Getting people to listen to brass!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by frisp, Dec 6, 2002.

  1. frisp

    frisp Member

    Is it me or are the only people that listen to brass bands over 55?

    I get the feeling that the brass band audience is full of families of the players and coffin-dodgers. While we all love an audience what can we do to bring banding to a younger audience?

    To give an example my wife, who is 30 and knows nothing about brass bands, was in raptures over Kings of Brass last concert and would now go and watch any brass band concert, especially a good band. She started from supporting me.

    What can we do to bring banding to the nation?

    If the movement is to prosper how do we introduce the new audience (i.e. the people who aren't going to die in the next few months) to it?

    I know I've been a bit glib but I hope you know what I mean (no offence to coffin-dodgers intended) :p
  2. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    In my opinion the movement has to engage the wider pulic more and play the music they want to listen to. This will mean playing more topical music. I know some think it cheesey but Queen's We are the champions, Blue's All Rise and even Beatles stuff goes down much better with almost every audiance than 'old' stuff like Thingumybob or Florentiner March.
    Perhaps brass bands are also too 'up themselves' and insular. Rather than playing selective concerts just to raise money for the next contest they need to get in the community more - even Gasp! doing it for free. Playing to the younger audience is key. Many of you might have played at student 'last night of the proms' concerts they certainly go down well.
    Also colaboration with other music styles, introducing other instruments such as fiddles, electric guitars, keyboards etc. can produce phenomenal music. Y.B.S's Cry of the Celts albumn is a case in point. I have played this to non-banding friends and they did not beleive brass could sound so good. They had the fixed image in their minds of the city park band stand and brass buttoned, epauletted uniforms playing the floral dance. But if we don't show 'em they'll never know.
  3. rutty

    rutty Active Member

    My misses hates brass music, I can't drag her to a concert with wild horses. Perhaps listening to "Jodril Bank" 8 times at Pontins a couple of years ago did it.

    Playing a good mixed program is a good idea. We've got out All Rise, Sex Bomb and stuff, and they always go down well, even if I think that they're a bit pants.

    I used to play with an RAF Voluntary Band and we used to play at Dining In nights with a piper - used be fantastic when we did Highland Cathedral with a single piper. That sort of thing can be very effective at concerts.

    Variety is the key I think.
  4. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I attend many brass band concerts in a year from Championship to Fourth Section and yes, the majority of the audience are all proud owners of a bus pass. But don't forget when these folks were younger the only regular form of musical entertainment that could be seen in every village up and down the country was the local brass band. So these people have enjoyed banding all their lives.
    I am a strong believer that you have to cater not only for the players in the band but for the audiences you are going to have at your engagements. It’s no good playing modern pop tunes to an audience of old age pensioners. I’m sure they would be much more appreciative of a good march or an old tune from their youth. The opposite scenario obviously applies.

    At Wem Band we have organised a small ensemble which regularly arranges visits to local schools (usually just before the end of term - when teachers are looking for alternative entertainment for the kids.) We arrange to visit the school to give a mini concert and to demonstrate the art of Brass and Percussion playing. We mix that with lots of ‘hands on’ activity and generally make the whole concert lots of fun.
    Again we cater for the kid’s age through our repertoire. For example, Bob the Builder for the younger kids and Harry Potter for the older ones. Music they can associate with. This activity also doubles as a recruitment drive for our Youth Band, and we can usually guarantee that we have an average intake of about 10/12 kids after every visit.

    When you have the youngsters on board you also take on brothers, sisters, parents, and grand-parents consequently introducing many generations to the Brass Band movement. After a few weeks tuition, introduce them into one of your concerts, even if it is only to play the simplest of tunes. Whole familes will turn our to see ‘little Billy’ playing in the concert. You then have a mixed range of ages within the audience and if you plan your concert correctly you can cater for all these different generations through a carefully planned programme.

    I am also a firm believer that you have to make music ‘fun’. Again at Wem we use (as many other band’s do) our Christmas Concert to ‘let our hair down’, and regularly introduce ‘out of the ordinary’ pieces to entertain. At last years Christmas Concert I even performed magic tricks - honest! Find out what other instruments your band members play - we once had a percussionist who was an exceptional bass guitar player and have used his talents on many occasions. We have also featured a Saxophonist, Dancers and regularly feature vocalists. Its hard work but extremely rewarding especially when someone who has just attended their first brass band concert congratulates the band saying they didn’t know that brass bands played things like that and proceeds to ask when the next concert is and books tickets!

    The Brass Band movement must cater for all ages and consider very carefully the repertoire it chooses. Yes, the music might be ‘Cheesey’ but the future of your brass band is in securing your audience for future generations to come.

    Well, I’ve rattled on a bit here, so I’ll break off and let you have your say . . .
  5. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    absolutely roger! I agree wholeheartedly. play to the type of audience youve got!, use lots of free advertising via media, joint concerts with kids choirs ensure large varied audiences, or let your training band have a spot.I also usemy solo euph on percussion from time to time!
  6. Highams

    Highams Member

    Bands have to get involved with young people, even if they are not brass players.

