Entertainment contests - what do YOU the players want?

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by peterg, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. peterg

    peterg Member

    It would appear that the `entertainment' contest is going from strength to strength, especially in the lower sections. My question to you players and M.D's is: "are you happy with the format and methods of adjudication at these contests? and/or perhaps more import from my point of view, have you any suggestions for improvement on what is being offered"?

    I have organised the Brass in Ripon event for the past 10 years and all who come and compete seem very happy with everything. However, I am always willing to listen to bandsmen and spectators alike and any suggestions made for possibly improving things either for bands or spectators are always taken seriously. Some have been put into place, some were physically impossible to do and one too expensive but we always listen.

    Ripon is a quite a simple format:

    20 minute timed programme - first note to last including applause in between items but not before of after with penalties for going over time.

    March & hymn to be included but everything else up to the bands. Play what music you want including self penned/unpublished stuff providing the adjudicator has a score to look at. Soloist prize but not compulsory to put one up.

    Music adjudicator gives 80% of marks. 2 members of the public give 20% of marks for entertainment/deportment - both marks added to give overall winner - music mark takes precedent if there is a tie.

    Thats it in a nutshell and it all runs, from my point of view, very well. BUT WHAT DO YOU the players think? I am asking this question as a brass band enthusiast who does not and has never played in a brass band. Running an event like this can be very satisfying especially when everything goes well and everyone mucks in and helps each other out which is what we do at Ripon.

    To answer one question which has been asked many times before. We restrict the entry to 3rd, 4th and unreg. bands because to run the same event for the higher sect. bands would need a cash injection for the higher prize money which they would expect and we can't afford it. (unless someone has 2k going spare?)

    I look forward to your comments.

  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Why make march & hymn compulsory? On average that's 7-8 minutes out of the 20 gone straight away (doesn't leave much for the entertainment). By all means have a prize for the best march and best hymn, but don't force bands into playing them if they'd rather do something else.

    Oh, and if he's not already, sit the adjudicator on the open...
  3. peterg

    peterg Member

    The march and hymn were compulsory when the contest was started with trophies for each when i took it over - point taken, we'll look at it.

    The adjudicators have always has been in the open.

    Thanks for your thoughts

  4. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    I agree with Bayerd - 20 minutes from first note to last doesn't add up to much more than 15 minutes of music, once you allow for applause, pauses between items and/or MD/compéres speaking.

    If there are special awards for marches and hymn tunes, all well and good - but perhaps leave it up to bands to decide whether they want to go for these by putting something into their programmes?

    As it is an entertainments contest, do you have a separate special award for entertainment/presentation value? Some contests I've conducted at have not only had this, but also a separate adjudicator - one each dedicated to assessing the musical and entertainments aspects of each band's performance.
  5. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I have always found that 20 minutes is a very difficult time limit to organise an entertainments programme, especially if you have to include a hymn tune and march.

    May I suggest that the time limit is extended to 25-30 minutes. I'm sure this would help MD's in their planning process, maybe entice other bands to enter and also give the audience extra value for money.

  6. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Arguably a 20-minute programme limit (but perhaps, as already mentioned, allowing bands to opt out of the march and/or hymn-tune - perhaps being allowed to play one or t'other?) encourages bands and MDs to concentrate on a concise programme of higher quality.

    With 20 minutes on stage, the time it takes for each band to set up and get on ready to play, and get their gear off the stage afterwards, still means that at most contests of this kind you're still limited to only two bands an hour - maybe five in two hours - which is pretty slow. The half-hour programmes (IIRC) at Brass In Concert are of course an exception - but could many bands really fill 30 minutes with music making of a quality equivalent to their section?
  7. blue juice

    blue juice Member

    Hardraw Scar contest is 22 minutes and it's amazing how much difference an extra 2 minutes makes. I'd encourage an extension to 25 minutes. Ripon has always been a great contest to do and been run very well, except for one year when points were added up wrong and the wrong winners were announced, and having the band room so close gives a really good warm up space.
  8. peterg

    peterg Member

    A quick reply to points that have been made - and many thanks for them, keep them coming, its the only way we learn what you want?

    March & Hymn compulsory or not? we'll take this on board and you may find its optional in future.

    We have a trophy for the best `entertainment' programme. also one for the highest placed 4th sect/unreg. band not in th first three places. (to try and spread the prizes around)

    As you will see in my original post, we have one adjudicator for the music (open) and two for the entertainment who make a joint decision.

    The question of time is a tricky one as some bands play for 15 minutes and some try and sqeeze as much in as possible. most times are in the 18 - 19 minute bracket. You can of course have your programme announced before you start to play thus not taking any time from your max 20 min. performance time. We timetable the contest to run at 30 mins per band which we can just do nicely, thanks to the bands doing their bit to help. This still means a contest running for 6 hours plus the bits at the end plus time before and afterwards in setting up and taking down, another 2 hours at least. A long day for some before we can get our hands on some amber nectar and relax a bit.

  9. PlayerPete

    PlayerPete Member

    My question about entertainment contests is to do with the content. What is a good programme to play - especially for 3rd and 4th section bands?

    What is entertaining? I have never really got to grips with what is being looked for.

