need help for Project...!!!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by leisa, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. leisa

    leisa Active Member


    I am doin a project on the History of Brass Band contests, am following one particular band to a contest soon, but I was thinking of focusing on why people do contests whether it is to improve your playing, for the social side, or just cos your band does it or whatever. Was also gonna speak a bit about rivalry at contests etc...

    So i need as many points of view as possible

    - Why do u do contests??

    - Is your band in rivalry with any other band, if yes explain why u think that is??

    Any other general comments would be appriciated!!!

    Thanking you xx
  2. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    i've got a book that'll help you, i'll photo copy relevant parts for you and bring it on sunday
  3. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    ooo ta chick!!
  4. bassmittens

    bassmittens Member

    Hi there,

    Would recommened you contact or PM Griffin (sop at Hade edge) he did a similar study a couple of years ago; he should be able to point you in the direction of his resources- think he even passed too!!

    Good luck
  5. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I enjoy contesting because yes it can help towards improvement of my playing and I like the challenge of working on a piece and getting it upto a good level of performance within a deadline.

    Rivalry between my band and another. Well I know Avonbank are always out to try and beat up which causes a little bit of rivalry on contest day. Why? Because we are a better band than them and it is always nice to beat a band locally who are of a higher standard

    Socially contest are good because you can bet your life you will see someone there who you haven't seen for ages and catch up on old times
  6. I guess I contest because the band does. I don't hate it but do get nervous. The worst is hanging around registration waiting to go on. When I'm ready I just want to get on with it, not wait for 20mins in a 'holding' room.
    I go to the occasional contest without playing if I think I might meet people to catch up with them and hear a higher section band.
  7. Daisy Duck

    Daisy Duck Member

    The band I play with does 2 local contests a year (only one this year though as Folkestone was cancelled). Both contests are free choice, so we can choose what test piece we play. We're not all out to win, although when we won last year, that was fab! We go into contests trying to improve our own playing and give the best performance we can.
    We have some friendly local rivalry with LGB Brass. This is because they are the nearest band to us geographically and are also very similar to us standard-wise.
  8. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    these are great thanks, need as many peoples opinions as poss so keep em comin!!
  9. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Nice idea. Could send you my whole 10,000 chapter on the subject ;-) but where would the fun be in that. Have to give you something to work on!!!

    To answer your questions, first of all personal then general in bullit points

    1) I don't particularly like contesting but realise that to play in a band with a high standard a player has to realise that they are there to play with others who may play because of contests.

    2) Contests are a bit of a "macho" event. My band is better than your band attitudes which certain individuals sprout amuses me greatly. The rivalry means less these days since the brass band movement as a whole (to Championship or "elite" bands in particular) do not hold a central position in communities as they once did before the wars.

    3) Rivalries are different also because, if you go to the band archive in Salford or indeed in Leyland you will see in old Bandsmen and in old British Open Championship programmes the players' adresses are printed. If you look at these then you will see that many if not all the players lived in the same village/town, often on the same street. There is one programme where 6 players from Fodens lived on the same one and the same is true of many other bands. Since players lived in the same village as the band it meant more to local participants, but today there are more "musicking commuters" who live outside the area, therefore diluting the meaning to the participants. In Championship bands players are usually signed as students, who in big university areas, will know other players in their rival bands. Whilst wanting "bragging" rights it does not really have the same intensity as those experienced by previous generation.

    4) When I first joined the band I found contests scary and enjoyed every one, especially winning so many too!! However over time and the realisation that at the end of the day it is a month of rehearsing that is judged by 2 people in accordance with their opinion. So through experience the contests get, in my opinion, "boring and predictable".

    5) Contest repertoire is "reactionary". "Contemporary music" (stylistically rather than temporal) is often diluted into more recognised styles since audiences are of a certain type in contesting i.e. the same people go to the same contests at the same venue often on the same date at the same time and watch the same bands year in and year out. This making contests a "ritual" (Read Victor Turner "Ritual Processes" book and Cottrell "Music Making in London" and Ruth Finnegan's book about banding in Milton Keynes) that develops music that tenders to a specific banding specialist rather than a broader general public (other than own choice contests such as Brass in Concert). So the music has an importance on the enjoyment.

    6) The social aspect is the most important. The "banding together" in the build up to a contest performance. The tension when a player is struggling, the relief on the stage when he has a blinder. The getting drunk after and bemoaning the result and abilities of the elderly adjudicators. Reading the often misleading (and taken for granted or as gospel) comments by the media.

    7) If you want to theory about contesting and why players do it find a book by Ruth Finnegan (lecturer at the Open University) called Music Making in an English Town. It will help you loads.

    8) Rivalries are also set up by historic performance contexts i.e. Black Dyke and B+R etc have established status and prestige by performing well and winning events over a long period. This history of success therefore gives those "elite" bands an identity which is connected with success. Therefore players want to play for these bands and the best players are "chosen" and thus perpetuate their elite status and the contest results. If this was not the case then more bands would win the biggest contests and that is how we have a monopoly (in the Championship section) on the bands that win the contests. As with all things, monopoly is never good.