    A joint concert with a school choir will bring in parents and brothers & sisters etc. and the standard these days is very very good !

    We have a local Young Musicians Trust and I'm sure there are many all over the country. If you make contact and offer the band's services it could pay great dividends in the end.

    We have even offered to give a young pop group a brass backing !
  7. frisp

    frisp Member

    Great replies all

    I'd first off like to apolgise to anyone over 55, I'd had a few when I posted!

    Although I love the ideas given, what I was asking was how we get people (and I used my wife as an example) who have no experience with banding to come and listen. To my mind it doesn't take a 'huge name' band to be worth listening to-we're all good in our own way.... drunken gripe was no-one hears us-apart from friends, family and the trad audience.

    My guess would be that everyone who reads this post gets a huge amount out of their banding....and puts a fair amount in :lol:

    If banding is to prosper we need to get young people to listen to us. If they did some would love it, some would hate it, but at least we'd gain the ones who loved it. How do we do this?

    I know there's no answer tho'
  8. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I know there's no answer tho'

    I know there's no answer tho'

    Hey frisp, it sounds like you've thrown in the towel and given up already. :cry:

    Come on, be positive. :D The young audiences are not going to come to you unless you can provide them with something they enjoy. You have got to target an age group, chose music to suite and take the music to them.
    It's as simple as that. Nobody has said that this is an easy task, and the rewards are sometimes only small, but keep on working at it.

    There are lots of ways to gain the interest of the youngsters, and we've already had some good feedback and ideas from other members.

    Don't be afraid in making contact with other musical groups, choirs, orchestras and operatic societies. Contacts with these other groups will eventually have mutual advantages.

    Don't be afraid to advertise. Publicity for bands events often leaves much to be desired, yet a phone call to the local radio station or evening paper usually results in some positive assistance, at very little expense. Also local education authorities may be prepared to include band concert details. Support can generally be achieved by some imaginative advertising.

    Again, the reportoire we play to our audiences is another area where we can broaden everyones musical horizons. Bands across the country have extensive music libraries, but all too frequently we only play the 'tip' of a very big iceberg. I bet there are many hidden, as yet unplayed gems in the music cupboards around the country which, besides freshening up your concert performances would more than brighten up rehearsals.

    And finally, don't shy away from inviting other guest ensembles and soloists to perform at your concerts, even the local school recorder group!

    Its not an easy task bringing brass band music to the general public but don't give up before you've exhausted every avenue.

    (That was a reading from Roger's Saturday Morning Think Tank - Chapters 1 - 4) - Here endeth the reading!
  9. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Ok - the general feeling is get out there and engage the youngsters with some exiting stuff. This will solve only part of the problem. Youngsters are quite prepared to admit if they like something. Send out your youth band to a public event and you always get enquiries from kids and parents. The problem is keeping them in the crucial teenage years. You look at most youth bands or training bands and there are loads of kids 7 - 13 with numbers made up by mums and dads. What you dont see much of is the older teenagers - they've discovered birds, blokes and booze. Most won't admit they like something if their mates keep telling them its un-cool. Same story with audiences - the problem is the 13 - 35 age group.
  10. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Big Horn wrote:

    Unfortunately this is very true. Keeping these kids interested at this critical age is probably the most dificult task any band will be faced with.
    I think parents who have been associated with bands since they were children, will usually outride this battle of it being 'un-cool' and would I hope, encourage their kids to continue. But a non-playing parent may probably 'side' with their child as they cannot offer the knowledge of the benefits and advantages of playing in a band.

    My wife and I have both been associated with bands since we were youngsters and we had difficullties with our daughter when she started learning to play the cornet at the age of eight. She received constant jibes and comments about playing an instrument and would regularly come home from school in tears saying that she did not want to continue. It eventually became a 'bullying' problem, but we gave her the strength to stand up to her so-called friends and in the end she stuck with it and continues to play to this day.

    But yes, how can you convince a teenager that playing in a band is better than the latest computer game, the latest blockbuster movie or the latest dial-tone on a mobile phone! - I really don't know the answer!
  11. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    ... neither do I know the answer Roger, nor does any one person I feel. What works best in these situations differs per band/individual/parent/organisation... so, so many different variables.

    We would all love our children or youngsters in general to discover or stick to the magic of our music making. It is incumbent upon us as parents and enthusiasts to "prepare the way" as it were.

    I provide my children the opportunity to try as many things as can be sensibly balanced - music is one of them. As with you Roger (and many more people here I imagine), my wife & I have been involved in Brass Banding for many many years - both my children, though still young, have grown up in the company of brass bands, in the company of their wonderful people, with the sounds of their wonderful music, have participated at their social gatherings and parties, and have experienced their highs and lows et al. My kids have ...

