National Championships Re-organisation??

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ankanala, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    In my opinion the National Championships Finals at the Royal Albert Hall each October should feature all of the best bands Britain has to offer. Because of the system of qualification from the eight area contests it means that every year at least 2 bands capable of winning the title cannot compete because they have failed to qualify due to the geographical situation of the bands which only allows so many bands through from each area.

    Every other brass band nation that runs a National Contest have all of their best bands competing. I would now like to set out an idea as to how we can do the same.

    12 bands should form an Elite section that will not compete at the Area Contests and will be invited to the Finals at RAH. The National Final should then be increased to a two part contest, a set-piece in the morning, and then an own choice in the afternoon with separate draws and perhaps a youth contest in between. The placings will be decided by an aggregate of the scores of both sections similar to the European and Norwegian Contests. Two different adjudication panels will be used.

    All other bands will compete through the Area Contest system in 4 sections, ie 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th with 2 bands from each area qualifying for the National Finals of each section currently held in Harrogate.

    After the Finals the two bands placed 1st & 2nd in the 1st Section National Final will change places with the 2 bands placed 11th & 12th in the Elite section earning an invitation to the National Final at RAH the following year. The two bands relegated will be required to compete at Area level in the 1st Section the following year.

    Additionally all of the English bands in the Elite Section will receive an automatic invitation to the All-England Masters Championship at Cambridge along with the 6 English Area Contest winners in the 1st Section. The organisers would be able to make the number up to 21 with wild card invitations and the winning band at Cambridge would receive the English invitation to the European Contest for the following year.

    The initial 12 bands can be decided by the BBW or 4Barsrest ranking system.

    The benefits of this system are as follows:

    1) All the best bands compete every year at RAH in the National Final.
    2) Every band in the country has the opportunity to qualify for all the major competitions.
    3) The National Final in RAH is based on more than one performance.
    4) The Area Contests, although lacking the name bands, will become much more competitive.

    What do you think?

  2. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    It sounds all very complicated and good for the "top" bands, but a bit of a let down for everyone else!

    You argue that due to the "top 2 qualify" system, bands capable of winning the nationals don't qualify. your system, whilst addressing this issue in the top section doesn't sufficiently address in the lower sections. How about a seeding of areas, for each section so as to provide a better spread, judged upon the performance of the areas bands the year before? For example, if the Yorkshire bands manage a 2nd and say a 4th at the Nationals, the seeding of Yorkshire would rise and perhaps an extra national place would be awarded. These extra places would be available on a merit only basis and would have to be restricted, for example, say 5 extra bands on top of the basic 2 from each area. It couldn't be worked through the stripping of places from poorly performing areas because eventually certain areas would be lost from the competition and you could end up with a National CHamopionship of 10 Yorkshire bands competing against each other!!

    Just a thought..
  3. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    You have obviously spent some time thinking about this. The idea does sound quite good I have to say. Drawbacks I can see are thus:

    The bands who make up the elite section do not evenly represent the whole country so is it really a national championship.

    In our area L & S C, I dont believe we have any bands in the top 12. Do you suggest therefore that we double our 1st section numbers or relegate down through the sections the amount of bands dropping into the 1st section ie 8 drop into 1st, 8 into 2nd etc., If that happened we would have a potential 40 bands in the 4th section!

    Also would the top 12 be regraded each year dependent on their place in the rankings at the end of the year or solely on the National Finals? If so I could possibly see the same 4 bands swapping each year!

    Once again well done on being constructive, and keep the thoughts going
  4. The Cornet King

    The Cornet King Active Member

    Yes I have similar reservations to chunky. The thought of every band being in effect "downgraded" and making some of the sections have an exeptionally high number of bands competing would i believe be a bad move.

    The current 4bars rest top 12 would only see 4 regions represented, Yorkshire, North West, Scotland and Wales.

    It sounds good in theory but for many bands the aim of achieving the banding elite (championship section) may become out of reach with their only being 12 bands in this new elite section.

    Perhaps it would give for a better contest but it would also take away the magic for band "underdogs" to reach the national finals and perhaps cause an upset!
  5. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    Wow! and you you call my system complicated!!!!!

    It is essential to have the same qualifying system every year that allows all bands the same opportunity. My system allows that throughout all sections and other than the Elite section isn`t far removed from what it is now. And anyway, if the 10 best bands are from one area, so what! the National Final should have them all. Other areas will stll have 2 opportunities every year to join the Elite.
  6. yorkie19

    yorkie19 Active Member

    Isn't reducing the Nationals to the top twelve bands almost creating another 'Open'.

