How we are percieved..

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by WhatSharp?, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Heres an interesting thread from the ABRSM forum

    I found it rather sad that some of the posts on there (from primarly "orchestral" brass players) still have the same old sterotypical views about us. :(
  2. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I think one of the problems is that the Brass Band movement as a whole quite often lives up to people's perceptions. If I was to try and describe a brass band contest to someone who didn't know about them, by about the third sentence, I would also be wondering why on earth we do it.

    Interesting that there are also a lot of unfounded perceptions in the brass band world about orchestral players - perhaps I'm reading too much into your post, but quotation/speech marks can say a lot!

    Since the band movement decided to change the rules regarding professional players, I think the barriers are starting to come down. The same can be said for the Brass Bands vs. Salvation Army issue of some years back.

    Maybe one way to ditch the stereotype is to not live up to it. And that goes for every musical genre, not just band players.
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I had a quick scan and there are quite a few truths which get covered on tMP on a regular basis ...

    - enthusiasm still strong within bands
    - little external support
    - regional variation
    - the need for junior bands to feed seniors
    - my favourite ...
  4. persins

    persins Member

    The general comments seem to suggest that lots of people are aware of Brass bands but that not many actually play for one.

    Many of the posts say "there are a few brass bands around my area...but I don't play for them"

    The question that probably ought to be asked is why not?!

    I'm sure this has been debated regularly thoughout numerous different threads with numerous different answers to consider.

    Perhaps the movement would benefit from some wider marketing to raise the profile and attempt to widen the appeal?
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - maybe because the posters aren't necessarily brass players? ;)
  6. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    I was using quotes to differentiate between those brass player which play in brass bands and those that don't, it wasn't meant to be derogatory.

    Interestingly enough I have never played in an orchestra, I would love to, however every advert I have seen for orchestras usually is either full up for brass or wants "Grade 8 minimum". I did wind bands as a youngster and it put me off for life I'm afraid! :D (anyway I sold my trumpet which I hadn't used for about 12 years, and bought a Schilke Sop :D ).
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Just an observation!

    I am in no way accusing you of this, but I think that there are a lot of bandspeople out there who have just as biased opinion against orchestral players as there are the other way around.

    I really don't think the band movement does itself many favours by clinging onto outdated ideas and practices. Interestingly, I have noticed an alarming similarity: It's the lower end of the banding ability scale that have the most negative opinions about orchestras and you know what? It's exactly the same the other way around!

    Perhaps we just need to learn to love one another's little faults! Believe me, I have plenty....
  8. brittm

    brittm Member

    I could be a little bit off topic here..

    I have an issue with the constant discussion over the demise of the brass band movement. It's a self fulfilling prophesy.

    The below is not intended to be a slagging off session but a suggestion that rather than talking, maybe we should be out there showing the public what we can do!!!!

    Image is a problem: The public face of brass bands is on the band stand. So, as long as the "better bands" don't do bandstand gigs, the not so celebrated bands will take up the slack. I like to hear a band in a park, as does my 20 month old son but even he hasn't recognised some of the efforts we've heard recently as brass bands.

    This is, maybe, the real effect of corporate sponsorship. Sponsored bands don't have to go out there and earn the money in the public domain. Forget concert hall gigs, your audience at a concert is made up of your family and supporters along with the previously converted, it can only ever diminish without positive marketing, i.e. by getting out there and playing on a bandstand.

    In summary: If the public only ever hear the stereotype "old boys" band in the park, how can we expect their perception of brass bands to be anything different.

