Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Bbmad, Feb 24, 2015.
Simple enough title, vote away.
Playing in a contest is not for me as I have better uses for my time and efforts not to mention the stress of the (IMHO wasted) day. However I do understand that others love to get to grips with one piece, like the intensity of the event and don't mind the extra rehearsals and fund raising needed to support the contest. That's their choice and I respect it. On the flip side I have attended a few contests to listen to the bands and have found that interesting, one a year is enough and I prefer 'entertainment' type contests which might not be the 'real thing'.
It will be interesting to see how the vote turns out. This forum might not be representative of 'bandsmen' as a whole and, of course, if you were a bandsman who didn't like contesting you might have been forced to find another hobby for lack of a band to play in .....
Very much in the "enthusiastic" camp.
I think contesting is good for banding generally - it drives standards up and draws players of particular standards together (not that standards in these bands are uniform or that good players are necessarily drawn to contesting) which enables higher standards of band to exist. In that sense I can see how it would be a necessary evil for some.
Personally, I wouldn't enjoy banding as much without it - getting stuck into a difficult and/or complicated piece of music, working on it in detail and getting to a point where you can (hopefully) perform it to a very high standard is a very important part of banding for me.
I don't like entertainment contests anywhere near as much as testpiece contests (either to play or to spectate).
I also think contesting serves a useful purpose in uniting/focusing local bands - it puts you on the map, so to speak.
The non-contesting bands tend not to be particularly well known-of amongst players in the contesting bands and can be more difficult to discover for a player looking for a band.
I voted that I like contesting but it's not the be all and end all.
I don't like the approach to contesting, especially in the lower sections. The way so much commitment, time, effort and pressure is put into it, most of the time coming away with nothing (unless you enjoy all that ofc and feel enriched) be that because you messed up on stage, becuase the adjudicator has a strange opinion or becuase everyone else has rehearsed that much too.
I like contesting maybe becuase I can be quite a competitive person, but mainly becuase of the serious rep, which I think should be played much more often in concert but hardly any MDs will program.
'Moderate like' here.
It's an activity that brings with it strong lists of both pros (increases technical standards across the board, helps networking, good fun on their merits if not taken too painfully seriously) and cons (encourages a tribal mentality between bands, stifles musical creativity, propagates the harmful notion that there are too literally objectively 'better' and 'worse' ways of interpreting musical points, can produce a repertoire that tends to the musically vapid).
I think that on balance the cons are heavier than the pros (but both are large). However, taking contesting out of banding would leave it a very different place, and a different kind of hobby. The cure would be less palatable than the disease. For better or for worse, our hobby has shaped itself around contesting, and contesting will for the foreseeable future remain a crucial part of its identity.
I am not convinced by the argument that contesting increases playing standards. Playing standards are increased by individuals practicing at home, especially using technical exercises. I think that the run up to a contest provides the equivalent of that for people who don't practice regularly. The run up period to a contest can actually degrade my playing. I tend to lock up or lock into a very regimented way of playing and lose a bit of my ability to feel what is going on in the piece musically.
Playing devils advocate: If contests improve standards what are we wanting to use those increased standards for? Recording? Concerts? Well the audience for brass band records and concerts seems limited to the relatives of people playing in/on them at the level most of us play at. There is some evidence that individual players use contests as a way of getting into a better band - by reputation, contest success in lower sections.
I am also not convinced that bands benefit from the competitive element. In a section of 12 bands its not competitive as you only have a 1 in 6 chance of being in the top two. There is also some statistical evidence that being drawn in the first few bands to play reduces that chance further! In other words, its more of an exhibition performance than a contest, in the way that an athletics race might be.
I think the reason bands do contests is that its "what they do".
My contest performances are drug assisted these days - are we planning to have drug testing?
Contest preparation - like. Worthwhile activity, raises standards, enjoyable.
Contest day - hate. Utterly pointless, demoralising, waste of time.
how do I vote in view of the above?
Contest force bands to play music they probably would not play otherwise, wether you like the piece or not, wether it's old or new it must be a good thing to try something different rather than just the pieces you (well the MD) like.
The contest day is both great and dreadful.
Waiting around to play for 12 minutes - bad
Trying to play without a decent warm up - bad
Finally getting to perform a piece you've been rehearsing for weeks - good
Meeting up with other bands for a pint and friendly banter - good
I voted for the "Enthusiastic, love contesting" option in case you haven't guessed
My band is situated in a remote location so we only manage to make the 'big one' at the Areas. This serves as a focal point on the band's calendar and a lot of fund raising and hard work goes into making it happen. In my experience the band bond more effectively socially as well as musically during this period and although the practices and build up are intense I think that having a competitive streak helps a band immensely. There are several other local bands nearby who are not interested in the slightest and I can understand that mentality however we have a lot of young members who have come through the ranks wanting a shot at going up against other bands.
One aspect of contesting that I have grown to dislike however is when it becomes the ONLY important thing on the calendar. A few years ago my band had a string of successes with a finals invite and subsequent promotion. Because at the end of the day we couldn't maintain a standard all year round we lost a lot of young members when we took a thrashing. I think a balanced approach is the best way especially in lower sections. It can become all to easy to forget your roots.
Don't like it, never have, never will for many reasons. Thankfully I won't be doing any more as I no longer play in a contesting band.
I do however accept that I am probably in the minority, and if we were all the same the world would be a very boring place.
As with many surveys, my personal feelings do not fit neatly into any of the four options. I have answered "Like it but not the be all and end all" as that is closest to how I feel at the moment.
But for me it depends on so many variables - the test piece on offer, the MD's approach to rehearsals, whether the band is playing well, achieving good results, etc. Two or three bad years, with poor results, empty chairs that you struggle to fill as players drift away or (on the other side of the coin) the buzz you get from a high profile, well executed concert performance can easily change how I, and I suspect many others, feel about contesting.
For me it's not the contest day but the concentrated 'playing together' that helps improve the band. Yes a poor performance on the day can have a negative effect but for me I don't care what the people in the box say I can hear even from my seat that the band is performing the music much better now.
Personally I love contesting. I even set up a band made up from members of NC bands so that people could do contesting and stay with their other band, rather than move elsewhere. I like the buzz of preparing and going on stage to perform both as a player and MD - yes I get nervous (sometimes) but in a positive way and I think its a great way for players to pull together that they never would for a village fete
However I can see why people dont like it - not everyone wants to concentrate on one piece and as mentioned above a bad result or two can have a bigger detriment to the band than if they hadnt contested at all.
I love it, it adds adrenaline to rehearsals and the friendly rivalry between banding mates is a really great social plus. I honestly think it improves musical appreciation and technical expertise, just don't ask me to play any solos, those days are long gone
~ Mr Wilx
I love it, theres an exciting feeling to be had by contesting. I also think it helps to improve music appreciation, Technicality, sight reading and team work.
I can also understand how some people don't like contesting - having to concentrate on one pieces for months.
How does something you rehearse a hundred times before performing it in public help sight reading??
the first rehearsal is sight reading, better than playing the same concert programme all year !
oh and best not forget getting to grips with the same christmas programme you've played for the last 20 years
If you are sight reading for a contest you are in trouble!
Whilst every point on contesting that Stevetrom makes is the complete opposite of what I think, I do agree that xmas music is duller than dull.
~ Mr Wilx
Who plays the same concert programme all year? We certainly don't.
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