    If you look at the 4barsrest rankings and compare it to the bands at the Open, with the exception of Sellers, all the bands in the top 12 also compete in Birmingham.

    Personally, I can't see the point in re-structuring the Nationals to create another 'closed' contest. Ultimately, it will be very hard for most bands to reach the RAH this way. Surely part and parcel of the Nationals is 'the FA Cup effect' where an unfancied band can sneak through on a slightly strange result?

  7. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

  8. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    Exactly what I was going to say. The 20 or so "top" bands in Britain compete at the open. The best performers at the area compete for the national title. That's part of the thrill of performing at the areas. There's always a chance (no matter how small) that you could be competing in the Albert Hall. An elite contest would be pointless I think.
  9. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    In our area L & S C, I dont believe we have any bands in the top 12. Do you suggest therefore that we double our 1st section numbers or relegate down through the sections the amount of bands dropping into the 1st section ie 8 drop into 1st, 8 into 2nd etc., If that happened we would have a potential 40 bands in the 4th section!

    This is a draw back admittedly but surely the bands could be evenly spread across the 4 sections

    Also would the top 12 be regraded each year dependent on their place in the rankings at the end of the year or solely on the National Finals? If so I could possibly see the same 4 bands swapping each year!

    No the rankings would only be used initially, the National Final result would be the only grading table, but they would have 2 performances and in my opinion grading should only be over one year anyway.[/quote]
  10. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    There are lots of things in your ideas which I like and would gladly support.

    But I can see the complications as well, most notably the need to re-grade all bands in order to accommodate all but twelve of the current Championship section bands into the 'new' first section. Wouldn't it be easier to move to a six section format through the creation of an elite group? In some regions the lower sections are already very big.

    My biggest reservations are that (a) the very tight restrictions on joining the 'elite' would be a massive disincentive for the majority - no matter how hard we work the odds of us getting to the Albert Hall would be so remote as to be almost negligible.

    (b) we already have contests for the elite: the British Open (and to an extent the Masters) works along similar lines to the contest you describe, with the Grand Shield fulfilling the role of the 'lower section finals'. Reduce the numer of bands by half a dozen at these events and you can have the contest you want much more easily!

    I suspect that all contesting bands dream of playing in the Albert Hall, and through the 'democratic' system we have at the moment, the best bands in each region all have a reasonable chance of realising that dream - a true National final in the sense that all regions are represented. For the majority of Championship Bands, that chance means a great deal; if the price for that opportunity is that Black Dyke or Fairey's (for example) miss out on a trip to London once in a while (and are only invited to compete in two elite contests each year) its a price worth paying.

  11. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Allow me to paraphrase your statement:

    "In my opinion the FA Cup Final at the Milennium Stadium each May should feature both of the best football teams Britain has to offer. Because of the system of qualification from the qualifying rounds it means that every year at least 20 (or whatever other number you prefer) capable of winning the trophy cannot compete because they have failed to qualify".

    So: I'm sure you will agree that in future we can dispense with all those time-consuming qualifying rounds in the FA Cup and just ask Manchester United and Arsenal to reserve the relevant Saturday in May for the foreseeable future. No problems there, are there?? :wink:
  12. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    All this talk of an elite! What would our dear Chancellor Mr Brown say? Aren't elites supposed to be nasty, bad unfair things? :wink:
  13. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    This is not the case at all. Every band still has the chance to qualify for the final by being placed in the top 2 the previous year. The football analogy just doesn`t relate mainly because its a knock out competition with only 2 finalists.
  14. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    As usual David you make valid points which I can`t really argue with other than to say I believe our National Championship at the RAH should have all of our very best bands regardless of any geographical situation. Yes the Open is the same but so it should be and the inclusion of overseas bands can make a true `Open`

    With regard to qualifying for RAH in my system, any band who is good enough will and the standard of the final will not be diminished by anyone.
  15. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Imho the Open and Masters are elitist enough already. The beauty of the Nationals is that it is the only truly national contest, with all regions pretty equally represented (the prequalifiers obviously skew this a bit!).

    I feel that the kind of changes being discussed here would just increase the bias towards historically "better" regions, and make it even harder for anyone to get out of the lower sections. (Just my personal opinion, fwiw!!)
  16. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

  17. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member


    But you propose to achieve this by granting privileges to those who need them the least! I think the current system is fair because all bands in a section start from the same place: one contest, one test piece.

    Numerically speaking, at present my band have a 1 in 6 chance of reaching this year's National Finals. Under yours it would be reduced to something like a 1 in 100 numerical chance of reaching next year's finals. I'm sure you wouldn't expect me to vote for that!

