Is the 1st section still fit for purpose?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Thirteen Ball, Aug 31, 2011.


Is the 1st section still fit for purpose?

  1. Yes

    39 vote(s)
  2. No

    8 vote(s)
  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    This is a point that's been raised elsewhere in several forms - usually in combination with other debates on the changes needed in th organisation of british banding. By this thread/poll I'm attempting to crystalise the general feeling of the TMp fraternity on this single issue, as I think it's worthy of discussion in isolation.

    When the first section was created, it was arguable to create a stepping stone between the second section and the elite, in order to smooth the transition between the two for bands travelling in either direction.

    Do you think it is successfully fulfilling it's purpose in brass banding today?
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  2. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I've voted yes Andi, Although I do agree that to some extent it isn't doing the job, but I believe we should still have a 5 league system.
    The regions need to rebalance their tier's to create larger lower sections getting smaller towards the top, rather than the other way round. . . Make the top section truely for the elite bands, then the 1st section would become the valuable asset it was designed to be..
  3. jockinafrock

    jockinafrock Active Member

    Totally agree Garry. There's such a wide gap in standards between the top of the Championship section, the best of the rest and then the lower end of the table.
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I would abandon the 1st Section in favour of a larger championship section and redistribute the remaining bands over 3 sections (... a bit like what it used to be!). There's nothing worse than bands gaining promotion to the top section only to find that they strive to survive. I think it would create more stability, less player movement and you never know, better selection of test pieces for the lower sections.
  5. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    IMO the last thing the top tier of banding needs is more bands that aren't really of the quality for the section.

    I think the main problem is that the current structure is too top heavy. A vibrant and competitive 1st section could be created by moving the lower half of the top section into the 1st and a downwards shuffle with the lower sections.

    I also think that a radical shake up of how bands are promoted/demoted needs to happen. How about a system whereby the adjudicator decides at the end of the area contest whether each band goes up, goes down or stays where they are? It wouldn't do anything to solve the problem of section numbers being either too large or too small (then again, neither does the current system), but it would help to solve the problem of bands playing in sections that are different to their own standard and should help to make for more evenly matched competitions.
  6. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Its a section full of bands who are too good for the second section but not good enough for the championship, so yes I'd say it was 'fit for purpose'.

    Sorry to be flippant, but the easy criticism of 1st section bands handed out on a regular basis (it has to be said mostly by 4BR) really ****es me off. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the standard of the 1st section is dictated by the playing standards of the bands, not some pie-in-the-sky impression of how well we should be playing.

    Unfortunately the stepping stone is always going to be what it is - you can call the section whatever you want - 1st, 2nd, Rod, Jane and Freddy if you like, but it'll still be populated by the same bands.
  7. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    I agree absolutely with your first point. Arguably, it was a two-tier Championship section which led to the creation of the current Section 1 in the first place - yet there still seems to be a palpable difference between those bands who are sure of their top-section status, and those who have to work hard to maintain it. In spite of having Section 1 to 'bridge the gap', there is still a perceived step-up to the top section - if not directly in terms of the standards of playing expected, those which are required by its test-pieces (think back to 2009 and compare 'English Heritage' with 'A Moorside Suite', for instance), or in the more brutal knock-out nature of other championships, such as the Open and its various sections. (But yes, as has been said since I started writing this, there will always have to be a stepping-stone...)

    I'm not quite sure what you're referring to by top-heavy, though. A quick glance at the statistics (trawling 4barsrest's account of the 2001 regional contest results) shows that in only three out of the eight UK regions does the top section consist of more bands than the basic mean (total bands registered / 5) - and in two of these cases it's down to decimal fractions, and the fact that bands exist only as a single unit (in an ideal world, naturally). Two of these are among the smallest regions (the North of England and Scotland), whilst Wales, the smallest region, has a Championship section of 7 bands (below the 'mean' of 8 in this case) but ten bands each in Sections 1 and 2, and just 5 currently in Section 4. This is the only clear case of a top-heavy regional contest, however; in most cases the largest section in a region is Section 4, otherwise it seems most likely to be Section 2. The North of England is an apparent anomaly, having 10 bands in the Championship makes it the largest section there - though as the smallest UK region it could be said that it's more of a juggling-act to keep the balance of numbers there. The most balanced region, however, is another relatively small one - Yorkshire. 58 bands are divided as follows: C = 12, 1 = 9, 2 = 12, 3 = 12, 4 = 13 (mean = 11.6)

    It'd be a hard task - one involving much more beauracracy and number-crunching - to keep a more finely-tuned balance between sections. My rather crude analysis is based on the idea of equal numbers across all sections - although perhaps you had in mind more of a pyramid-shaped system? I can see the appeal behind such an idea (it would almost certainly make things more competitive right across the board), but where could we draw the line - promotion by quota? If a band earns promotion via the Nationals, would this mean another from the same who've earned promotion the long way round would have to stay down another year? It could get rather fraught - or perhaps I've got the wrong end of the stick here.

