Design Your Own National Contest

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by boourns, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. boourns

    boourns Member

    If you were in a position to set up your own national brass band competition, what would it look like?

    There has been talk of setting up a new competition to rival/replace the existing 'Nationals', so I thought it would be interesting to open up a discussion on what people would like to see, should this ever happen.

    Let me say from the outset that this is not another anti-Kapitol thread, so please don't turn it into one. Neither is it the start of some grand plan for brass band domination. It is merely a hypothetical exercise to consider new ideas and/or refine existing ones. If I were a manager I'd probably call it a brainstorming session, so lets have some blue sky thinking people!

    I've listed some possible starting points for discussion below, in no particular order of priority, but please don't feel you have to be constrained by these...


    How would the competition be structured, for example would you use the traditional regional heats plus finals model? How would you split the country regionally? Would you include the other home nations, and if so how would you accommodate them given they will probably want to maintain their existing national competitions?

    Where and When

    Where in the country would you hold each part of your competition, and when would you fit it into the banding calendar?


    Who would you get to adjudicate? How many would you use? Would the same merry band of adjudicators be used at each 'regional', should that be your model? Do you prefer open or closed adjudication? Written or spoken remarks?


    What music would you use to test the bands? Who would decide? Set piece or own choice? Or both?


    Who would organise the contests, do the stewarding etc? Do you like the idea of a national body, devolved regional councils, commercial entities etc? How would you liaise with the existing committees, associations and organisations, if at all?


    How would you fund your competition, e.g. entry fees, grants, sponsors, subscriptions? What do you think it would cost?


    What system would you use for national gradings, and how would participation in each phase of your competition affect a band's grading, and over what period? Would you keep the existing sections, and if not how would you split the bands into new ones?


    What is your preferred model and how would you implement it? Would you pre-draw your contest(s)?

    etc etc

    As I said, these headings are intended as guides rather than restraints. Please feel free to add your own, or focus on just one or two, or explore entirely new avenues - this thread is intended only to stimulate discussion. It is obviously an incredibly wide ranging topic and may prove difficult to keep on track, but please try. And please please please don't let it get bogged down in negativity about the existing 'regime' and their competition.

    We are forever being accused of incessant whinging and pointless waffling, so instead let us do something positive. There are some very intelligent and highly competent people on this forum, so why not try to use it as a force for good?

    I obviously have some ideas of my own, but for now it's over to you...
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  2. Sonorous

    Sonorous New Member

    I think the only major change i would make from where it is now is clearly define amateur. Would have to put work into deciding where that line is drawn (no one gets paid? Only md gets paid? Income over £##? Etc etc).

    once this was defined I'd then emphasise the difference through the structure of the contest.

    the amateur bands have the nationals as they currently are (including regionals, registration etc). Although potentially there will be given more emphasis on the development aspect of competing (eg at 4th section there is clearly defined criteria for adjudicating, very prescriptive test piece selection, a thorough debate around how registration regulations may be altered to give the best environment for bands to prosper etc)

    and the non amateur becomes the replacement for the championship final. Potentially no regionals, and the rules completely relaxed to reflect the status of the bands and the nature of how music should be ultimately be judged.

    the rules and structure for the amateur bands contests will potentially evolve over time to reflect the successful and appropriate aspects of the , league.

    Contesting will then actually provide a framework for true musical development then (at all levels).
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  3. midlandman

    midlandman Member

    Love this topic well done.
    My idea, to add to the pot, would be to have more than one contest to qualify for the finals. I know that this would be complex but more of a league over the contesting season would be good for those of us who having not done well at a contest would like another go.
    Perhaps it would create smaller 'areas' causing less qualifiers per area but could have many benefits.
  4. mattthebass

    mattthebass Member

    I think that the present formation is probably the best you could come up with as regards Regionals and then Nationals, however the idea of accumlative point scoring over three over four contests in the year is very interesting, but one problem that springs to mind quickly is the use of borrowed players, not bands bring top class players in, more bands that perhaps don't have a full compliment winning over those that do. But again that could be good for those bands in attracting players full-time to their ranks? Many points to be discussed with a league all with pro's and con's.

    I think you'd struggle to change the timing of the nationals, Summer would be difficult due to holidays, spring time comes with the problems of running up to Christmas commitments and holidays again over the Christmas period.

