Keeping Bands Alive

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, May 15, 2016.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Britain was once a country awash with Brass Bands and other music groups but that is no longer the case. Now some towns no longer have a band, music is not seen as a sufficiently worthwhile subject in schools and choirs are reduced in numbers and strength of members. Music, it seems, has become something you listen to from some electronic form rather than something you produce - the result of many social changes.

    I wonder what forum members have done in their communities and their bands to buck the trend and to keep their music groups going. How have they breathed life into then, got members and the community engaged in their success and generally enlivened 'grass roots' music making groups?
     
  2. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    I am involved in a new community wind band that has done the following to recruit members:

    1. Keep things fairly relaxed and informal.
    2. Advertised for people who have stopped playing and might want to restart (good social media profile has helped this).
    3. Obtained funding from various sources to pay for instruments and tuition.
    4. Setting achievable goals around concerts and events.

    So far it seems to be working
     
  3. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    I think this man has done a great deal to increase the popularity of choirs;

    Gareth Malone
     
  4. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Drivel, more people participating in bands than ever before. Contest entries at an all time high.
    Just an example of regurgitation of previous subjects.
     
    stevetrom likes this.
  5. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

  6. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Care to elaborate on that Bb? Where do you get that info from?

    Really?

    Its been my observation that, outside of the National and British Open contest series, contests entries are generally declining.
    Several local association contests are smaller than they were 5, 10, 20 years ago, the Masters is a shadow of its former self, even Butlins had smaller numbers this year.... so if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it!
     
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Some while ago I borrowed a folder from a local band, one that came into existence in 1977 under the direction of people that had been running bands locally since the early 50s, and has existed at a consistent 3rd/4th section contesting level since then. This folder contained all their contest results back to their foundation, along with remark sheets and programmes, and I borrowed it to add these contests to BrassBandResults.

    It was very striking to compare the number of contests that they attended in the 80s with what bands do now. They typically attended 8 contests in their yearly cycle at that time, most of which (large and small) have now closed down (Milton Keynes, Pontins, Lansing Bagnall, Shaw Social Club Newbury, Reading, Aylesbury). And they weren't standout with this - another Oxford local band in the same era with a similar history and level of performance had an annual circuit of 10 contest attendances in the late 70s for a number of years - and even went so far in 1978 as to attend 13! And entered two sections at 6 of those... A band would have to do a great deal more travelling to attend so many contests annually these days - but bands don't tend to want to - can you imagine your band returning 19 contest placings in a year? I can't. Times have changed.

    The list of contest results against years from BBR that Wendy showed is interesting, and something I've pondered over. The first thing to note is that the amount of contest coverage is dependent on two major factors: 1) How many contests were documented in the banding press at the time; 2) Whether someone has taken the large amount of time needed to go through back issues of band papers to pull them out - surprisingly often, they have (thank you Dave Holland for all your hard work). It also reflects a growing international set of contests in recent years (particularly in Switzerland, where there are many regional events), which drives much of the apparent recent increase. Some long-term patterns seem clear - slumps during both WW1 and WW2, periods of strong interest before both, and regrowths back to a new normal afterwards. There are times where a period of strong documentation can potentially distort the numbers - e.g. the era of Brass Band Annuals in the 1890s and 1900s, when the publication would collect together all the contest results for the year that they were aware of into one book.

    I would suggest that the apparent greater number of bands participating shown there is largely down to two major factors: 1) Increased international geographic spread of British-style brass banding, and 2) Bias in reporting towards more recent events.

    I would also speculate that the decrease in band numbers is seen most sharply on the non-contesting scene. Before WW1, there were astonishing numbers of little village bands, groups that were often low on numbers, non-standard in instrumentation, and longer on civic pride than musical achievement - naturally these did not tend to compete. In some areas, every village had its own band (some more than one).
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  8. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    There was an anecdote recounted in the back of this month's Brass Band World magazine. It concerned a Black Dyke bass player who once turned up late after lunch for a recording session. Following the session, when challenged about his tardiness, he apologized and said it was because he had met his wife for lunch, during which she had a heart-attack, and he had had to wait for the ambulance. When asked how his wife was, he said he didn't know, because he had just waited for the ambulance to take her away and since then he had been at band doing the recording session.

    I recall another anecdote, I think Bob Childs wrote it, about a player's wife who phoned to say her husband wouldn't be at rehearsal because he had had an accident at work. When asked what happened, she said he'd been hit by a wrecking-ball. When asked if he was alright, she said it wouldn't have been so bad had the wrecking ball, having flattened him, hadn't return on its swing and flattened him for the second time. Not to worry, though, she said, he'll be at band on Thursday.

