Nationals Rethink.....

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by Padstow, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. Padstow

    Padstow New Member

    4bars rest are spot on, its time for a National rethink. :clap:

    The way I would do this is expand the World of Brass Rankings (which are a much better indicator of a bands relative ranking), to include all bands. Ok,this would involve a lot of monitoring work, but at least the ranking is a much better indicator of a bands merit through the year. The rankings would of course exclude the foregin bands.

    The qualification contest could then be held in 5 or 6 cities, but to ensure a fair spread, bands would have to travel (big deal).

    The top 20 bands could be seeded so that they are split between the 5 venues, or even a more logical system is set up....a simple suggested method is as follows:

    Imagine 2010 Championship Section Qualification Contests based on a simple system in 5 venues

    Venue 1 - Bands Ranked 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36, 41, 46, 51, 56

    Venue 2 - Bands Ranked 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, 32, 37, 42, 47, 52, 57

    Venue 3 - Bands Ranked 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38, 43, 48, 53, 58

    Venue 4 - Bands Ranked 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29, 34, 39, 44, 49, 54, 59

    Venue 5 - Bands Ranked 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60

    First Section would then be:

    Venue 1 - Bands Ranked 61, 66, 71, etc

    etc etc .

    Simple, fair,and it would be a great, logical way to decide who are truly the worthy National Finalists. Would be some good contests too!!

    What do others think? (the Traditionalists will be horrified im sure!!)
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2007
  2. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member's probably a bigger deal than you think.

    A lot of Bands struggle enough to find the money to attend the Nationals, let alone the qualifier the prize money for which doesn't even cover the bus money one way...

    Edit: There again, I suppose that already exists in Scotland and Wales anyway...
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2007
  3. Padstow

    Padstow New Member

    You're right I agree it is probably quite a big deal.., (But then again, if we're going to spend 3 weeks of our lives every year rehearsing a piece, whats a few hours on a coach?)

    So how about a system when you travelled to your nearest or next adjacent centre? There could be a ballot for 1st Choice, 2nd Choice, 3rd Choice venue, mix it up a bit.

    Clearly the current system is full of problems, and if people are happy to leave it as it is then thats up to them, but there are some of us who feel like a change is needed.

    Just trying to open the debate

  4. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's not the few hours on a coach - it's purely the economics.

    FWIW I think the basis of your proposal is's working out how the £ would translate.
  5. Padstow

    Padstow New Member

    Yes, I accept its an economic issue.

    Another way to decide could be to take a map of the uk and plot on the top 60 bands. Then decide how to split the dots into 5 groups. Yes it will be similar to the current system but at least it will use the rankings and it would give opportunity to balance things out. Some bands might be more than happy travelling a bit further if it means their chances of qualifying are improved.

    the other sections could be done the same way.
  6. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's a bit like deciding to take your driving test in Rochdale rather than Bury because there isn't a hill start ;)

    It'll be an interesting thread, once it gets started...
  7. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Isn't what you're describing pretty much what already happens with the Open and Spring Festival for top section bands?

    I thought the whole point of the Nationals, and the thing that makes these contests the main event for most bands, was regional representation - imo the areas may need a bit of re-jigging to even out numbers, but thats the only thing that should change.
  8. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I object! If we were ranked 59th instead of 60th, we'd only have to travel 23 miles instead of 345. :rolleyes:
  9. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Nope... not simple, and by no means fair - just elitist.

    Just as there are many brilliant players in the lower sections who decide for whatever reason not to compete at a higher level, there are quite possibly many lesser bands who, for whatever reason, don't or more importantly can't compete at the higher level.

    Being the 'best' - is relative. I know several players and MD's who are as good as any in top class banding, but who choose not to take that path. This doesn't mean they are not as good as their better known counterparts, or in some cases, perhaps they are even better.
  10. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I refer the honourable member to the answer I gave in another thread!

    Doing it this way means that bands can attend wherever they like (not neccesarily the heat nearest to them if they don't fancy it), but if the standard at any given heat is too low then the judges can just not pick a band from that heat. This would also put pressure on regional organising committees to pick the best possible venue they can afford, because they would be competing for entries with other areas. It may be, for instance, that Midlands bands hacked off with the Belvedere club would prefer go to Swansea, Bradford, Blackpool or even London, to get a better venue with more facilities.