    As I've said before I'm a fan of Registration cards, but this is probably more from the researchers point of view than perhaps anything else, but I do believe it is important to maintain a level playing field.

    My main point would be to reduce the cost of attending the nationals for bands.

    Firstly move to somewhere like Blackpool (yep I know its on the doorstep for me, but there is a good reason!), it has a venue that could accomodate all bands in one weekend, ok maybe not the best halls in the world but was good enough for the Miners contest and the North West Area for years, more hotels of every standard than any 'in-land' venue allowing bands on a budget to stay very cheaply. A little fairer for Scottish bands.

    Moving to Blackpool or a similiar place would drastically reduce costs. RAH cost £30k to hire for the day, Chelt I don't know but most likely around £10k, Blackpool is £10K a day, so even if you move to a two day event you've just halved probably your biggest cost.

    Secondly remove the prize money and but this back into making entry free or very reduced, as lets face it the prize money these days won't put a band back on its feet after the expensive of the weekend and this would also spread the wealth to all rather than the lucky few.

    Making the Nationals more affordable will I think have a knock-on affects, Bandspersons are more likely to bring family if it's cheaper, they spend, kids might be more likely to take up an instrument if they're involved, more audiences if family come along and should, perhaps make the nationals self funding in an ideal world?
  5. boourns

    boourns Member

    OK, this is my totally uncosted contest wish list. When I get more time I might put a little more thought into if any of these are actually feasible :)

    Although I like the idea of more than one grading contest, I can't see how you could fit two full participation national contests plus finals into the calendar. So the format would be pretty much as it is now - regional heats plus final. However there would only be one final, encompassing all sections, and only one band would qualify for the final from the heats.

    The winning bands from each section of each region would qualify to play at the final. The format for the final would be similar to that used by the English Nationals, with the bands expected to play both a set work and an own choice piece. The set works for each section would be new commissions every year, with the own choice pieces chosen from a set list of possibilities.

    The set pieces for the heats would be voted for by the bands, from a list of possibilities. I don't know who would choose the nominated pieces, but perhaps we could look at non-traditional methods, e.g. internet nominations via 4BR, tMP etc.

    Regarding where and when, the existing regional boundaries are probably about as good as they could be, with the possible exception of Wales. If they want to join in they would probably have to split into north and south, or at least alternate the location of the regional heat.

    Each regional heat would be held on separate weekends throughout February and March, with the final (all sections) over maybe two weekends in September or October at a suitable venue, e.g. Bridgewater Hall, Symphony Hall, a London hall etc.

    I would like 5 (yes, five) adjudicators per section. They would judge independently (no conferring), and the best and worst marks for each band would be discounted. The marks would be given in secret, so neither the adjudicators nor bands would know whose marks have been discarded for a particular band.

    They would be in the open (no box!), and give detailed remarks on all aspects of the performance (including the MD) by recording their spoken comments into a dictaphone, with the band playing in the background. They would work to quite specific criteria, for example the 'Mead sheets', but with ample scope for musical discretion.

    The same five adjudicators would judge their allotted section in all regional heats, and the participating bands would be able to elect the entire adjudicating panel from a list of nominees.

    Obviously all of the above would be very expensive, but I see nothing wrong with thinking big. Let's tap into some of the millions being given to other areas of the arts, and design our events to appeal to those who make these decisions, e.g. wholesale commissioning of new and adventurous pieces. Let's also look for sponsors where we wouldn't ordinarily. I know times are hard, but there is certainly money out there.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  6. Posh

    Posh Member

    Allow bands to borrow players. If it was up to me Championship section bands would be allowed 1 borrowed player, but not on a principal chair and they'd have to follow the same rules as the Open (ie a player can only be borrowed by one band in either the Open, Grand Shield, Senior Cup, Senior Trophy). Lower section bands would be allowed 1 player plus the section number they play for (1st section: 2 players; 2nd section: 3 players etc).
  7. Posh

    Posh Member

    As for "blue sky thinking" - I know this one might not go down very well with our friends over the borders, but they're the ones that seem to bring this up the most on this forum. Split Wales into two contests (North Wales & South Wales) and Scotland into two contests (West Scotland & East Scotland) and only have ONE band per section who qualify for the Nationals of Great Britain from each. They'd obviously then not have a true 'National' contest, but it would surely cut down on travel/hotel costs.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013

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