Engagements - High Standards Maintained?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Charmed, Jul 31, 2006.


Should bands maintain their usual standard?

  1. Maintain standard no matter the cost of deps

    5 vote(s)
  2. Maintain standard only if cost of deps affordable

    17 vote(s)
  3. No deps - no matter the engagement

    0 vote(s)
  1. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Whilst reading through the comments on the thread 'People Ripping Bands Off', I was going to ask a question but then decided my question warranted a 'thread on it's own'.

    We have had a few debates over the years about what standard of band should we put out when deps are required. Of course, everytime you perform you want the band to maintain it' high standard, but when you balance the cost of deps to the engagement fee, should you accept putting out a 'sub-standard' band in order to generate income, or should you maintain your high standard no matter what the cost? About a year ago, it was proposed that for 'some' engagements we could perhaps manage without a full band if the cost of deps would 'eat' into most of the income. Sounds reasonable, however, for 'some' this can be a stressful situation. What programme do you deliver if you haven't got your usual players/full band? If the band does not play to it's usual standard, will this affect future, potential engagements?

    This is a very difficult question, I believe, especially for bands that do struggle financially. Of course, you want to sound the best you can on any engagement, but you also have the problem of putting out a band for little or no income.

    I thought a poll might be interesting, as I know quite a few of you do not voice your opinions but do take part in polls. But I would appreciate some comments too.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2006
  2. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    I voted "Maintain standard only if cost of deps affordable " and that was what we did this weekend; at Killamarsh we had a job Saturday and Sunday and we had 13 and 11 player missing (we have 33 members) so we had to get in 5 deps on Saturday 4 deps on Sunday. One was an ex-principal cornet player who moved to Malaysia some years ago - we didn't offer him travel expenses though.

    The playing standard was good save for a few obvious (to us) dep errors but we secured a repeat booking next year for one job and enquiries for 2 more at the performance on Saturday. In the past we have avoided taking bookings in August however this year we have taken on five which means that we will have players missing at every job.

    However we had a similar situation in July with players missing so we thought we might as well take the jobs on and fill in the gaps with deps - it's probably a little easier to find deps as there are not so many clashes with other bands engagements this month. It also means we've probably added £1,000.00 to this years income less dep fees which are usually paid in return dep players.

    It would be nice to play some more challenging music however we have to be realistic and choose a summer programme that takes account of the extra dep players we will have; the audience still appreciates the selection we make and the fact that we have the repeat bookings backs this up.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2006
  3. I recently opened this subject when should you take a gig on, i recently depped for a band got there to find a band of 13 , 6 depps which apparrently lifted the standard, best the band had played for awhile!!!!! The public do not know or care how many, as long as it presentable , i think.

    IYOUNG Member

    Not sure I can agree with that, we take the view that you should treat your audience with up most respect and never put out an understrength band.

    Careful planning of your engagements should enable the number of deps to be limited.

    Of course situations occur when deps are required and we have a select list of deps who we choose, unless those deps are known to me as MD we do not employ them.

    Maintaining standards both for your audience and yourselves in my book is absolutely paramount.
  5. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    The standard/quality of playing should never drop. However, the level of difficulty of the music should be adjusted to suit deps. There is no point in trying to play something that deps may be sight reading, or who have not been able to attend rehearsal.
    Better be safe than sorry.
    Audience will appreciate any music, played well. However, difficult music played badly rarely goes unnoticed!!
  6. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I always think you should put out the best band you can, ideally with your own players, or if not with the best deps you can find. You never know who is listening!!!

    Obviously problems arise at this time of year with holidays etc, but generally the dodgy times are known (bank holidays and the like) and if an enquiry comes in then you can always check the availablity of your players. If the number of people missing mean that you would have to spend too much getting decent deps in then I would rather not do the job at all.

    Personally speaking I would be very uneasy with a deliberate policy to put out a "B" band at any job. To me it seems a bit unfair on those players who are there, and in the worst case, could do some damage to your reputation as a concert band.
  7. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    But if you follow the above two threads to a logical conclusion you'd end up cancelling the job because you couldn't achieve the standard of performance you'd set yourself. Having taken on jobs for bands that cancelled at short-notice and can guarantee that the band that didn't turn out would suffer more as a result that a band that did and let the stands slip.

