Now Pennine have folded, who's next?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ericthered, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. ericthered

    ericthered Member

    It is very sad to hear that Pennine Brass have decided to call it a day but after the demise of Sellers International Band last year and now Pennine (both Huddersfield bands) the question "Who's next?" rears its ugly head.

    Is it due to the number of brass players at Huddersfield Uni. I don't know but there used to be a lot and good players too. I'm sure the players there now are just as good but have the numbers dropped?

    Is it due to the monopolisation of the area...very doubtful for anyone outside of Black Dyke, Grimey or Brighouse to lift the Yorkshire title next year...or is it due to too many bands not enough players?

    Any ideas guys? This is more a why and who question. Surely banding cannot be struggling so much. Although Yorkshire seems to have more bands per square mile than pubs which band could be next?
  2. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    I tend to not have such a pessimistic view of banding - of course bands will fold - they always have done...and even if there is an increase of this occurance, then there will still always be bands. Where there are players who want to be in a band...there will be a band!


    Bad news but let s hope some of the players from Pennine join other local bands who are in dire need of good players.
  4. funnythingthat

    funnythingthat New Member

    I think another top Yorkshire band may be in the do do after the finals. The rumour is that the female top man is packing in. Shame that.
  5. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    Pure **** stirring. Get a ****** life.
  6. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I tend to agree with that comment.

    1st post made by funnythingthat - and we're now watching this user.
  7. andyfake

    andyfake Member

    I think we're now(?!) starting to pay the price for years of under-investment in schools and, to a lesser extent, by bands themselves.

    I was very fortunate: seven years of free lessons at school from one of the top cornet players around, a school band of 50+ brass players, access to fairly reasonable local bands in which achieved to gain "adult" playing experience. Of the players I grew up with, a reasonable number pop up from time to time around the country, playing at a good level and I myself have enjoyed 30+ years of good "amateur" banding, i.e. mainly 1st-3rd Section, but with forays above and below that too. All of this through state schooling, no further formal studies in music than O level and grade 6, no "National Youth" aspirations or anything like that. I reckon up and down the country there's a large "rump" of 30-, 40-and 50-somethings with similar stories.

    However, what's coming up after us? Sure, there are some amazing young players out there and if they stick with it they should easily find their way to the top level. Organisations like the NYBGB, Yorkshire Youth Brass and so on ensure that not only are the top bands nurturing these kids, but they know who they are too. How many "other" youngsters below this level are going to stay in banding though? Teaching in schools (but not as a music teacher), the number of real high-flyers I see seems to be ever dwindling. Lessons have to be paid for, which will put some off straight away and the majority of those who carry on seem to get to about Grade 5, then go to University and leave playing just as something they did at school. I hear of very few true "brass bands" in schools - perhaps they're seen as secondary to wind bands, even here in Yorkshire, and having a bit of a "brass ensemble" is not necessarily going to introduce kids to the wider world of banding as we know it.

    Outside of schools, my own band is still scratching around for a quality principal cornet player and, having played recently with three "higher" bands, I found the same story - gaps galore, particularly in the "young, up and coming superstar" department.

    The very top bands will usually survive - lots of people want to play for them and they are on a par (in terms of talent if not pay) with professional ensembles. So they attract teachers, students etc for whom music really can be a "way of life". The circumstances surrounding Sellers' demise are apparently complicated, not really known fully outside the organisation and so the preceding comments don't really apply to them. I can't see Dyke going under any time soon, though, and Grimey even survived Thatcher.

    Many 3rd & 4th (and some 2nd) Section bands are also pretty safe - they operate junior bands and can feed into the senior band without compromising the standard too much. At 1st and Champ section level, it becomes a bit more difficult: even with a junior band (and there are some excellent ones - eg Skelmanthorpe) it's difficult to feed players in directly and so many of these bands don't attempt to run a training band. I feel this is a great shame (particularly if a band got new instruments from the lottery "to release the old ones for young players" - but thats a whole other topic!). Even if a band's junior players end up leaving to go join a local 2nd/3rd section band, isn't there a chance that this might improve them to the point where they want to come back? Isn't it more important just to swell the overall pool of players?

