Having a full band

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by fatstickmanslim, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. With bands struggling these times is having a full band such a requirement? it seems a long time that i have seen a full band and certainly not one without deps, is it time to reinvent the number format? just thinking.
  2. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    Perhaps it's time to work a bit harder (all of us) to make banding more enjoyable for younger people to join up and not drift off due to boredom? Some bands seem to specialise in playing pieces from the ark, that no-one likes or enjoys - banding should be a fun experience. Let's get recruiting new young players to fill the gaps and add a whole new dimension to their lives!

    Banding and pop music should not be in competition - skills you learn banding can transfer to Jazz, or hip-hop - whatever you want - once you've mastered a brass instrument the world is your lobster!
  3. just thinking along the lines of a 16 piece brass with perc as an official contesting number.
  4. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    I think it would sound a bit thin... Perhaps some bands should become Octets? Or merge with other bands in the area? (Hush my mouth)...
  5. agentorange

    agentorange Member

    And what about the thousands of pieces of music already written for a full band? Are we to disreguard them all (and with it our history and heritage) or are you offerring to rearrange them all for 16 players?

    I agree with Simes. Rather than just accepting that small bands are the norm, we should be working to encourage more players into our world, both youngsters and those who have given up playing. Easier said than done I know.
  6. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    That's the rub isn't it? It's easy to say and very hard to achieve. Those of us who band and who are enthusiastic about banding need to let our sense of fun and enthusiasm show to those who don't (yet) band.

    We can be a dour lot at times - or at least appear that way to the outside unenlightened world.

    I think we need to do more 'Last night of the Proms' stuff out and about - not just in concert halls to paying audiences, but work with councils etc to play in parks and shopping centres more than we do. I am in bands that wont do this wort of work unless the fee makes it worthwhile, but doing it for free will help make banding more mainstream again.

    We need more members, not just to avoid using deps all the time, but things are going to be very tight financially for the next 20 years - if we want to survive we need to become important parts of our communities and attract young players. A lot of people will pay to come to our concerts and fundraisings if a family member (especially a young family member) is playing.

    We need to make sure we are there at the village fete - even if we get no fee but pass a hat round to try to raise a few bob. We need to be at the local carnival, we need to be the first thing people thing of when local music is mentioned and parents wonder where little Johnny (or Janey) can learn music.

    Don't poo-poo the local kids who form a rock band - they are trying to do the same as us so work with them - live music is great no matter what it is. Invite the local rock band drummer to a few band rehearsals etc etc... Show them that the difference between us is small - we all want to be the best at what we do and we want to be entertaining.

    Schools are stuggling to fund this sort of activity now - so let's get round the schools, play little concerts of 'good music' (light-hearted easy to listen to - Hootenanny, Balydon Races, Instant Concert etc etc). Then hold a little workshop at the end and let the kids have a blow - once they get a sound out they might just be hooked if we do it right.

    Without this support and patronage from the local community our hobby, tradition and skills will die out.

    I'm not saying give up the serious stuff and contests - just that that sort of music and dedication is not the thing to bring in new players - once they are playing, then start them on the trickier stuff, the classical arrangements, the contest pieves - but first get them playing tunes they and their parents and grand-parents know and can stamp their feet to!
  7. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    One of the difficulties I have encountered over many years of teaching kids to play (since the Late 70's) is that it requires effort on their part.

    Its easy to get kids to 'have a go' (ie pick it up and try to blow it). But to get to anykind of simple level where they can play in an ensemble, even with simple music, requires several weeks/months/years even (depending upon the effort and talent of the learner).

    This can be very demoralising for them.

    If you think about it, complete novices need to be taugh to read music and play at the same time.

    I liked the Tune a Day start up method up to a point, as it introduced players to simple structures and notes gradually. But I found that once learners could play C - G/A at that point I switched them onto Hymn tunes and arranged with the Bandmaster to have these tunes played at the beginning of BP where I would stand behind my charges. This quickly got them into playing with the ensemble, where the most enjoyment is.

    If I had enough learners, I would save part of the session to have them playing together.

    Once onto Hymn Tunes I would teach the remaining notes/ lengths etc from them (Pretty easy iwth the SA hymn tune books), but would always play along side them (a different but related part -eg if teaching horn a different horn part).

    This I found to be the most effective method of keeping their interest until getting them into the band.

    But the highest drop out rate was always before I could get them to the point of playing with the band. It was probably my technique, but the hardest thing to teach was to play the first G page; starting off with producing any kind of sound, then making it into a G!
  8. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    I think P_S_Price has hit the nail on the head - you need enough learners at any one time to form a Junior Band/Training Band - whatever you want to call it - so that they can learn ensemble playing almost as soon as they can play a scale (or even part of a scale). The other (IMHO) important thing is that members of the senior or main band need to be involved to make up the numbers in the training band - so that it's never all just cornets or horns - it needs to be balanced like any other band, and the gentle assistance of people who have been playing longer is always useful.
  9. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Whilst I agree with you that bands need to be out and about in the community more - it's my opinion that last night of the proms stuff is entirely the opposite of what we need.

    Don't get me wrong, it's all very well in it's place.... which is the albert hall on the proms last night!

    When it comes to a brass concert, audiences don't want to hear it, bands don't want to play it, and you're far more likey to create an impression on your audience by throwing variety at them than hackneyed old cliches.