    And another thing - any sort of shake-down would end up further swelling the ranks of bands in Section 4, where a lot of bands (through no fault of their own, perhaps) seem to stagnate simply because it's so difficult to get yourself heard in a field of (in 2011) up to 25 bands, never mind earn promotion. If the top section is the hardest section to stay in, then surely the bottom section is the hardest to leave. If we're going to encourage a more lively competitive spirit, surely we need to look at that end of things too.
  8. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Top heavy probably wasn't the best way of conveying my thoughts. All I mean by that is that there are too many bands currently in the top section that aren't of the required standard to play the test pieces.

    Generally speaking the playing standard of bands is more in line with a pyramid system. I've often thought that the gap in standard between the top and bottom of the top section is similar to the gap between the bottom of the top and the fourth in reality.

    It's quite possible that my idea of promotion and relegation based purely on playing standard might make some area sections unworkable i.e. there are 10 bands in the 2nd section contest, the adjudicator believes that 5 should be in the first and the other five should be in the third would leave no 2nd section contest the following year. However what it would also do is get more bands out of the 4th section than the current system if the playing standard allows.

    Maybe the question should be 'Should the 1st Section contain only bands of that standard, or should it contain bands 11-20 in area ranking regardless of actual ability?'
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Depends on what standard you are basing the top section on. In the old system, there was always a lot of standard variation in the top section, but I think it was spread out a little more. A smaller section makes it more cut-throat and bad decisions can ultimately cause the fate of decent bands.
  10. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Although I know what you are saying, this is the problem - the 1st section bands are of that standard - how could they not be? They are there simply because they have survived against bands of a similar standard, or have been promoted from the 2nd or relegated from the championship.

    I know I'm over simplifiying this, and to some extent I agree that a full five-section pyramid structure would be better than the current system, but I think trying to dictate the standard against some sort of criteria is fraught with danger and inconsistency, IMO its much better to let the sections (and I mean all five here) find their own level. After all the powers that be don't seem to know what makes a 1st section test piece anymore, let alone what standard the bands it is set for are supposed to play it to!
  11. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Test piece choice really is irrelevant.
  12. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Why?? Surely that's one of the major elements that determine that standard of the section??
  13. blue juice

    blue juice Member

    It's doing the job in places where there are enough bands to fill it. Bit disheartening when you turn up to the areas and there are 5 bands in your section.
  14. t-horn77

    t-horn77 New Member

    I dont think the problem is havinga 1st section, it is more to do with the promotion/relegation criteria with the band moving up and down sections being awarded mid-table points for the previous 2 years.
    Particulary in the 1st Section, as it means that newly promoted bands form the 2nd section start the contest garded higher than some established 1st section bands and on an equal footting to those relegated from the top section - with no disrespect to any bands on the whole this is not a true reflection of standard of the field.
    It also means that those bands who on the whole a 'true' 1st Section bands due to one bad result the previous year can find themselves dragged into a relegation battle etc.

    So how about changing the grading criteria for the top 2 sections to as follows:

    Taking next years are into consideration Any band promoted or relegated into the 1st section will recieve mid table points for year 2010 and then for years 2011 and 2012 receive the points for the place that they gain that year's(2012) contest. Also use the same criteria for any bands promoted to to the top section?
    This will then place them in the correct half of the table for the following year (2013)

    I am sure with some work, and after a few years this could ensure that bands are in the correct section?

    Admittedly I havent carried out any analsys on this but it would make for an interesting comparison.

  15. Music-mitch

    Music-mitch New Member

    I think they should make another section Like a Super band Section
  16. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    How about you have two national finals
    1. The top bands in each section as is now. Top bands get promoted
    2. The bottom bands in each section - Last place bands get relegated.

    There are numerous reasons why 2 would not work, but the principle is the same as working hard for three years only to be relegated. Taking out the 1st section would increase the probability of yoyoing between C and 2nd, whereas the safety valve that is the 1st section limits this, unless of course the band are a top 1st section band, but do not have the wares to stay in the C section.

    I for one am glad that there is still a 1st section, as there would be no way that my band could compete against top section bands that have been relegated.

    Just my twopenneth which should probably be ignored anyway.
  17. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Yes, absolutely. Each section is a stepping stone to the ones above and below it and it always will be. Changing the number of sections or what we call them is never going to change that.

    Agreed. I think the issue is with the number of bands in each section rather than the number of sections/standard/labels. This has been discussed several times before, and general consensus usually seems to be that people like the pyramid model of a smaller top section with increasing numbers as you go down the tiers. Unfortunately that then opens up a whole other can of worms about the uneven numbers in different regions and arguments for changing the boundaries.

    ^ what he said! (much better than I could have put it)
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  18. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    I proposed the scrapping of the Championship section at regional level years ago.
    It`s time we relieved our elite 20 or so bands of the duty (and perhaps the cost) of entering a poor quality and in some cases a competitively irrelevant Area contest.
    Put them in a super-league type effort and using the RAH final and Lower section Ist section final relegate and promote bands to and from the elite group on a yearly basis.
  19. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    We already have a "super league" contest for our top 20 elite bands complete with its own promotion and relegation system.... its called the British Open.

    And any bands that think they're too good for the National Championships or that the areas are irrelevant are free to choose not to compete.
  20. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Big question is. Who are 'they' exactly ?

    If they is 'Us' meaning every bandsman with a vote then bring on the debate.

    Trouble is,
    we wont have a say as it will all be decided behind closed doors especially as there is now a lot of money involved at the top of our 'amateur' movement.

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