    My point is that I think brass banding was once a movement made up mostly of men, in an era/culture when men did manly things and didn't shoulder their fair share of raising a family and running a household. I suspect this is at least partly the reason why bands can undertake fewer contests and concerts, struggle with attendance, commitment, and filling vacant seats.
     
  9. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Its all there to be seen. More contests overall and more bands competing than ever
     
  10. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    forgive my ignorance, but WHERE exactly can it be seen? Where are your facts and figures?
    (Apart from the BBR list which Moomin has already discussed)
     
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  12. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    On the BBR list, it shows year on year increases. Its only May and already loads of bands have competed in many contests.

    And don't give me "Moomin says so so it must be right"
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  13. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    OK, I'm out.....
    I should have known better than try to have a sensible conversation on here, or for you to come up with any evidence to support your claims.... :rolleyes:
     
  14. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

    Here's the same data as Years - Brass Band Results, limited to bands that are in one of these regions:

    London and Southern Counties
    Midlands
    North of England
    North West
    Wales
    West of England
    Yorkshire
    Scotland

    These results include whit friday.

    year | contests | bands
    ------+----------+-------
    2017 | 21 | 248
    2016 | 139 | 630
    2015 | 256 | 772
    2014 | 278 | 794
    2013 | 282 | 763
    2012 | 267 | 760
    2011 | 268 | 744
    2010 | 270 | 697
    2009 | 280 | 676
    2008 | 257 | 693
    2007 | 259 | 690
    2006 | 256 | 688
    2005 | 263 | 680
    2004 | 272 | 696
    2003 | 279 | 729
    2002 | 301 | 725
    2001 | 289 | 685
    2000 | 287 | 730
    1999 | 293 | 709
    1998 | 315 | 709
    1997 | 302 | 708
    1996 | 302 | 707
    1995 | 292 | 733
    1994 | 322 | 723
    1993 | 356 | 729
    1992 | 373 | 746
    1991 | 338 | 763
    1990 | 345 | 779
    1989 | 380 | 794
    1988 | 374 | 815
    1987 | 379 | 806
    1986 | 395 | 882
    1985 | 379 | 835
    1984 | 364 | 843
    1983 | 360 | 813
    1982 | 351 | 813
    1981 | 327 | 799
    1980 | 364 | 814
    1979 | 380 | 770
    1978 | 357 | 747
    1977 | 305 | 724
    1976 | 248 | 714
    1975 | 259 | 705
    1974 | 262 | 696
    1973 | 271 | 658
    1972 | 271 | 667
    1971 | 250 | 632
    1970 | 263 | 637
    1969 | 239 | 601
    1968 | 123 | 524
    1967 | 257 | 570
    1966 | 262 | 537
    1965 | 221 | 606
    1964 | 106 | 461
    1963 | 108 | 503
    1962 | 254 | 626
    1961 | 264 | 652
    1960 | 247 | 657
    1959 | 227 | 621
    1958 | 214 | 629
    1957 | 210 | 648
    1956 | 220 | 633
    1955 | 224 | 632
    1954 | 204 | 623
    1953 | 208 | 652
    1952 | 224 | 674
    1951 | 132 | 576
    1950 | 231 | 735
    1949 | 220 | 677
    1948 | 105 | 433
    1947 | 172 | 527
    1946 | 121 | 476
    1945 | 69 | 240
    1944 | 42 | 182
    1943 | 20 | 94
    1942 | 25 | 104
    1941 | 13 | 71
    1940 | 35 | 176
    1939 | 168 | 593
    1938 | 194 | 759
    1937 | 211 | 726
    1936 | 210 | 784
    1935 | 132 | 543
    1934 | 124 | 620
    1933 | 222 | 825
    1932 | 160 | 694
    1931 | 222 | 697
    1930 | 164 | 593
    1929 | 210 | 731
    1928 | 183 | 645
    1927 | 151 | 555
    1926 | 73 | 343
    1925 | 130 | 459
    1924 | 134 | 439
    1923 | 88 | 340
    1922 | 122 | 426
    1921 | 71 | 286
    1920 | 64 | 311
    1919 | 40 | 174
    1918 | 14 | 62
    1917 | 5 | 40
    1916 | 9 | 57
    1915 | 7 | 53
    1914 | 107 | 325
    1913 | 120 | 434
    1912 | 215 | 700
    1911 | 55 | 302
    1910 | 79 | 348
    1909 | 252 | 729
    1908 | 97 | 414
    1907 | 240 | 676
    1906 | 246 | 700
    1905 | 290 | 695
    1904 | 120 | 427
    1903 | 264 | 643
    1902 | 148 | 415
    1901 | 126 | 335
    1900 | 146 | 334
    1899 | 260 | 544
    1898 | 258 | 590
    1897 | 249 | 577
    1896 | 283 | 646
    1895 | 246 | 566
    1894 | 229 | 456
    1893 | 183 | 407
    1892 | 110 | 279
    1891 | 104 | 301
    1890 | 97 | 265
    1889 | 85 | 255
    1888 | 87 | 287
    1887 | 63 | 202
    1886 | 58 | 169
    1885 | 60 | 166
    1884 | 77 | 221
    1883 | 59 | 167
    1882 | 59 | 175
    1881 | 58 | 169
    1880 | 40 | 120
    1879 | 53 | 152
    1878 | 43 | 132
    1877 | 33 | 131
    1876 | 54 | 155
    1875 | 47 | 113
    1874 | 36 | 93
    1873 | 36 | 98
    1872 | 30 | 93
    1871 | 32 | 94
    1870 | 28 | 76
    1869 | 35 | 95
    1868 | 30 | 82
    1867 | 25 | 93
    1866 | 20 | 75
    1865 | 25 | 93
    1864 | 15 | 99
    1863 | 23 | 140
    1862 | 14 | 91
    1861 | 29 | 158
    1860 | 26 | 163
    1859 | 27 | 122
    1858 | 18 | 78
    1857 | 12 | 53
    1856 | 8 | 44
    1855 | 5 | 40
    1854 | 2 | 16
    1853 | 1 | 8
    1845 | 1 | 5
    1837 | 1 | 1
    1821 | 1 | 1
     
