Disappearing Instruments!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by woolly, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. woolly

    woolly Member

    Is it just us..... or do other bands suffer from this?

    Last year when I took over from the previous MD I checked the records which seemed pretty exentsive except that two instruments were no where to be seen.

    What was worse neither the former MD nor any of the remaining players had any idea who might have them. What is even more embarrassing is that the band concerned is the Cheshire Police band.

    I suspect that the instruments will have been "borrowed" years before by former members of the band and never returned. I have no doubt that the missing instruments may still be in circulation, possibly locally.

    I know sometimes players are not on the best of terms when leaving bands, and often it is difficult for bands to recoverband property,but at what point does a players obstanance become theft? Certainly whatever the circumstances they have no right to retain band instruments indefinitely.

    I have discovered how hard it is (even with signing things in and out) to keep tabs on all equipment but what ever our past shortcomings the real villains of the piece are still those individuals who have decided to disappear into the banding sunset with instruments that do not, and never will, belong to them.

    For the record our two "wandering" intruments are:

    Bach Stradivarius Flugel Horn serial number 242134
    Besson Sovereign Bb Cornet serial number 799923

    For our part we intend to write to all local bands (Cheshire/Staffs area) many who have ex members from the band to see if they can jog anyones memories.

    Just us or is this a bigger issue in bands?
  2. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    This has been a huge issue in bands that I've been involved with. As instruments represent a very large investment, one would think that people would be more careful about lending them out and getting them back.

    It's not just instruments - it's any property that's owned by the band should be rather jealously guarded. Concert attire and music are also expensive to obtain and replace in the aggregate.

    Here are some things to do:

    1. Keep written records of all band property.

    2. Limit access to storage areas.

    3. Establish a "check-out" policy and strictly enforce it. Every time something comes out of storage or goes into storage, it should be recorded (I like to keep a book in the storage area), even if it's only removed to be used for rehearsal and then put back immediately. You must establish a habit pattern that all movements of instruments to and from storage are recorded, no exceptions. This includes when things are removed from the bandroom to be transported for a performance - this is a prime time for things to be lost.

    4. Require a monetary deposit when lending equipment. People are much more likely to return something if they have some amount of money involved.

    5. Consider the legal ramifications of lending equipment. For example, in many states here in the US, you can't prosecute someone for theft unless it is clearly stated that you expect them to return the equipment - and verbal statements may not be enough to establish proof. Also check any insurance you have on your instruments - make sure that you will be covered if the instrument will be covered if it is lost, stolen or damaged while not in the actual control of the owner.

    6. Before lending out instruments, document their condition with photographs, so that you can easily prove if any damage occurred while the instrument was not in your control.
  3. Tubby

    Tubby Member

    Every year our band do an inventry and we have to sign the ledger to say we have that instrument, they say it's just for insurance purposes.
  4. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    That sounds highly suspicious!

    But seriously, I've seen it in bands before, where no record was kept of instruments given out. Cornets are so small and there are so many that it's easy to forget what was given out and to whom. Someone once gave out a cornet to a new junior band member who promptly moved to England (from Scotland) the next day, disappearing never to be contactable agian... Needless to say, lessons were learned and policies were changed.

    I think there was even a list on this forum at some point of lost/stolen instruments so that people could check they weren't purchasing stolen property from ebay and the likes.
  5. Aurora771

    Aurora771 Member

    Your band isn't alone in the 'disappearing' instrument mystery. My band is in the process of tracking down a baritone and cornet that have completely vanished. The records are a bit patchy and we've had to rely on current members memories. No such luck at the moment, but we'll keep at it.

    Anyway, Hope you find the instruments you're looking for!
  6. Lewis Chris

    Lewis Chris Member

    One of the local bands here in Colchester had a touch of pure luck. Having had 2 instruments stolen about 16 years ago, they had a phone call a few months back from the police. They'd raided a house and in the shed at the bottom of the garden.....2 still very shiny and almost perfect horns. A little bit of oil and they were like new again.

