Questions re recruiting for the top grade bands

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by kiwiinoz, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

    Here is a question from someone who is real curious. How do the Big bands, ie Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Brighouse and others actually recruit players??

    I had the priviledge of seeing Grimethorpe here in Australia last month, (wow) and am real curious as to how they actually do it. I mean, the top cornet (Fountain) was just amazing but so was their last top man. Where did he go and why, and do the big boys just head hunt who they want to make the move. Looking at the DVD of their performances over the past few years, there seems to be a huge turn over in players.

    I know this is a stupid thread to start, but for someone who will never be much of a player, I am just curious!!

  2. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    Attached Files:

  3. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    From my (admittedly limited) experience of friends of mine who've been approached by top bands, it seems to be that a player is contacted personally either to fill a gap created by a recent departure or occasionally to replace a current incumbent. (Top banding is a cut-throat business sometimes.)

    Generally speaking, the top bands don't often advertise because they don't often have to. I'm going to skip over any financial inducements, (which are a point of debate in themselves) but obviously the prestige of the chair is a big factor, since a player with any ambition at all would have to have a very good reason to turn down a top band with a big name.

    That said though, you'd be surprised how often they are turned down by players. As discussed in another thread, it's not just about ability - the level of time and effort commitment to (for example) Black Dyke's annual programme of concerts and contests is tremendous - and some absolutely cracking players simply don't want that. I could name two (but of course I won't) just this year who've decided not to join some of the best bands in yorkshire for personal/family reasons - and both have been met with the utmost respect over their respective decisions.
  4. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

    Thanks so much to you and Bessa for your reply. It would be a HUGE commitment to be in one of these bands. I guess this is just life for some people, the lucky few who can commit to such!! Can someone tell me where the previous top chair at Grimepthorpe went??

    Cheers from Qld:clap:
  5. I think Rob Westacott is now playing sop at Brighouse?
  6. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    That was the last I heard as well. Could be a good move for him as he's always had a great top register, a sweet sound and cojones of steel....

    (Although I still think you've gotta be a little bit bonkers to play sop. ;) )
  7. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I had the pleasure of depping at B&R on Saturday evening in Bury, we ran out the Red Priest to finish the night off, Mr Westacott is settling very well in to the
    highest of seats from what I heard!

    On the OP question, word of mouth and personal approach is usually the way, If you see an Ad from a top band then you know they're struggling to fill the gap
    with a suitable player. I've been asked about joining "top" bands, but my commitment to conducting comes first, It's usually a quiet word by a member or two after
    you've been helping them out . . . .
  8. bannisa

    bannisa Member

    Hi there,

    First of all, many thanks for coming to see us play in Australia. We had an amazing time in your wonderful country, fantastic audiences in fantastic venues and the warmest of welcomes.

    I can't speak for any other bands but here at Grimethorpe the schedule is punishing. This year we will do 56 concert appearances (including our Australian tour which was 11 of those) plus our recording and contest commitments. We also rehearse twice a week every week unless we have had a Sunday gig in which case we take the Monday night off. As has been mentioned by other posters, there are some fine players who do not want or cannot committ to this level of activity.

    Our Musical Director (currently Brian Grant) is primarily responsible for ensuring that we have the best possible players in each position. This means considering ability, personality and level of commitment. If there is a vacancy then the MD would approach potential players that may fit and there is an audition process. If it is to fill a "non" vacancy then the MD would express his desire to change a player and may propose a suggested alternative. Of course, this could be a delicate situation but speaking personally I know that my position is only safe at Grimethorpe based on my last performance - and that's how it should be at this level. I have heard people describe the replacement of players as cut throat but generally if the MD feels that somebody is not performing well enough they may choose to discuss it to give the opportunity to put things right. It is very rare that somebody is simply "fired" without any explanation or having had an inkling that they were under pressure. Discussions are generally held with the section principal prior to making a decision but the MD is employed to make these decisions.

    There does tend to be a regular turnover in most busy bands, people come and go but the basic philosophy is that the band as an organisation should be bigger than any individual - we are merely custodians of this part of the band's history.

    I am sure bands approach recruitment in many different ways. For example, when I joined B&R on sop back in 1990, I was approached by a member of the B&R committe to do a gig and then another gig and then was offered the seat(which I gratefully accepted). I was also fired as principal cornet of Ransomes a few years later by phone with no reasons given - hey ho that's life.

    Even playing at this level it must be remembered that we are all amateur musicians just the same as players in a 4th section band. We all have jobs away from band and family commitments just like everybody else.

    I feel very fortunate to be able to be a member of Grimethorpe Colliery band. One day, I may be replaced or decide that the level of activity is too much but at the moment it's a blast, I get to play in the best venues, making great music with a great set of lads - I even got to tour Australia and that's not bad for a part time amateur!

    Finally, I'm glad that you enjoyed James Fountain's playing. He only joined us a few weeks before Australia and he is doing an amazing job. And I can confirm that Rob Westacott is indeed playing soprano at B&R and I'm sure he'll be great there too.

    Best Regards

    Andrew Bannister
    Assistant Principal Cornet
    Grimethorpe Colliery Band
  9. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

    Firstly, thank so much for taking the time to respond to me question. It was a wonderful surprise. And thanks for explaining things for me, a humble C grade cornet player. Really really enjoyed your visit and your efforts as asst principle cornet, it was not unnoticed how busy you were. I cant recall seeing you having a break so hats off to you mate. Kind regards and thanks so much for your visit, it was an honour to hear your band.