    9) The issue of improvement is essentially a Victorian concept or ethos that has been inculcated (sociological term referring to a process repeated and enforced over time) for generations of players. However at the beginning bands were created....blah Herbert or Newsome.....blah give the work force a group activity outside of the work place to socialise and bond (and keep their spirits up) by giving them goals. First it was just playing together, hence the reed and brass bands (more can be explained from the bands pre 1800). Then contests came about and structured the movement to an extent and then emplyers urged bands to compete and win (for the firm and area). Since then generations have been brainwashed to think that there is a two level importance to playing the contest and the concert. The former are now taken as being the performance context that develops a player and pushes their technique to the limit and the later are there to get money for the band and play a standard repertoire (to keep the ol' folks happy) and be good, but not perfect. Strange that you practice for weeks in intense rehearsals to perform to a half empty hall who just want the favourite bands to win?? Why do it? Whilst playing to your very best should be the primary focus of concerts, since you should be trying to impress the general public, not officionados with their short scores. How many concert audience members do you see with short scores?? Are they enjoyig the event less because they don't read the dots? After all, players these days, and I have seen it in all bands I have played for, been associated with (however tenious) have taken the appreciation of a concert audience member with a smile and a "thank you" but goes in through one ear and out the other. However, in contests they pay attention to the comments of people on a performance and take what they say more seriously. A perverse way of looking at gratification since some people at the contests are there to see their favourite bands and their players.

    10) How many players remember the contest when they come between 6th and 13th in an 18 band contest? (other than when someone drops a mute or percussionist keels over and puts his head through a timp skin or conductor falls off stage etc.) Coming last or winning that's different. How many remember a concert? Ask people, if you do 30 concerts a year and 5 contests for 10 years, which context would you remember the best, the concert or the contests. Obviously contests, because there is less of them. However how many average results contest do they remember? Do they remember what the piece was for an average results contest? Do they remember the music for a contest they won? More questionnaires needed Leisa???? ;-)

    11) Contests and the self importance of the results of these contests have taken bands (elite ones anyway (but not all)) out of their social origins in the community and placed them in a social network of their own design. The contest web, or how the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu would define as "field" (find the definition in main library floor 2 in Hudds uni in a book called Sociology in Question or a book by Richard Jenkins called Pierre Bouirdieu which has the definition on page 1 or 2!!) The brass band field is therefore a complex web or forces that struggle to maintain their existence with the help of their own actions (results, reputation, status, prestige etc) and the results of others. We should be like Black Dyke because "they win everything", so you then follow the prototype and try and do what they do (hope that makes sense!!) Blah blah maggot embalmers band play in that, that, that and that contest, so we should compete in that, that and that and that contest. Therefore creating a network of responses and consequent reactions all happening away from the wider community therefore diluting the influence of the contest to non-participants even further.

    There is a load more things that become apparent from contest participation and history if you look i.e. adjudication, influence of the draw etc. The boring ol geezers who would like to keep banding as a bit of a Victoriana Museum culture than something vibrant and going places, i.e if it ain't fixed attitude which effects music, the adjudication, adjudicators, the draw, the format of the contest and the perception of those with perspective (from "outside" the movement) as non-believers or people who do not "understand" being a bander.

    So many issues that influence players, yet so little space and words to write them.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2006
  10. MickM

    MickM Member

    Flippin eck Richard, were you bored this morning? :biggrin:

    Good luck Leisa with you project! ;)
  11. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    Richard when you told me you'd written an essay i dont think you meant it literally. Theres just short of 1500 words there!!!!
  12. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    Cheers Mick! jesus richard can i just submit that post please?? i could just add to it to make it 5000 wrds.:clap: think i owe u another drink there!
  13. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Mr Morris, you know me. Just had to comment on the contesting and rivalries thing, especially when I have been preparing a conference paper on the subject! My little time I spent on it didn't really seem like 1500 words. Dear me Leisa I seem to have done your essay for you, I think a few beers may be in order, perhaps on Sunday lol
  14. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    lol wasnt done purposely then? ok i might be able to stretch to ONE drink i did buy u one last week as well and i am a poor student! :(
  15. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Another aspect of contesting history is to look at what benefits early sponsors had for having a successful band. Why would they go to lengths to hire the best players and strive for fame? It is no surprise that factory, mill or mining bands dominate contest wins when you consider that the company name and brand being talked about is a guaranteed method for successful marketing and publicity.
  16. lottie4744

    lottie4744 Member

    I think it's definately an answer of each to their own.
    I generally only do go to contests because I'm playing at them, but if there's a particular contest I want to go to because of the standard or because I've got mates who are playing i'll go.
    This year I went to the English Nationals (but didn't listen to any bands)- I went for the social side and because it was close to home. And went to the Open mainly for the social side, but did listen to a few bands.
    I've gone off the idea of going to contests for the social side now, like last weekend at Pontins, I'm usually always there without fail, this year I travelled down on the sunday morning, got to Pontins for 1pm and left at 4.30pm purely because it's not something that interests me anymore.
  17. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    Why do u do contests??

    I enjoy contesting and the preparation in terms of the challenge for the band. I think it does improve the standard of playing if the right piece is on the stands. I think it is rewarding in terms of the of the team effort when the band gives a good performance on the day (whatever the result). You also cannot beat that 'adrenalin buzz if you do win! I also enjoy the social side of banding. As I have played in a couple of different areas the national contests give me a chance to catch up with old friends.
  18. si sourtone

    si sourtone New Member

    Can't say I've read all the thread but have to agree with the previous post on this, it gives a band a goal and thus improves the band as a whole whilst at the same time gives individuals the chance to catch up with friends, have a few shandys and be saddo's for the day and talk bands!

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