    Also the panel of 4 judges should be in the open and should include the composer wherever possible (obviously not Eric Ball and Helen Perkins!), 2 banding names (preferably active and demonstrably successful conductors) and a non-banding brass player (maybe someone like John Wallace?).

    Testpieces should be picked on an alternating cycle as suggested a while ago by straightmute (new commission, golden oldie, modern classic, orchestral arrangement, etc.) and announced at least 2 years in advance so that publishers have plenty of time to sort out errata.

    No points to be awarded, just 1st qualifier, second qualifier, etc. The judges also recommend which bands should be relegated at each heat (max of 20) - a band selected for the finals twice in two years gets promoted, a band recommended for relegation twice in two years goes down.

    Pick the bones out of that one!:D

    [dons flak jacket and heads for cover]
  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    How would you propose modifying the grading system in line with it Andy? Are you going to run the heats in sections as now or something else?
  12. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    I think once you start introducing a matrix of numbers like 1,6,11 related to 2,7,12 etc - you are too far away from what is really happening.

    As for the point (Don't know if it was you or someone else) about the 59th best band doesn't have to travel as far as the 60th band – Well, it's the best bands that can more afford the travel! - and in any scenario- they have to understand that or they will soon become the best of a very, very small movement!

    I'd go the other way - I don't know how many bands exist that don't go to the regionals (Because unlike the 59th best band, they can't even afford a set of copies, never mind a bus trip) - I would make more events, more local at the lower end of the movement - the first one or two of each then go to the proper areas - I would then make sure we retain the area contests as the pathway to the national title, but would relegate the event in terms of deciding our league position - It is well within the capability of one person and a spreadsheet to record EVERY competition result and form the league from that - One or two judges may be wrong, one or two bands may have bad days - but relating every performance to every performance really does work.

    I suppose it could be commented that, we'd have bands choosing to enter the easiest contests... not for long! - it would all even out - the more we tried to pull the system - the more even it would become!
  13. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    And.. (in Anno Draconis style: dons flak jacket and heads for cover) - forget the golden oldies - we are already judged by the rest of the musical world to be noisy Morris Men.....

    Quick rant - Look at the long running titles in the West End or at selected Cinemas - be it "Chess", "Star Trek Seven hundred and ninety eight" - whatever - A hundred years ago - bands were actually playing this stuff!!! (EG - Gems of Sullivan etc etc)

    We have gone backwards in terms of mainstream appeal!

    Imagine (I'll talk about my own venue) a huge banner outside St George's in Bradford - "The finest brass players in the region today are performing - Hook - Star Wars - The Rocketeer" - "Clash of the Titans" etc.... whatever...

    1. Plenty to judge on
    2. Plenty to listen to
    3. (I'd like it!)
    4. The wider musical population (God forbid - even Jo Public) may even buy a ticket!

    ....And I'm so far off topic I'll now shut up!
  14. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    At the moment I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work for all sections - promotions to be decided by who qualifies, relegations to be decided by adjudicators recommendation.

    I realise there is a chance of ending up with a huge second section in one part of the country or a huge 4th section somewhere else, but at least all the bands will have been judged by the same people and placed in their section based on that - so that each section will have a roughly comparable standard across the country, something I'm not sure we have now. At the moment it's almost as though each area has a "quota" of bands to fill in each section.

    This system would do away with the complaints we heard about the 2nd section in Darlington in 2006 which only had (from memory) 5 bands. The complaint (which I'm not sure I agree with) was that to qualify the winners only had to beat 4 other bands, whereas bands in bigger regions had to beat 12 or more. Under my system, even if you're the only band in your section at the area, you still have to be one of the best 15 or 16 bands that the judges have heard at that level countrywide to be picked for the finals.