    As regards having a full band - I can't think of anywhere one could cut a band back and keep the same sound - and surely that sound that we all know and love is what we're all about.

    25 players is a good, balanced ensemble and, while yes it may be difficult to maintain this, it should be the goal of a contesting band to get as close to this as they can.
  10. still learnin

    still learnin Member

    We've had loads of discussions on this subject in the past, i.e., how to revitalise the brass band world. There’s no easy way to do it. I'm not sure that young people drift off just because of boredom or the type of music we play, my feeling is that it's the high level of commitment required and the number of other clashing interests and activities available that have a bigger impact.

    When I was a lad it was often only the discipline of my father and the "bandmaster" or “conductor” (where did MDs come from?) that kept me attending rehearsals and putting in my hour a day at home. I always enjoyed playing in a band but the competition between being out with my mates having a laugh and rehearsing a test piece (or any other piece of music come to that) was a close one. That was particularly the case at weekends when the social scene and opportunities for other activities such as sport always seemed to clash with band. I have clear memories of the times when I felt miserable because my friends were off chatting up the talent on a beach in North Cornwall whilst I was stuck near home playing in a band with several players missing!

    There is also the image issue. I’m sure lots of youngsters feel very self conscious about their mates seeing them in an old fashioned (often ill fitting) uniform and, sadly, sometimes sitting in a band with tuning issues. My parents used to tell me that if my mates took the mickey they weren’t really mates at all or, that they were only jealous. That may have been true but some youngsters (thank goodness there are exceptions) are easily embarrassed and it takes guts to be seen as “different”. If I’m honest I’m not that keen on dressing up in gold braided jackets even today!!

    For many adults, the demands of living in a modern world make giving up large chunks of precious weekends a real challenge. A lot of us work far longer hours and travel much further to work these days than our parents ever did. That means we don’t enjoy as much free time as previous generations and there is a lot more demand on the time that we do have. For bands to thrive we need players that are committed, prepared to put themselves out - to practice at home, get to rehearsals and get to the jobs despite all of the distractions. When I talk to ex players (including some youngsters) it was often the amount of commitment that was expected, or the fact that many in the band didn’t share it, that drove them away.

    I dislike raising problems that I don’t have a solution to, it sounds so negative, but the enthusiasm of passionate banders is not enough, on its own, to turn things around. I don’t think that the answer is in arranging music for smaller groups either. I love the sonorous sound of a good full brass band, I’m not sure that being part of a smaller ensemble producing a much thinner sound would have the same attraction for me.

    Well, I bet that’s cheered everybody up on this sunny Monday lunchtime.
  11. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    To start a B band or a junior band you have to have instruments though...and with local authorities getting their knickers in a twist about children using 'school instruments' to play in local bands, its difficult to see how the funding will get in place...
  12. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    Apologies - I've not explained myself well - I was reffering to the atmosphere and general joy of playing and listening rather than the actual pieces!
  13. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    It always been difficult to get funding (apart from the nbrief period when the lottery started). However, if our bands are so depleted of members, there must be lots of unused instruments in band cupboards.
  14. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    that's not a given...sadly when things are bad (lower turn outs on a consistent basis), then bands struggle for money, and start selling off assets....
  15. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    Although a full band of capable and motivated players is a great thing to have, many groups just don't have that currently. So when picking music to perform, you have to look at what you can do with the players available. Much concert music, when you look at it, has the harmony covered by several parts, or parts are cued elsewhere, so is performable with the odd player missing, but with a loss of tone contrast perhaps. Many pieces don't have split parts for tubas / back row so one player could cover the part.
    The Salvation Army published (maybe still do) the Triumph series, that can be played fully with

    3 front row cornets
    2 second cornets or 1 2nd cornet / 1 flug
    2 tenor horns
    1 baritone
    1 or 2 Euphs
    3 troms
    2 / 3 tubas
  16. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

  17. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    Believe me, you can play Triumph Series with a lot less than that!

    Plumstead SA Band when I was BM there had 2 Solo/1st, 1 2nd Cornets, 2 Horns, 1 Euph, 2 Bari, 1 Trom & 1 Eb Bass. We made a pretty decent sound.

    Also If you have a really small grouping then SA Unity series requires only 5 Players
  18. interesting isn't it. how many of you have done full band jobs so far this year? how many of you have been asked to dep, unfortunatly, too many bands , not enough players , but turnout of not a full band is still going to sound thin to a full band, perhaps contests should become massed band contests? join up with your rivals to compete, more concerts as massed bands?
  19. still learnin

    still learnin Member

    You're probably right consolidation could be the key to better quality and possibly survival. Lots of old rivalries, differences of opinion and issues of pride to overcome though. Imagine the first meeting - who will own the instruments? Who will conduct? Who will the principal players be? You're only joining us because we have better instruments! You've always wanted to get your hands on our library! How much cash do you have in the bank? Our rehearsal room is more convenient than your rehearsal room. And on and on and on and.........

    I still think that it's probably the way the future will look though. It's already happened in some places.
  20. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    For those bands struggling for players my music, available from www.pdfbrass.com all works with smaller bands. The reason - I write for my own band which is often short of players and I prefer to work with the players I've got rather than bring in deps.

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