    Sellers grew out of a student band (Huddersfield Technical College), Pennine out of a community need to give young players somewhere to play at a good standard. They had a sufficient pool of players available to get going and then progress to a high standard. I just can't see that happening again unless it was basically at the expense of another band. If Pennine have gone, it will be interesting to hear opinions why.

    I've offered a lot of (fairly gloomy) observations here and not many answers (that's why I do so in a discussion forum). However, for what it's worth, here are some suggestions, some of which I am aware some bands already do very well:

    Schoolchildren have more and more "experiences" available - if brass bands want to recruit young people they need to get into schools and find them. Offer workshops, support for ensembles, joint concerts, anything which makes them more acessible and attractive. (The army do this very well and, OK, they're full time pros, but we can at least try).

    Accept that all players start as beginners and that it is all our responsibilities to help train them. If you expect to sign up-and-coming players from "lower" bands, make sure you're putting something back in, in the form of training players for them. Either help out a local band's junior section or set up your own training band.

    We need to stop being isolationist and/or parochial. Players move on. Accept it. Plan for the future, work with bands around you and make sure that one band's progress isn't another band's death sentence. Bands can go through ups and downs, but too many seem to go to nothing.

    All sounds very idealistic, but if we're not careful in 50-100 years there'll just be "village" bands growing old together and "elite" bands of professional musicians who perform the "old style brass band test pieces" occasionally for posterity.

    Off soapbox now - I'm off home to practise and hope my very enjoyable level of banding survives!

  8. eanto

    eanto Member

    Pretty spot on I reckon. I also had the opportunity for free school lessons with borrowed instrument; only managed one lesson though! Wish this school policy had continued.
  9. themusicalrentboy

    themusicalrentboy Active Member

    I was lucky to find Foss Dyke when I did as they were the only band around the Newark area that was prepared to take a gob-smacked youngster and develop them. I wouldn't say I was a superstar by any means, but I am quite good for my age and I have a lot to thank Foss Dyke for - especially giving me the opportunity to sit Principal at 16!

    Andy - I agree completely about getting into local schools. Although, there is the problem is that kids now are taught that brass bands are an 'old mans' movement and joining one is a a dead cert dead end.

    The mentality of teaching needs to be changed ever so slightly to make sure all options of music are encouraged, not just orchestral and military style bands.
  10. emziesonic

    emziesonic Member

    To be honest even though there may be one or two band who have thrown the towel in which is a big shame but you have to look around and see how many good things are happening to the brass band movement!
  11. brassintheed

    brassintheed Member

    I agree that it's a shame that Pennine have had to call it a day. They were a young vibrant band who really had a sense of where they were going. You would imagine that this was the sort of band who could battle against the tide. But life is extremely tough in top level banding at the moment.

    I have known several members of Pennine band (current and past) who I've always had a lot of time for, and as a member of Stocksbridge Band, there's been several occasions when Pennine and ourselves have locked horns at contests. And local rivalry is always good for upping your game.

    I hope that the remaining players find themselves new bands easily. And obviously any who wish to have a blow at Stocksbridge would be very welcome. That may sound a little like jumping in someone's grave, but if we can keep people with bands to go to, and at the same time bolster our own bands from the same fate then the offer has to be given at times like this.

    Edward Knowles
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  12. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I can only go on the statements that have been printed in the online media but doesn't this sound like a band who were prepared to just throw in the towel rather than drop through the sections to find their level. If so then that is a sad state of affairs.
  13. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    That's such sad news. I had the opportunity to conduct Pennine in rehearsal not so long ago and they had some great players and a tremendous spirit in the bandroom. I've admired their approach and their many successes over the last few years.

