Should percussionists be removed

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevetrom, May 18, 2012.

  1. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Should percussionists be separated from brass players and not included in the registration system?

    Every time the test pieces are announced for the Areas or the Finals one or more section complain about too much, or too little percussion required.

    If percussionists did not have to be registered they could play with any band in any section depending on the requirements of the piece selected.
  2. Split Splat

    Split Splat Member

    Good question! :clap:
    I agree something needs to be done on this front, maybe relax the rules around borrowing players from other sections/regions/competitions.
    I know the spring festival often causes problems for bands.
    The Grand Shield test pieces often require 5 perc players per band and with 2 other contests this totals 60 bands competing on the same day requiring approx. 220 perc players across the day AND you can’t borrow players from bands in the Open
  3. DRW

    DRW New Member

    I'm a little surprised by this thread.

    I was of the understanding that bands generally struggled to get suitable percussionists as members. The original post seems to suggest that there are plenty of percussionists out there who are regular members of more than one band.

    Presumably there isn't a suggestion that there would effectively be a team of percussionists at contests that bands could augment their own players with just because the piece demands. Surely a band should contest on their own merits and if short of a percussionist or 2, so be it.
  4. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    A more salient question should potentially be "What is a reasonable number of percussionists to expect a band to be able to field at a given livel - and should this be taken into account when selecting a piece as a set work?"
  5. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Sorry if I wasn't clear, bands struggle to find percussionists, and when they do they struggle to explain why the next set test has little or nothing for them to do.

    What I was suggesting was that percussionists would be allowed to play with whatever band (or bands) needed them for a particular contest.

    What are all the 2nd section finalists doing with the percussion players they signed to play Cross Patonce?
  6. LizC

    LizC New Member

    I don't know about removing the need for registration but what would be a good idea is to have a separate percussion registration so that percussionists who also play brass can register for different bands (in different sections), in my case play percs for a higher section than I can play brass.

    However there would then need to be a change of rules disallowing brass players from playing percs as well as brass in one test piece
  7. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member


    I like the idea.
  8. DRW

    DRW New Member

    Thanks for the clarification. As you could probably tell I'm one of the 'anti bring players in just for contests' brigade so immediately thought it was concerning ringers. :)

    You raise a very good point and it is a scenario where, as you say it is difficult to justify having members that will be redundant most of the time, or at best have to share duties.

    I share Andi's view; why choose music that won't suit the majority of bands.
  9. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I think this should be explored further - Steve, I assume you will be talking to the powers that be?
  10. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    A system of registration & borrowing like SBBA have would work amazingly well, for example you could borrow 2 percussionists from any section but no more.

    Personally speaking not having to register percussion players would be a major asset for my own band, as we are in a region where players are few and far between. Again this comes back to the inflexibility of borrowing players at the areas/finals, lets move with the times people, every other contest allows for borrowed players...even the Open!

    An interesting aside to the OP, what are peoples views regarding how much notice (if that's the right word) should be taken of percussion at a contest? I'd always been led to believe that from 2nd section down over, bands aren't meant to be penailsed for lack of percussion, unless of course it has a major role in the piece (eg. Hollywood). I only ask as my band where the only one to take to the stage at the regionals without a percussionist, and this was effectively given as a reason by the judge as why we wouldn't have been placed any higher.

    Excellent suggestion from the OP though :)
  11. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I know where you're coming from, but I don't think there is necessarily a corrollation between the number of regular percussionists a band fields and the section in which it competes. There have been many instances referrred to here of lower section bands with 3 or 4 competent percussionists, totally committed to thei bands and fully involved in their concert programmes throughout the year. Equally, I'm sure we've come across top section bands who just seem to pull players in when required.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of reviewing the registration position, but I'd hate to find percussionists at any level being turned off banding because, for the however many weeks running up to a contest, there is insufficient to keep them occupied.
  12. DRW

    DRW New Member

    Why should the percussion not be considered? It's about the band's abilty to perform a particular piece. If that piece requires specific percussion, the band that achieves it should be given credit for it in the same way as any other section of the band. The argument that it's difficult to get percussionists shouldn't come into it. If a band doesn't have any cornets suitable for the front line, would we expect an adjudicator to excuse it if we contested with none?

