Every extending band size

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brassfanatic, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. brassfanatic

    brassfanatic Member

    What does one do with a band that is becoming ever large?

    We're talking in the area of 35 players: e.g. 4 basses, 7 trombones, 3 euphs, 5 horns, 2 flugels, 1 soprano and about 14 cornets.

    Given that we do not compete, we generally don't (or can't?) say no to new recruits.

    There are different levels of experience and playing, so some are quite decent and others are, well, just plain awful (very elementary). It's frustrating for those of us who are really keen players. The overall result is a very poor balance, tuning problems, wrong notes and poor tone/dynamics/intonation/articulation.

    I thought of splitting it into a Junior and Senior - but many are older players and asking them to change to a different band would come across rude and cause (political) problems, people leaving/arguments.

  2. Clyde Slider

    Clyde Slider Member

    Hmmm, several points here I would think! First - it's a good problem to have in some ways, although if some of your players access tMP and recognise the band in question, maybe they might consider leaving anyway?
    If you don't contest, presumably you are doing it for pleasure? Therefore, the focus surely should be on helping the weaker players to improve. The so called "keen" players (do you mean "better"?) may not be as enthusiastic as the others - an enthusiastic learner is worth just as much, if not more, to a band than an established, condescending one. Enjoy and make the most of your success in attracting players of whatever standard, and try to improve as a team! Good luck to all of you!
  3. pbirch

    pbirch Member

    Join the Salvation Army, your ensemble sounds about right (you'll need to find 4 baritones though) :)
  4. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    what a lovely problem to have!

    I'm not sure what difference contesting/non-contesting makes to numbers - isn't that just down to your band's membership policy? I know of several contesting bands who run with extra players and just select who plays or not when contest rules dictate a limit. In general, extra players means less hassle with needing deps and improvement where people have a bit of competition for their seats/parts of choice - both good things imho.

    A real difference in standards around the band can cause issues, especially when a significant proportion of the band are consistently playing music they feel is either too hard or not challenging enough. A couple of ways to address that could be to run a seperate rehearsal for a training (not junior!) band that focus more on development and/or an ensemble for the 'keener' players to tackle more difficult stuff?
  5. yoda

    yoda Member

    Id have some ensemble rehearsal too. 4's 5's 6's and 10 piece. Keep the lot of them together half of the time, but split up and work in smaller groups. This would enable you to select music (and personnel) as appropriate to the group at hand and encourage development in the basics of good tuning and ensemble playing, which will only enhance the full band anyway. You will also be able to offer a wider variety of service to your local community too when they are booking you for gigs.

    Good luck with it, and as Alex says, what a wonderful problem to have :)
  6. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    We have a similar sized band

    My only advise is to enjoy it, consider why youre band is so popular? Focus on the positives of why folks like to come to the band, we must be doing something right!

    I often wonder how to keep everyone happy all the time, but in the end I must be as the numbers keep growing
    Good Luck

  7. David Pegram

    David Pegram Member

    I think it depends on what the asperations of the band are.Most large bands in my experience tend to suffer because of the numbers (tuning and intonation),because of the different levels of ability.
    If they will go for it split to main and a training band.
  8. Al

    Al Member

    It's time for an EGM or similar to find a direction.

    Maybe asking for suggestions as you have on an internet forum, could end up in a very much smaller band than you bargained for.
  9. boourns

    boourns Member

    I'm sure we all do it for pleasure, whether we contest or not ;) And with the best will in the world, if there is a gulf in ability between a significant portion of the band then it's going to stop being pleasurable pretty quickly for one side of the divide (and possibly both). The band will likely end up playing music that is either considerably too hard for some or too easy for others, which after a while is pretty soul destroying either way. And it's not condescending to want to be able to make music that is in tune, together, with the right notes/rhythm etc.

    I would suggest splitting off a 'B' band for some of the lesser players, with some players playing in both.
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Is there another band nearby that is struggling for players? If so, maybe you could combine with them to form an A and a B band between you?
  11. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    The issue for me is surely if you have a large band you are doing something right to attract everyone in the first place, by creating two bands etc you risk what you have acheived in the first place by some members getting upset. Why do that unless that is what you want?

    I guess if some members complain about the standard either way the choice is with them as to whether they stay.

    If everyone stays take pride in the fact in what you have acheived. I do

    Those who say that with a big non contesting band you can't be any good or play decent music properly perhaps are a tad jealous

  12. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    has anyone actually said that?
    I thought most of us had just offered suggestions in answer to the OP's question.... silly me. :rolleyes:
  13. bassendworld

    bassendworld Member

    I'm dissapointed in you Alex - I thought you had extensive knowledge of all tmp posts;) - I seem to recall the Contest v Non Contest debate raising its head several times on this very subject.

    David P earlier post makes a valid point that larger numbers can have an effect on Tuning / Intonation, but that doesn't mean its bad or unpalatable to the ordinary non contesting listener which seems relevant for this band.

    I stand by what I said that making changes to your band in terms of numbers needs very careful consideration.
    If the only way you think you can improve the standard of your band is to reduce numbers you have to accept the risk that brings.
  14. tgfoxley

    tgfoxley Member

    Many bands, especially in lower sections, struggle to get 25 players (+percussion) for a concert, as often fewer players can make gigs than come to rehearsals. Why not rehearse your whole (large) band and then just take 25 for each concert? Swap it around a bit, give everyone a break every few concerts. You could probably even take on more concerts (if available) by doing this.

    And you could milk it around Christmas - how many groups of players could you send out carolling in different locations?! :tup
  15. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I think this approach, or dividing into a training band and a 'senior' band may well have a positive outcome in the long term.

    I've seen it work before, where a burgeoining youth/training section feeds players on. I started in YBS Junior band, which began it's days as Hammonds Hawley 'B' band (And later became YBS community Brass). Essentially we were a feeder section for what was then YBS Concert brass, (Formerley Hammonds Hawley and latterly City of Bradford band) and several of my colleagues moved from the one to the other as their abilities increased. The advantage we had was that there was already a core of older players (dare I say, some in the twilight of their playing days) who could keep the 'junior' band going in the periods where there were few young players coming through, so the engagement diary stayed full.

    A band who have this example in practice very successfully at present are Skelmanthorpe, whom I have some association with through writing duties and old friendships. At the top, there is the senior band, who are generally one of the top two at the yorkshire area if one discounts the british open qualified bands, and have filled Huddersfield town hall on several occasions. Then there is the b band, who - make no mistake - are a very fine contest and concert outfit in their own right and have a very busy diary. I've regularly heard them give a strong account of themselves in both guises. Then there is the 'nippers' band - who are both numerous and enthusiastic - focussing primarily on enjoyment and making music together as a team.

    And yes, there are players in the seniors who started in the nippers!

    By splitting your cohort, If you can persuade some of your older players to act as mentors whilst maintaining an ensemble with a level they are happy with, you may be able to bolster your 'senior' band and give more one-to-one tuition to your less experienced players at the same time. Whether a band chooses to contest or not, you can certainly raise playing standards by ensuring everyone has an available level to play at where their abilities are neither held back, nor overstretched. Plus your training-level players then get to play more interesting stuff because they're not constantly sat parping away on bottom chair.

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