    Oddbod, I think I might be the one flinging flak your way if I have to play a selection from Chess, or the soundtrack from Hook, as a testpiece! :eek: I'm really not convinced that playing "easier" or more populist music will pack 'em in at a brass band contest; we need to face the fact that ours is a minority hobby, a niche market. You are never going to pull hordes of passers-by off the Bradford streets to listen to 60-70 brass bands no matter what we play. We should play stuff that interests and excites us, rather than trying to attract this mythical mass audience - it doesn't exist for our hobby, I'm afraid.

    Bearing in mind that what bands were playing at contests in the late 19th Century were selections and overtures from reasonably contemporary classical music (anything up to 60, 70 years old), a more accurate comparison might be to suggest that we should play selections from Peter Grimes, or Jenufa, or Belshazzar's Feast. Personally I'd rather have a newly commissioned piece every time, but I know that's perhaps not a majority view!
  15. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    I'd guess that the issue with a newly commissioned piece every year (for every section) would be solely down to lack of budget.
  16. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Here are my problems with the suggestions:

    1. The ranking system is essentially based on the fact that the more contests you do the better your position. However more contests a) cost more and b) take up valuable time preparing for that I know a lot of bands would rather be performing concerts and earning money. So many bands I know of will do the regional contest and 1 or 2 local contests with perhaps a Pontins or Butlins in there. But why should they be penalised?
    You all seem to be people that are serious contests bandsmen, whereby contesting is the be all and end all of playing in a brass band. What you risk doing by such radical changes is alienating a large number of bands/players who are in it for the fun of playing, not only contesting.

    2. For Andy's suggestion of 4 judges judging accross the whole section, and then picking the 16 best, you lose out on regional representation/rivalry; you assume that it'll be easy for the adjudicators to remember the 1st weekends bands and compare them subjectively against the 10th weekends bands; and, you will also get bands avoiding the first few weeks of contests, to have that little more time to prepare.
    And what about the results - surely the most enjoyable or nervey time during contest day is waiting for the results; it is why we are there. Are you proposing scrapping these and only having results at the end of the period.

    3. You also forget the main reason we do it - the social side. I love going to the areas because I can catch up with friends from all the local bands I've helped out/played for. I can also network, build up connections for future bands I could play for, or extend my list of deps available. Take away the regional aspect of the contesting and you take away the practicality of making these contacts - why would I need to network with players who live hundreds of miles away and how many of them am I likely to know if I've never played in a band in that area.

    I think it is a great idea that you are trying to think of alternative ways to the contests, and perhaps some good suggestions will come out of it, but I fear most of these suggestions will benefit the richer/more serious bands, and create a divide in banding which may ultimately lead to more people leaving bands altogether.

    (Takes his own flak jacket and runs)
  17. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I'm far from a traditionalist, but this is the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard!

    Band's travelling half way across the country, wasting money, to play to empty halls because their own supporters can't make the trip and all having to take Monday off work because they'll get back at 3 am? And all this based on a flawed rankings system? The line up for the Royal Albert Hall finals seems to be pretty good under the current system I think! :-?
  18. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    And another thing - thinking about the recent debate on the welsh regional thread, about the number of bands from North Wales who have been forced to pack in competing in the regionals because of the cost of travelling. It was suggested that, as they are nearer to Blackpool, they should (as historically) compete in the North-West. But they don't want to, they are Welsh Bands, and they want to represent Wales - it would also restrict their chances of getting into the Europeans.
  19. AlanGiff

    AlanGiff New Member

    but to ensure a fair spread, bands would have to travel (big deal).

    Yes it would be. I'm a 4th Section Band, we've qualified for Harrogate for the send time in 2 year, last year it cost us £4000 with coach and hotel bills, the regionals cost us the entry fee. If my regional was not in my region and we qualified that would be £8000.

    We went on a major fund raising to raise first £4000 and we didn't finish until after we'd been, "big deal", sorry but what a dumb statement.

    Why dont Football clubs move play in the Estonian or Albanian league to qualify for the Champions League, its the same scenario.
  20. Lawrencediana

    Lawrencediana Member

    And here's me thinking the world had got mad enough. Obviously not. Perhaps you could come up with a better way of bankrupting all the bands in the uk. There is a little point of green economics here as well, please forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't the main issue of the day stopping people from needless travel. Me thinks you need a lie down in a darkened room and stop taking what your obviously on.:frown:

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