    Is it fair to say that 3 percussionists is the norm to play a typical programme? My experience says so. Therefore, music should be chosen with this number in mind.
    I don't think any allowance should be made depending on the section; there's no reason that a 4th section band shouldn't be able to recruit 3 percussionists any less than a 1st section band.
  13. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Why not go the whole hog and stop using percussion in test pieces at all " a la olden days"........................ no perc no probs!!
  14. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    The point I was trying to raise is that I know that it has been practice to adjudicate percussion, just as any other instrument in the band. However the unwritten rule is that you don't penalise too heavily (or at all), in the lower sections, what's going on in the percussion, unless of course the percussion has an integral role in the piece (i.e. solo's, extended passages), such as in Cross Patonce, Hollywood.

    As for your other points, I believe you're wrong regarding lack of players. I take your point, but you'll always find a cornet player, most cornet players are banders, in my experience trying to get non bandsmen percussionists into the movement is very difficult. 3 percussionists probably is about right for a typical programme, and most bands could probably get 3 guests in (if needed)....but you're snookered when you can't borrow them for contesting.

    Maybe you're lucky, there must be an abundance of percussionists in your region but even when I lived in Manchester I played in bands that found it almost impossible to find players. The fact remains there aren't many players in the movement, in my area, and those who are will go to higher level bands...that makes it quite tricky to recruit.
  15. simonium

    simonium Member

    Ask the geriatrics on the music panel!
  16. DRW

    DRW New Member

    You asked for viewpoints, I didn't realise they had to be correct :)

    My point is that contests are an evaluation of the performance of a given piece of music, not of the ability to recruit. Making concessions for absence of percussion is doing the latter surely?
    The starting point for judging a contest has to be the notes on the score. If the adjudicator gives concessions for bands that haven't recruited percussions, he / she must do similar for the band that hasn't been able to recruit any e.g. trombones.

    On the day when your band gets a full percussion section and because of it you play your proudest contest performance ever, can you honestly say that you'd want the percussion to be discounted from the evaluation? Or perhaps the rules should be changed for those years? ;)

    My area doesn't have an abundance of players of any type so what we do in our band is recruit people (of which there is an abundance) and train them to be players.
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  17. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    And here we are again folks - yet again we're talking about not treating percussionists as part of a Brass Band!
    I get fed up of saying the same things in these threads, Until brass bands treat percussionists (recruitment & retention) as they do the rest of the team you'll always be talking about "us" in these sort of discussions!

    Get out there and recruit yourself a team of 3 percussionists, and then teach them the beauty of playing an old fashioned piece properly, they'll have enough to do, look at the English Folks Songs in the 4th this year (4 percussion parts played properly) . . . Don't tell me there aren't drummers out there - there are more kids taking drum lessons in school than any other instrument, get them recruited and taught the instruments of the section.

    In answer to the OP, nope, register percussionists as we do now - change the attitude many in the movement towards percussion and percussionists!!
  18. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    I still think my idea was better :cool:
  19. Nigel Brinklow

    Nigel Brinklow New Member

    Unfortunately, many younger players find traditional brass band music boring. A lot of it is written without percussion in mind and therefore there is little incentive to get as excited about it as brass players. Thankfully, brass band music is now written with percussion as an intergral component. However, the problem then arrises when we get a real mixture of pieces that are selected as set tests - especially, though not exclusive to, the lower sections. Players, are not going to hang around to play what they consider boring music [not saying they are right or wrong] for weeks on end. I like the original posters suggestion of a separate reisgration [if any is needed] for percussionists - seems a pragmatic approach to the problem.

    For contests, why not take a leaf out of the book of pipe band competitions [which is even more competative than brass band] and have a separate judge to adjudicate the percussion section. The percussion mark is added to the brass mark to give a final total and decide on the final placing. It certainly encourages good intergrated percussion teams in pipe bands and I can't think why it wouldn't work equally well for brass band contests. It creates a contest within a contest. There's nothing like healthy competition to improve standards [and attendance] and it would up the interest levels for those of us who play in the section at the back. It is very demoralising for percussionists when bands with no/limited/rubbish percussion sections still do well. The pipe band scheme would therefore reward bands with good sections by reflecting this in the overall results.
  20. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    And theres me thinking that I had joined a band and as such would be judged as part of that band. If I wanted to be judged as a seperate section I would be entering percussion only contests! I would rather play "Pentacle" five times over than end up in that sort of proposed situation. As for seperate registration,again, I joined a band and as such I'm not a "gun for hire" unless in exceptional circumstances!!!

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