    Tell me I'm wrong.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2006
  9. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I think one of the problems with peoples perception of Brass Bands is that they think we are still all walking round with Cloth cap and whipets and that we only play music from the 1920's 30's and 40's except Floral Dance

    The other problem is that unless a school has a keen brass tutor in it then they tend to follow the orchestral path thinking that if they make a career of music that the orchestral paths are pathed with gold (we know in most cases they are not)

    With recent publicity in the papers and on radio (Grimey) this could help towards changing the perception of brass bands

    In general the brass band movement is strong but alot of hard work in the future will be rquired from us all to keep it that way
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    You're wrong ;)

    You assume that all of the 'top' bands are rolling in corporate money, therefore do not have to work for a living. The truth is that almost every championship section band is strapped for cash and has to work very hard to earn it's keep. My band is one of the top 30 or so (I think - I haven't seen the rankings recently), but we have done concerts in park bandstands, village halls, even a car park just to pay the rent on the bandroom and pay the occasional expenses to deps. The only person who takes regular expenses is our conductor, but when you consider how far he travels, he would be out of pocket if he didn't take anything.

    In my experience, it's the 4th section village bands who have the money. One band I know of has at least £25,000 sitting in their bank account gathering dust.

    You are right about people's perception of bands, but it's certainly not to do with money.
  11. brittm

    brittm Member

    Ok, I didn't think it through.... thanks for picking me up on it (!)

    I don't have any illusions about money sloshing around band accounts, and to be honest I may just be talking about the area in which I live (which is nowhere near Desford), allow me to shift my point...

    My personal experience in the South East outside of the London parks is that Championship section bands don't do park jobs, that is either because they have enough cash, would rather pay subs to the band instead of do a park date for £150 (or thereabouts) or raise the funds elswhere. The crux of my point is that as long as the better bands leave the park jobs to "others", the public perception will remain exactly where it is.

    Incidentally, I have no problem with conductors or players taking expenses or a fee for their time and talents (that would be duplicitous).

    My point remains the same (even if the way I got there has changed):

    If we want to improve perception, we need to be out there showing what a serious band can do. There is a place for the village band, I just think there is no awareness of the kind of quality out there. My band is probably as guilty as any other.

    I will now shut up as I've no doubt already offended enough people.


    Last edited: Sep 14, 2006
  12. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    When struggling for cornet players I have called a number of local trumpet players, some of whom were previously members of our band, in an attempt to get them to come along. All of them without fail were happy to come and help out but did not want the level of commitment that goes with being in a Brass band! i.e. they were happy doing orchestral jobs and picking up there 50 notes for one rehearsal and a concert. That is the reason why not. Not everyone is willing to offer the same level of commitment that some of us do to our bands.
  13. davethehorny

    davethehorny Member

    This post just about sums it all up - we are perceived as strange individuals who attend 'band practice' rather than family weddings, holidays, nights out with our mates etc. This high level of commitment without payment is seen as perverse by trumpet players who are often paid to play (sometimes at a much lower standard).

    It was reassuring however to read one of the posts on the ABRSM website that referred to my band. It was very sad to bury our 23 year old Cornet player Roy Samson last year, but it was heart warming that someone, not a member of the band, remembered that he was one of our members.

    I don't care how we are perceived at the end of the day - as long as I can carry on doing something I love, surrounded by wonderful people, should we really care what other people think of us.

    Let us carry on spreading the message about brass band music and one day it might just be fashionable again!
  14. All accoustic music is dead or near so. I like ballroom dancing - that is dead also.

    One day accoustic music may come back in favour - but it will be electronically produced.
  15. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    The only way to do that is to get rid of the ridiculous uniforms! I was walking down the road on the way to a brass band gig the other week, I bumped into someone I knew and they asked me if I was going to a fancy dress party.....they'd just seen my band jacket. Kids can be cruel and if we insist on wearing these old fashioned out-of-date multi coloured jackets, the younger players just aren't going to want to join for the risk of being bullied by their peers!