    In a 20 minute programme I would look for a hymn, march and solo (partly because it is expected and partly because that is what I want to hear) I would also expect a finishing item and some sort of entertainment. It is so easy for Brass Bands to sit still and play music - I want something else as well.

    Do you play a well known hymn that the public will know, or perhaps an inventive arrangement of a less well known tune? Do you play a Contest March, or a well known march like Liberty Bell that the public will recognise, or do you play a march like Star Lake? Do you play a solo that will show off your player but is "too technical" to be enjoyed by the public, or something lighter?

    I have always believed that if a band tries to be entertaining by doing something other than just sitting and playing - they should be rewarded for it, but I have never really seen this happen. Sometimes it is done half heartedly or even badly, but I feel should still be rewarded for effort.

    What are your feelings? Have you any good experiences or recommendations?
  10. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    I agree with some of the earlier comments regarding the compulsory inclusion of hymn, march, solo - that in a 20 minute programme you have very little scope to put together a coherent and entertaining programme with such a rule. We really need to free a few boundaries.

    Last year we put together an entertainments programme which was for 25 minutes with no restrictions we then entered a 2nd contest with the requirement for a hymn and a march and 20 minutes length. It was much harder to get the right music for this event.

    I sat through all 10 entertainments at Butlins on Sunday and can recall one hymn (Eventide) and a few bands put in marches. At the point when the march came out it felt as though it had been put there as a filler - yep B&R and Richard Evans pull it off every time but its not for every band.
  11. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I personally don't think hymn tunes work very well in short ents programmes, and marches work best when they're part of a cohesive programme rather than thrown in for the sake of it. I would also much rather see a band put in little or no extra "entertainment" but play to a really high standard than sit through a programme with lots of gimmicks and extras at the expense of musical quality... but maybe thats just me!

    There's lots of 'who played what' posts in the threads for contests like Crawley and Wychavon on here if you have a search, they include all 4 sections and give a pretty good indication of what's worked well (or not!) for different bands.
  12. damarocto

    damarocto Member

    20 min is not long enough for an entertainments contest!!! yes you can anounce all your program before you play but surely a skilled narrator between pieces adds to the overall effect and entertainment. I like the fact that entertainment is judged by someone other than the adjudicator unlike the ridiculas situation at wychavon where entertainment counts for absolutely nothing. 25mins is about right. I think that playing a march a solo and a good "reflective" piece is good but then how do you fit in a top opener a novilty item and a finisher?? I suppose I would lose the march!!! I sat through 9 performances on sunday and I thought that the flowers program ticked all the boxes for an entertainments contest. It would be great if your contest would allow as much time for performances as Butlins but I realise that that would be out of the question!
  13. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I think 20 mins is fine, maybe penalty points starting at 21 mins, you can get plenty of variation in to that. we once squeezed 7 pieces in 20.49 (close that one) and that's with speedy compereing too!

    I agree with the free choice but prizes to encourage bands to play hymns, marches etc. . .
  14. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Along those lines...I think having prizes for best slow melody (rather than hymn) and best march...but not making either required is the way to go.
  15. blue juice

    blue juice Member

    Slow melody could then also incorporate a solo as well. Maybe a prize for best choreography in a piece would encourage bands to do at least one piece where they move around etc
  16. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    We had 6 dancing girls in the finale of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld (Cancan)

  17. euph77

    euph77 Member

    Now that's "Entertainment"!

  18. peterg

    peterg Member

    Lots of good ideas from you all, seems the optional inclusion of the Hymn. march & soloist is the way to go.

    Player pete brought up a very good point regarding the content and what is `entertaining' and to who?

    Without opening a can of worms, can i ask those of you who do enter entertainment contests `who do you aim your programme at'? Is it, fellow players and your band followers or is it to the general public in the audience. I appreciate that members of the general puiblic who attend these events will have some interest in brass bands anyway.

    And a second maybe controversial question is: who would you get to adjudicate the entertainment aspect of the performance. Would it be players/ MDs from bands not involved in the contest or would it be local dignatories/persons who have an interest in bands but are not players etc.

    In the past i have found that players who have done this task for me are more interested in missed and split notes etc and make many comments on this and not necessarily what they are supposed to be looking at. i.e. the `entertainment' or otherwise, of the performance.

    We employ a well respected music adjudicator to comment on the way the music is played.

  19. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I think it's difficult to know who to ask to adjudicate, I think who ever does it should have some musical knowledge but needs to focus on set attributes, Maybe give whoever does the job a set of criteria (and the bands in advance too!) say . .

    Program Variety (not personal choice but a well planned balanced program, even if you dont' like it is worthy of points, as has been said it's tough to get a good balance in 20 mins).

    Presentation (including how well any chosen choreography is done, walking on, bowing etc)

    Cheerfulness? (amazing how many bands don't look very happy!)

    Conductor/Compere (test out the man in the middle, is he informative/funny/confused/smiley etc)

    any more to add to this list people? how would judge who does best?

    I aim my program at the adjudicator, we go to win. He's there to judge a entertainment contest therefore if we do it right, and so does he, then the audience see the best band on the day win! Its sometimes when you go to an entertainment contest and the judge has been told on what criteria to work on, and it doesn't include all aspects of an entertainment contest!
  20. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    what about a 'new composition' prize?

    anything that encourages new pieces for brass band has to be good

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