" for a contest.
     
    Slider1 likes this.
  17. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Quick reply to the above - as ever excellent stuff from Andrew, though I don’t necessarily share his view .....

    Without thinking too hard I know of two local bands that have sponsorship. Perhaps sponsorship doesn’t always require a band to change its name and the degree of sponsorship (funds) might vary and might be from multiple sources.

    To my mind a Player stepping back from a band in favour of a more capable Dep (safe pair of hands) is the same as a Conductor stepping back in favour of a Dep.
     
  18. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    So you've never heard of Premiership football teams "loaning" premiership standard players to lower division sides?
     
  19. GER

    GER Active Member

    Yes, but never for a specific match, to the best of my knowledge they do it for half or a full season, have no recourse to pull the player back during the loan period and the 'loaning' club take the 'loanee' on as an employee, where he qualifies for all the benefits of employment, so I don't think your point is valid.
     
  20. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    The point was in respect of a lower club gaining a player who is significantly better that the average of that division... (plus every football match is a competition)

    a very valid point