    IYOUNG Member

    How do other bands work regarding accepting engagements?

    Do you discuss acceptance with your band members before or after acceptance?
  9. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah thats pretty much what I mean. Wigston have a hard-fought reputation of being a good band to see and book for a concert. I would hate to damage all those years of effort our MD and players have put in, by taking on a summer of duff concerts. We have turned jobs down this year due to having too many players missing on the date suggested. In a couple of instances the organiser has re-booked us on a different date, other times they have gone elsewhere.

    I fully agree with this though - once a job is booked, its booked no question. It would be massively damaging to cancel a job at the last minute, for almost any reason, let alone a lack of players. So on these odd occasions its a case of putting out the best band you can. I guess its also time to cut you cloth to suit, and talior the music you play to the band you have. Its not ideal, but these days I guess there is a likelihood of the odd rogue-job creeping in during the year, but my point was that I would be very uneasy with Wigston deliberately putting out a band with a few empty seats or of players of a "lesser" ability.
  10. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    In most cases, we are presented with a list of dates which have already been arranged. If anything comes up at short notice, however, or at a time when there are likely to be a number away, the BM will usually ask for a rough idea of numbers before we commit ourselves. We have just received an updated list of engagements running through to 2008.
  11. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    It's hard enough to find out who's going to be at a job next month let alone bookings for the coming year. We are currently being asked to confirm repeat bookings for engagements next year. So sure we take on a level of bookings that I know the "band" as a whole would not consider to be excessive. We ask every year at the AGM if they thought we'd done enough or not enough jobs in the previous year - generally we get both answers i.e half the band think its too many and half think it's not enough so that's just about right. Killamarsh are a non-contesting band and checking our diary we will have done 36 performances by the end of the year not counting any extra that come in over Christmas.
  12. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    A similar scenario here at Marlow Band we have a core of 7/8 jobs that band members know will be on a similar date each year and these we accept when asked to appear.

    After that is very much a case of putting things to the band members, however knowing your band members thoughts is also of upmost importance.

    I have seen so many times band cottees insisting a job must be done as the cttee has decided it will be

    50% of a band later the cttee is up in arms.

    A cttee represents its members doews it not?
  13. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I think you have to weigh up the level of prestige of the job in question.

    Fete type jobs where the audience is in moton and not a captured audience I tink you can get away with playing an under strength band

    Bandstand or festival type jobs where the audience in the main are static then some investment in deps is acceptable

    Concert or stage type jobs I think you need to seriously consider deps

    These three examples all have 3 things in common that I haven't mentioned and that is

    1. Yes you do need to maintain your accepted level of performance as these are all possible future employers of the band and a good impression what ever the job needs to be given

    2. To maintain the a level of performance in a band under whatever circumstances you need to adapt an apprpiate programme of music for the event and for the band who will have to play it. That way you can still sound good even if the nubers arround the stand are short or made up of the relevent deps used

    3. This may sound really sad but the most important thing is to just enjoy it. If you appear to be enjoying the job you are playing at and the audienec see that you are then they will more often than not remember it for being enjoyble to listen to rather than remembering any of the bad bits ( I hope that makes sense)
  14. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Agreed that might be the reaction but people do have holidays and some people have to take them in the summer period (teachers, parents, school holidays etc) so it just has to be accepted and managed as best you can (Ginger's post above just about covers that).

    So not much point in committee members kicking off. Fact of life I'm afraid and the only other alternative would be not to take any jobs during the summer period - but then why do we join a band? For most people it's the public performance which represents the final outcome of all those rehearsals that we go to every week (excluding the contest only type players here of course)
  15. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    Agreed to great extent and hence my comments about sensible engagements in the busy periods.

    We have worked very hard at working together with our members and understanding their individual situations.

    I find this has a two way effect in that, if as a band accept members circumstances, those members try that little bit harder for the band.

    If bands try and dictate too much in inveriably ends in dissapointment for the band.

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