    • taken their friends on trips away with the band
    • been to places with mates as a result of a band concert or contest that they wouldn't have been to otherwise
    • socialised with adults from a young age
    • learned to show respect to people... and retrospectively receive respect from the same people
    • met civic dignitaries and MP's, guests etc as a result of having a Dad as an MD!
    • asked questions about instruments/music having seen great players perform
    • learned how to play ....
    • made some very good freinds!
    • learned a tremendous amount about life skills...
    ... the list continues...

    This band movement of ours teaches kids more than how to play The Floral Dance... I have seen so many kids come through their teenage years, sticking to banding in the process, come out as sensible, well balanced, polite and level headed young adults. What a start....!

    Of course, we all recognise this list, and we have all probably done this. We all reap the rewards of our efforts and enjoy this movement of ours... and we'll carry on telling our kids all about it and what it can do for them. However, it all falls beautifully into place when you see your child play their first solo, confidently and with pride, in front of their mates (who don't play anything!) and in front of hundreds of admiring parents at the school end-of-term play...ooohhhh, how rewarding...

    Magic, just magic....
  12. twigglet

    twigglet Member

    brass banding and young people

    As a representative of 'young people' being only 17 myself I can only sing the praises of a brass band upbringing. It is through will power and love of music that has made me struggle through the stage of considering quitting because playing in a band is 'sad.' And I won't pretend I didn't go through that stage because I did at about 15-16 when all my friends were going out and I couldn't go because I had band.

    But I think we need to educate those who aren't in the know about the banding lifestyle, that think we go and play our flutes and stuff for hours and thats it. Having played since I was eight I have grown up in the brass band environment and it has made me the crazy, outgoing person that I am today. Being introduced to the wonders of beer, band-trips and bus songs at a tender age. Now I find that I am no longer ashamed of this and people are quite envious sometimes because through playing I have met loads of new people in various bands.

    Also having played in Orchestras and Jazzbands then I can see why people might perceive playing as boring as there is definately not as much fun to be had in them and the attitudes seem far too serious.

    So I say perservere with the campaign to recruit youngsters because for me the whole experience has been well worth it, and I think it will be the thing I miss perhaps most of all when i fly the band nest next year to go to university.

    Elin :wink:
  13. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    ... if you don't mind my pointing out folks... referring to the comments in my earlier post in this thread...

    I think twigglet's posts above sums up exactly what I am talking about... oh for more young adults like you....bravo twigglet, bravo!!!
  14. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Hi Twigglet - welcome aboard.

    Its good to have a younger persons views.

    Perhaps we need to take coach loads of teenagers to Pontins!

    Twigglet wrote:
    Enjoyment and Fun are definitely the main ingredients in encouraging the younger bandsmen/women to continue this enjoyable pastime through their teen years.
    The lower section bands have got to get off thier banding soap box and stop taking themselves so seriously.
    It is, at the end of the day a hobby, and I will continue to ensure that the members of my band enjoy it to the full.
  15. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    Re: brass banding and young people

    There is no reason to give it will be able to find many-a -welcoming band i'm sure!

    I also played from a young age (i'm in my 20's now) and I agree with the points made. when i was a teenager I went through the same phases but i was lucky as many of my friends also played in the band. My little brother is 16 now and he hasn't played in a band since he was 13. He will come back (as i keep on telling my mother!). Banding is like any hobby when you are a teenager...if it keeps you from hanging out with your friends then it is 'uncool'. That is never gonna change all we can do is let kids know what banding has to offer!

    i believe that banding really has made me the person i am today and i know i will never give it up!

    My niece is 3 and a half and can get some brilliant notes out of my cornet and her mummy's baritone.....i want to get her down the bandroom as soon as possible! before she hits the teenage phase :shock:
  16. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Re: brass banding and young people

  17. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    yeah well maybe 3 and a half is a tad too young...but i really couldn't believe the sound she could get....really impressive!
  18. frisp

    frisp Member

    Sorry about this...

    It was the audience I was rambling about not the playing side of things.

    I don't throw towels :D Having said that, all I do is continually remind people at work and other people I know that we're playing and they might like to come and listen as part of a night out. Success rate is nil, so far....

    ...and that was the point of my original mumblings :oops:
  19. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    yeah it is true....I have tried with friends etc and they all pull faces!! One friend came to Pontins a couple of years ago though and that did change her opinion on banding!

    The only people that seem to be really keen on coming along are my mum (she's a real groupie) and new boyfriends that want to impress!
  20. Fishsta

    Fishsta Active Member

    Well, my "other half" hates the band.

    Says I love it more than I love her.

    I got her to come to Whit Walks last year (2001) with that scratch band, and she loved every minute of it. Asked her to come this year, and she said, "No, it's crap."

    Christmas is particularly hard. She doesn't like me keep going carolling with the band.

    There's no way she'll change her mind, and God knows I've tried.

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