    I hope that they all those players manage to find positions in good bands and don't drift out of playing altogether.

  14. Willie Webster

    Willie Webster New Member

    Pennine Brass

    John. Pennine haven't just thrown in the towel, you wouldn't know though would you?
    I for one wasn't prepared to find 'my own level'
    My own level is top section and no, I don't want to play in the 3rd or 4th section but the reasons are nothing to do with that.
    Sometimes people should think what they're typing before their comments appear and make them look stupid.

    ....... and replying to the earlier post about Hudds university. For some reason Pennine have never had many players from here throughout the nine and a half years we have been going (gone)



    I couldn't agree more with andyfake. This is a direct result of a withdrawal of funding for music in schools around 20 years ago. And now we're paying the price. This will definately happen to more bands, especially in the current climate, with sponsors pulling out because of financial difficulties. Also, the 'playstation generation' aren't taking up brass playing anymore - to their thinking, 'if it can't be mastered in 2 hours, it's too much like hard work!'

    And I also think its a shame about Pennine - again this is can be attributed to the lack of players around. I don't think they jacked it in because of not wishing to go down a section, I truly believe that its because of the lack of players coming through the door. There are only a couple of 'elite' bands who can count themselves fortunate to have a full committed team at every rehearsal, and I certainly don't see any bands around Huddersfield who have players queuing up to play anymore.

    The one positive out of this is that, like when Sellers folded last year, some of the other local bands will benefit from the now bandless players...
  16. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I'm sorry if my comments make me appear stupid. I can assure you I am not. As I said I can only go on whats been reported. If there is a more complex reason for the sudden demise of an otherwise successful and progressive band then please enlighten us otherwise it leaves the field open for all the rumour mongers to start spreading their own pet theories.

    From my own experience, my own band lost two thirds of its players back in the nineties due to a disagreement. Over the next few years that band dropped from Championship section right down to 4th. They subsequently returned to the 1st section through the hard work and dedication of people who were determined that no matter what, the band would survive. This experience colours my judgement whenever I learn of a band tht has folded. We could easily have gone the same way but we chose not too.
  17. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    This is sad news indeed. In reply to Mr. Fake's post,

    I feel as tho I see and hear of plenty of players at youth band level, they don't come through to the senior bands in enough numbers, I think there may be a reason for this. I could be wrong of course!

    When our youth bands have players reaching 15/16 years of age they should be encouraged to take up a seat in a local senior band (Contesting or otherwise). I wonder if when players stay with a youth band only up-until the start of uni they maybe miss out on some of the more social side of banding and bandroom high-jinx. they begin to associate the parties/socialising with uni and possibly work, and still maybe think of the band as part of the youth band/school/authority type situation. If youth bands encouraged the players around 16/17 years to move to playing in a senior band the players might be bitten by the banding pug that would carry them through uni and onwards.

    As a result, the youth bands might feel that the standards will drop as their best players move on earlier. I suspect this may have something to do with why we don't see many younger players coming to our bands already.

    Tough question but if find a answer maybe we'll see more players coming all the way through the system in future.

    just a thought!
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  18. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Ditto !

    I can't think of anything useful to add Andy, you've said it all.
    - Wilkie
  19. This is indeed a shame.

    One can't help thinking that there needs to be a change in some aspects of our movement for more people to be attracted - or less, less people put off.

    In fairness there is huge investment into education with music - but it will be at least five years before this starts to become apparent in banding.

    However, there are aspects of our 'movement' that will definitely put people off - hence the demise of so many bands - some top section - some a little further down.

    Maybe attitudes should change.

    Sure there's a lot of good stuff happening out there - plenty of bad news though, plenty.
  20. great shame, some very memorable performances in some of the big contests in their time, and like sellers will be missed

    did things slowly start to go downhill after ian porthouse left after such a successful time with the band?, it must have been quite a change after the band had been under his direction for so long