    How did they know they were that bands instruments? They had the name of the band and a telephone number inside the case. Thankfully the secretary is still living in the same house.
  7. jonesbp

    jonesbp Member

    Not the Same house where the instruments were found I hope?
  8. Lewis Chris

    Lewis Chris Member

    I knew there was something dodgy about him :eek::oops::biggrin:
  9. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    I can't say if we have the same problem with instruments (although we are doing a bit of a stock take at the moment and there are a large number of instuments that we can't find on the list, and a large number of intruments that we do have that AREN't on the list...very bad record keeping) but I do know that we have that issue with jackets.

    We used to have 3 full sets of band jackets, and now we've got about 8 spare ones.....nearly two whole sets have disapeared.

    I know so many people that have a 'collection' of band jackets just to show who they played for over the years. Surely a photo would suffice?!

    Our jackets cost over £200 each...we can't afford to have any Tom, Dick or Harry keeping them in their wardrobe just because they want to show their Grandchildren that they once were good enough to play for Cambrne Town Band!!
  10. Mad BLC

    Mad BLC New Member

    No your not alone. I have come across various methods of inventory keeping in bands over the years. Some methodically organised and in one situation non existent and not even a nominated person as property master or librarian. The latter being another contentious issue. Music is often not treated as a bands asset. We all know how much the cost of full set of band parts can be. How many bands 'lend' out a set and never see it again. The loss of an instrument can potentially be recovered from insurance if an appropriate policy exists that supports a claim but band parts are not treated with the same appreciation of value. I agree with an earlier thread. Secure accomodation, accurate record keeping and a restriction on who has keys. The latter perhaps the tricky part!!!!
  11. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    And there still is. An entire forum, actually - you can find it here: http://www.themouthpiece.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=52
  12. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    There was a discussion about this on Radio 4 some time back - on their legal phone-in show (can't remember the name). Sadly, there is a very grey area when it comes to bands lending instruments out and legally they can only ask for them back - the borrower is not obliged to give it back if they don't want to.
  13. markh

    markh Member

    A funny story loosely related to this topic (the band concerned will not be named). Many years ago (maybe 25?) I bought a euphonium from a well known retailer. Then a couple of days later we were contacted by the police.

    It seems that a euph player was having an affair with the band secretary. When his wife found out she went out and sold the band euphonium and cut up the uniform to get her revenge.

    Just for the record though, we were not obliged to return the euph because we had paid for it and it had come from legitimate dealer
  14. bbg

    bbg Member

    Following on from Jess's post re band jackets - due to a fair turnover of personnel (university / work moves mainly) with several Youth Band players "stepping up", jackets for everyone is a hot topic right now.......I understand that one jacket was "accepted" back by our sec a week or two back, from a player who had left the band - in 2000.
  15. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I think for that reason so many bands are going for a more contemporary look, either playing in all black or dinner jackets/suits. At least most people have got, or can get a black jacket, so it prevents the usual problem of getting jackets back from old players and sorting out deps. Also, being a more portly gentleman, I have first hand experience of depping for a band who don't have a big enough jacket to fit me.

    And if it isn't jackets, it's ties! How many ties does a band get through? Bet it's hundreds!
  16. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    one of our (brand new) ties turned up on Ebay a few months ago, being flogged in America!
  17. catherine_S

    catherine_S Member

    We have an annual inventory which is always a time of great stress and searching. Last year we had a real to-do about a "missing" (extremely elderly) euphonium. I was asked whether I had given out the second Boosey (not "& Hawkes"!!) euph to any learner. I pointed out very firmly that we only ever (at least in thelast 20 years) had one. "Oh no, there are two and these are their numbers" and quoted them!

    I repaired to the band room to have a look. You all probably know that Boosey's instruments of the 1890s have separate numbers for instrument and valve assembly - we didn't! I think there is now only one Boosey euph on the list!

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