    MoominDave and Accidental like this.
  15. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    I appreciate the efforts made by those who have looked at band number data.

    Thanks, that's helpful to me. It's the type of information I was looking looking for when I made the original post

    (I wonder what forum members have done in their communities and their bands to buck the trend and to keep their music groups going. How have they breathed life into then, got members and the community engaged in their success and generally enlivened 'grass roots' music making groups?)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  16. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    We haven't done anything.
    What have you done?
     
  17. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the numbers, Tim, exactly what was needed. For ease of visualisation, here's a plot, with current and future years snipped off as obviously distractingly incomplete:
    ukyears.png

    For BBR records in their current partial-but-not-terrible state of completeness, red is the number of contests competed in by UK bands, and white is the number of UK bands competing. One can see how fuzzy the data gets as one moves away from the present, with years next door to each other in markedly differing states of completeness.

    Possible things that jump out at me:
    1) Both the number of contests and the number of competing bands peaked in the mid 1980s, with the 1990s seeing a notable drop in both.
    2) The drop in numbers of contests is maintained to the present day, but the number of competing bands has picked back up rather (though not to 1980s heights). This suggests to me that the time is ripe for people to start organising more contests - but I also wonder if we simply have more complete records of lower placings in the most recent years.
    3) The two world wars show up as obvious sharp low points on both curves, with pick-ups back to a new normal after each conflict taking a decade or so.
    4) There is on the graph a sharp increase in contesting popularity into the high-water mark of the 1980s. Is this real, or is it due to data becoming notably more complete from the 80s onwards? Perhaps improving transport options made more bands able to compete regularly.
    5) The peak before WW1 seems higher than the peak before WW2 in terms of numbers of competing bands, but lower in terms of number of contests.
    6) WW1 saw a greater drop than WW2, unless this is a number-of-records-kept artefact.
    7) But in general terms, each of the 1900s, 1930s, and 1950s higher points are broadly at similar levels.
    8) One can clearly see the massive sudden spike that helped kickstart the interest in band contesting in the first place - the 1859 Volunteer Act that produced quasi-professional roles for local bands up and down the country. Also probably not a coincidence that Enderby Jackson was busily promoting his new contests up and down the country at the same time.
    9) One can also see a sudden spike early in the 1890s - is this due to the availability of collections of annual results from 1891?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
    Accidental likes this.
  18. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Just a minor point, but I wonder whether a factor in the dip in the 60s was affected by rail closures around that time? If you read earlier reports, bands frequently used to travel by train, and it was probably a big cost increase to find they needed to hire buses instead.
     
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I suspect a bigger factor is that Dave Holland hasn't yet got around to going through much of the banding press of the 60s yet. It might be a real effect, but I wouldn't stake money on it yet.
     
  20. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

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