    I was chatting to a friend the other day who moved away from the area recently, I was amazed when he told me that the non-contesting village band he had joined announced that they had a similar amount in their bank account at their AGM :eek:


    I work in a secondary school, where my head of faculty is a trumpet player, who does shows and orchestral work. When she found out I played for a brass band, she immediately started to take the p*** out of me mercilessly for being obsessed. She actually thought I was obsessed because I can bother my backside to go down to rehearsals on a regular basis (2x a week) rather than get paid for doing a weeks' worth of shows every 3 months. Her idea of brass bands was playing marches and playing park fetes, not appearing in some of the best concert halls up and down the country and peforming with some of the finest brass musicians in the world!
    Anyway, I happened to have a recording of our band from the Open last year on in the office when she walked in. She heard it, and was amazed to find out it was a live recording and not a proper CD. She doesn't take the mick any more, but does think I'm boring because I can never seem to go on any staff nights out or weekends away because they always seem to fall when I have band jobs!

    Just another point about the money thing mentioned above, I know a band in the same area as my band who have a 5 figure sum in the bank (more than that mentioned above). They don't win many contests and don't do that many paying gigs, but they are very smart with money.

    Also I think the uniforms are quite smart. I rather like ours (apart from the dress trousers are a bit scratchy!) but they are soon to be changed to a uniform which probably will make us look like Scottish waiters (not that theres anything wrong with Scottish waiters...)!
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2006
  17. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Couldn't agree more, Bryan. Gold braided uniforms belong to the era of the G trombone and William Rimmer. It's not a question of being 'trendy' or 'up-to-date' it's simply moving along at the same pace as the rest of the world. Many orchestras are starting to ditch white-tie-and-tails in favour of more comfortable and less formal dress, so why the band movement still clings on to toy soldiers' fancy dress is beyond me.

    An interesting point was brought up my sister's other half (who plays for Cawston and teaches in a secondary school). He was trying to get a promising student to perform in a school concert. The student was reluctant, saying that it was 'social suicide' to be seen by her mates. Sad but true :(
  18. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    Its sad but unless things change we will have bands who compete for their own pleasure and do concerts only for family members to attend.

    When I go to band contests there is noone there from outside the bands and when I go to concerts its either relations or people of an older generation.

    I don't think there is too much of a problem getting youngsters into the movement. most bands that try manage a decent youth band and the kids enjoy it.

    The problem is how to make a band something wanted by the rest of the community.

    I don't know the answer to that, but as time goes by the majority of bands are becoming more introspective.

  19. glitzy

    glitzy Member

    I think the recent series 'Yorkshire Brass' did nothing to help the way we are percieved. I felt it came across as all flat caps and cobbles type stuff and really didn't portray us the way it really is.

    Also, concerning Steve_R's point, it is hard to encourage members of the community to support their local band, partly because they all expect us to play 'Floral Dance' .
    I would probably not go to a music concert that was performed by a group i knew nothing about..that includes pop, rock and all other types of genres.

    People tend to stick with what they know.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2006

    TIMBONE Active Member

    This is a big big subject, and I have many personal experiences and observations, but I will try to pick a few, and put them into a paragraph. Like myself, there are many brass band musicians today who play in other genres, orchestra and big band for example. My own background was not brass band, and my professional work as a trombonist was orchestra, jazz, and 'brass' section in pop. I have to admit, that when teaching brass I used to choose the 'natural' clef for trombone and tuba, ie, bass clef. OK, I entered the brass band world in my 40's, and I love it, and now my priority is writing and publishing music for it. I met Julie who plays the tenor horn, which I used to hate, not Julie, the tenor horn, but I love them both now :)

    I will use an analogy.

    The brass band is like golf, they both have organised, enthusiastic, commited members who will pay with time and money to pursue this activity. They are both minority interests, a large minority, but a minority all the same. They are also isolated. Golf has it's own set of skills which only a golfer will understand and be interested in. Brass bands are the same, with some instruments which are exclusive, and all playing in treble clef, (except for bass trombone and timps). The brass band will always be isolated, because to try to change the instrumentation, (french horns/trumpets for example), and the clefs, would be like trying to make golf balls bigger, have 'tupperware' golf clubs and 28 holes on a course.

    Golf will always be a popular sport, and brass bands will always exist, but only for those who understand them. It would just be nice if most people at least knew what a brass band is. Even I know who Tiger Woods is, even though I have never played or watched golf.

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