    And why should the Open be the same as the National Finals? Surely the difference is what makes them both special. And why do you extend the privilege to overseas bands when you're so keen to restrict the options of our own bands?

    Cheers for a thought-provoking discussion!

  18. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    I don`t think the system is fair at the moment, because it penalises bands simply because of their geographical situation.

    I also take your point on the chances of your band, but from an audience point of view surely we want all the best bands to play in the final. If your band is one of the best then you will be there, it doesn`t stop anyone dreaming of playing there, and this system doesn`t bar anyone, it simply means if you are the best you will be there.

    As far as overseas bands are concerned, some of them are as good if not better than us now and an Open with Eikanger, Stavanger, Treize Etoiles and Willebroek would be mouthwatering, although not perhaps all at once!

    As for restricting our own bands, don`t we want the best National Final possible and make them play twice.
  19. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Couldn't agree more - just look at the geographical size of the L&SC region compared with ooh, say, Yorkshire?!!!

    Edit: duplicate post deleted. Dyl.
  20. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Nationals re-organised

    This thread goes along the same lines as I have been stating for a long time. I have read all the posts on this thread and I can see both the arguments for and against.
    However, I agree with Ankanala on the the idea of having the best bands competing against each other. Other countries show the way in contesting as far as I am concerned, whether it be in America, Australia or Scandanavia. Am i completely wrong in saying that we maybe the only country not to employ a Test and own choice competition for the Nationals and as far as I can see the only way to keep the same number of bands is to have the competition over two days - own choice Saturday, test piece Sunday. In theory this would be ideal but somehow I can see the cost of the whole event getting way out of the sponsors budget range, meaning that bands would have to pay more entry money. So the most logical way is to decrease the amount of bands entering the competition. Obviously all bands want to compete against the perceived "top" bands, but who are the bands that constantly finish higher in the contests ? I would imagine that it would be perhaps as few as 7 bands that are placed on average in the prizes, if that. This of course does not mean that other bands do not play out of their skins and get a place and this is where I can see the point made by the people saying there would be less chance of that happening with less bands. People make the National seem like a romantic image of David vs Goliath, and yes, in many ways it is.
    First of all, we need to buck up our ideas alltogether! We build ourselves as bastions of the banding tradition, whilst abroad they are modernising our basic structure and making a better job of it. Its sad to say it over and over again, there are those who just stick like glue to tradition with the same arguments such as " if it aint broke don't fix" whilst the attitude should be "how can we improve our contest system". If there was another section made below the Championship, like there has been in the past with the introduction of the 1st Section, then the idea of having less bands compete at the nationals would logistically be possible. I can see people arguing against this, perhaps stating that would mean that the perceived "lesser" bands would not get to play in the Albert Hall. But if we look at that argument, would players from the lower sections have a higher motivation to improve if they were allowed to go to the Albert Hall as well. Aren't we now in a system with the Nationals that is unfair on those in the lower sections ? There should surely be another weekend which has all the other Sections based in the Albert Hall. If we want to take sporting analogies inside competitve structures how about looking at the Cricket County Championship and how that league was split into two, allowing more competition, arguabbly higher standard of competition, especially if relegation is a realisitic possibility because there are less bands.

    It's time that we wake up to the fact that if we intend to go completely down the path of contesting then we need to have a more structured organisation. One Board of people should get together, as I stated earlier, and run all the contests as a league basis. We have perhaps 5 contests a year, these include a London competition (Nationals), Birmingham competition (Open), Masters, and both a Scottish Open and a Welsh Open. In these contests the top 12 bands would compete over a contest year and the one that on average places higher in the contests would be National Champions. That would be an ideal way of sorting out which band is best. The lower sections would have a similar structure, but the competition venues would include 4 contests, 3 qualifying rounds, and the bands that on average get higher places qualify for a National final in London, where the top two get promoted to the higher level, and the bottom two of the Elite get relegated ?

    That would work, although how many people would attemd all these contests would be very debatable !

    I think Ankanala is absolutely right in trying to change what quite frankly is a dated contesting system. Lets get our heads firmly out of the sand here. Whats the point of being a National Champion when you don't compete against all the best bands ? Yeah its good to win, I know, but at the end of the day on reflection can you safely say that you beat every one of your close competitors ? No. We put an emphasis on competition but its like the old parable of the man building a house on a foundation of sand...There are many ways of changing a system, a repertoire or instrumentation...but sadly none change that much, mainly because we're yet again on this subject stuck in a time warp!

    Anyway feel quite strongly on this subject and good on ankanala on raising a point that needs to be discussed in great depth.

    I have more things to say but thats for another day.

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