'snow' joke! - the ageism question.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by marksmith, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    How many people feel the victim of their age? Does ageism exist in modern banding?
    There is the old saying 'snow on the roof does not mean the fire has gone out in the hearth' but how many people believe this about players?
    I was pleased to see Lyndon Baglin back in the saddle and receiving such a warm reception, but is this the exception?
    Are we becoming a society of 'judge the book by it's cover, not it's content'?
    Comments please.
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    We most certainly are, but it's funny that you should ask this question in a brass band forum, because I happen to think that banding is one of the best examples of this NOT happening. One of the great things about a brass band in my view is that it encourages all ages groups to mix; as a result you get children and teenagers meeting, talking to and socialising with adults and specifically, older people in a way that doesn't really happen in many other hobbies - plus they get a chance to realise that some of them do actually know quite a bit about banding, and life in general. One thing I've noticed about many good brass players is that as they get older they can compensate for any deterioration in faculties by knowing from experience how to manage their resources - how to organise their breathing properly, when to snatch a rest, or ease off to get some blood back in the lips.

    Ageism alert: Of course some can be pompous old farts of the "I played this with ButtMunch Colliery at the Woodbines Invitational in 1931" persuasion, but they generally get found out ;)
  3. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Good response Andy but there are instances of ignoring the needs of the veterans.
    Solo contests are a good example. Most organisers have now dropped the 'senior' sections, instead, favouring the 'open' format.
    In my experience, this deters the over 40's from competing, as they feel that the odds are in favour of the younger competitors.
    I have competed at local contests right up to my 50's and have enjoyed the friendly rivalry shown by most younger players, alongside their undoubted respect - but usually I am alone in my age group, competing in open contests.
    I have mentioned my thoughts before on the general consensus that solo seats are for the younger generation, thus seeing a great such as Lyndon Baglin back on the scene,gives us all some hope.
  4. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    It's worth remembering that banding is a hobby and as such, the vast majority of bands are at the lower level. Contesting is not everything and we should respect that for every Black Dyke/YBS/Grimethorpe etc., there is also a little village band playing the collected works of Edrich Siebert for the Church fete.

    Music is a hobby for life, irrespective of an individual's ability. For every standard of player, there is a band to suit. A wonderful example of this might be a village band near where I live; the band officially disbanded a few years back due to lack of players, but some of the old boys get together once a month for a social evening and blow through a few tunes in the back room of the pub. To me, that's what banding is all about! :clap:

    My own Dad will be 79 this year and has only just recently put down the baton after conducting Knighton Town Silver Band. He plays with two other bands and also arranges all the music for the local Church Orchestra. My own connections with bands nowadays are as Professional Conductor, but when I retire from the day job, I will continue to be involved in bands until such time I am unable to.
  5. Starfish

    Starfish New Member

    Indirectly ageism definitely exists - I'm not playing at the moment because I get no encouragement or interest in my playing and no challenge from the music I'm given.

    There seems to be an unstated assumption in most (all?) of the bands I've played with that older players (i.e. not still at school) have achieved as much as they can, and are there simply to make up numbers whilst the younger ones learn. Bizarrely, I actually like playing and still want to improve as much as I can.

    This may sound selfish, but after years of supporting the younger members I'm keen to find a band/group that caters for my interests as well - but its hard.

    Of course youngsters need to be effectively supported as well - but surely we should consider the interests of ALL the band members?
  6. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Excellent 1st post Starfish. Welcome to the slightly surreal world of The Mouthpiece :hi
  7. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    It can also work the other way round though.

    The "Golden Oldies" refusing to listen to a younger person's view or perspective because they haven't been banding as long so "What do they know?".
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    The saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is very relevant to this discussion if you think about it! Musical performance changes with every generation and new ideas are always coming through. For me it really depends how open & flexible a person is, regardless of age. These changes don't necessarily don't have to be correct for someone to try them as time always dictates whether they become accepted & assimilated.
  9. Old Hornblower 33

    Old Hornblower 33 New Member

    No-one seems to have mentioned the growth in the number of Fellowship Bands linked to the SA.
    The Solent Area Fellowship Band has more than a few "snow-capped" members - I haven't noticed any diminution in the challenge of the music nor in the desire of everyone in the band to improve individually and collectively - in fact I have to practice daily in order to keep up! Recent concerts have elicited many comments about the beautiful sound of the band - I suspect that it reflects a collective and a musical maturity - and of course intelligent and sensible musical leadership.

    And despite more than a few of us being past the age of the free TV Licence there is far too much going on in our lives to bother about what happened in the Boer War!!!

    Age is but a number on a page! It is what comes out of the end of the bell that matters!
  10. Starfish

    Starfish New Member

    Interesting - I've never heard of a "fellowship band" before... it sounds like a lot of fun. My point was that (in my experience) bands focus very much on "bringing the youngsters along" to the exclusion of improving other (older) band members as well. Is this the norm or the exception? It would be a shame if the needs of both sets of players couldn't be accommodated in one band, but perhaps apartheid is the way forward...
  11. Old Hornblower 33

    Old Hornblower 33 New Member

    To explain Fellowship Bands - the common thread to membership is some link with the SA. Some of the band play currently in small [and somewhat larger] SA Bands - some have returned to playing after retiring from SA Bands and some are members of local churches who also had earlier links with the Army. We much treasure three of our number in their late eighties all of whom have 70 years or more playing experience. There is a sprinkling of people with contesting experience. Members come into Portsmouth - the Portsmouth Citadel church of the SA are exceedingly kind and provide a home for the band - from all parts of Hampshire and Sussex - Alton, Andover, Southampton, West Sussex and Hayling Island.

    I am not sure how many currently exist - but I know of at least 3 others.

    Rehearsals are fortnightly, and there are 4 or 5 Concerts throughout the year - with Christmas being busy with visits to Schools, a prison, a community centre and a major Carol Concert on Hayling Island.

    It is a big band - 45 or so - and we sounded better in Romsey Abbey than in a little octagonal concrete church in Alton! But as with most bands concerts are given in a variety of venues churches and schools etc. and monies are raised for various charities - something over £5000 to date.

    Members of the band pay for everything themselves, there is an occasional gift to funds following a concert, and as I said we enjoy Portsmouth Citadel's gift of the hall for rehearsals.

    The band is very well organised and well run - and as Starfish suggested - it is great fun. But the fun lies in the challenge, the good music, the friendship in the band - it is serious music making.
  12. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    One factor in the development of fellowship bands was the relaxation of rules regarding membership of Salvation Army groups and music. This has enabled the inclusion of a rather wider group of people than was previously possible, when participants had to be full members of the SA.

    There are numerous groups in operation, including Central London, South London, Bournemouth Area, Anglian, Norfolk, London Northeast, Solent Area, Yorkshire, Southern Area. Whilst the standard of playing will vary, the best are very good, with a roll call of familiar names from the past who are still enjoying their banding as much as ever.
  13. englishgill

    englishgill Member

    I seem to remember at a fairly recent entertainment contest that in our remarks we were noted as a 'more mature band' which appeared to be a criticism. Ok so we may have a few more grey haired individuals than other bands playing on the day but why should that matter and why did the adjudicator see the need to mention it? If you can play the part (and believe me they most certainly can and then some) then you can sit on the seat - especially if you are at every rehearsal!
  14. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    I suppose that closed adjudication would not make sense for an entertainment contest, so this kind of observation should be restricted to thought, rather than comment.
    However, it should not be making an ounce of difference to the result or process of adjudication, so the only purpose it serves is to highlight bias/discrimination.
    We are great at dealing with the big issues of religious/racial discrimination in Britain but when it comes down to age or weight - don't get me started!!!
  15. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I have'nt found being an old gimma a real handicap. Of course I get the mickey taken for going on about "the good old days" and having a proper covering of "snow" up top. And I take the mickey out of the "barely out of nappies" young upstarts, but it's all in good humour.

    And the bottom line is, if you can play, and you muck in and have a laugh then you are respected. I respect all who work hard at their playing (young or old) and have great mates in bands (and on tMP) of all ages.

    Long live wrinklies! (the longer the better :D)
  16. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Couldn't agree more Steve!

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