Starting a Brass Band

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ryan06, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. Ryan06

    Ryan06 Member

    I would love to start a brass band here in Calgary. We dont have any brass bands (besides the SA band that I play in) I would want this brass band to be a british-style brass band. Where do I begin? Where do I go and look around for players to join? We'd probably be small to start off but eventually hopefully grow into a 32 piece size band (thats what I'm aiming for) and of course to be the top band in Alberta.

    My family isnt giving me any support with this idea, they shot it down as soon as I said it. I've been playing since I was 5yrs old (Im 21yrs old..too young to start a band?) I've taken lots of conducting courses (Right now Im the deputy bandmaster of a Junior band whose ages range from 6-14yrs old..also an instructor for the baritone section when it's sectional practice time.), have great leadership a people person so I do know what I'm doing. Brass banding is my life pretty much!

    What do you guys think? is my family right? or Could I really make this happen? (which I want it to!) I would love to hear your thoughts about this! :)
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I don't think you are necessarily too young to start a band; however, starting a band is a massive undertaking. I think it would help if you could find several people to form a committee to split up the work.

    As far as players, you could always start poaching from wind bands (if there are any around town). The other way would to have a weekend reading day.

    I think in the past many bands in the States got started through Yamaha sponsored reading days. They would bring in Paul Droste and gather players in the area to read through new music. At the end of the weekend they'd have a concert and then a good core for a band would stick around. I think Anita Cocker-Hunt may be acting in this capacity now.

    So if you can get her or another name conductor to run a reading day that may be a good idea. You may also want to get to some of the events around North America and chat with people from the various bands.
  3. toptutti

    toptutti Member

    Good luck - keep us all informed how you are progressing
  4. Playabit

    Playabit Member

    Starting a new band is a huge task, as mentioned earlier a reading weekend would be a good start, a problem you may have is instruments they would all have to have their own at first.

    Look at the area you wish to form the band, find a suitable practice room maybe somewhere donated free like we have in a works yard so we took the name of the company as sponsors, small price to pay for the excellent rooms we have. Maybe start with a couple of players even those younger ones you teach we have some good talented palyers of around 14yrs with us thes are your future.

    Your family should be behind you when they see how committed you are good luck and keep us posted.
  5. Ryan06

    Ryan06 Member

    Thanks guys. I was talking to both my bandmasters today of the bands I play in and they are giving me lots of good support. There going to train me as well and help me get things started so I'm very happy with that.

    I'll definately keep you guys updated on how things are going.
  6. Angoose

    Angoose Member

    My band was formed in the 1970's and has recently reached first section and will be playing Circumnavigator at the NW Regionals a week today. The band was formed by about 7 guys in a front room. So, if you persist I reckon you could pull it off! :)
  7. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    First of all, good luck, its never easy starting something from nothing.

    The Edinburgh University Brass Band was formed in 2004 (on paper at least), and started concerts in late 2005 and are now well in their third year of concerts. We had something to start with - players with instruments, at the beginning it was beg, borrow or whatever from local bands, t'was alot of work, but the rewards are huge. This is the thread I started a few years back, it may or may not be of use :tup
  8. alanl58

    alanl58 Member

    We started 5 years ago as a quartet, then as a ten piece ensemble, now as an almost full band (any cornet players out there in North Cornwall to bring us up to full strength?!).

    You are never too young to start, but you need players with their own instruments, suitable music, somewhere to rehearse, and deep pockets to pay for incidentals like stand banners, formal uniforms, insurance etc. PM me for more details.

  9. MrMac

    MrMac New Member

    Hey - good luck to you :clap: . Trust me it's a great thing to do. I was part of the initial set-up at the University of Warwick which saw us build from a bunch of beery maths students having a go at ten-piece stuff for a laugh to a pretty effective set of ensembles including a full band which got to the finals in 2000. Couple of tips:

    1. It has to be fun. If it isn't you won't grow and you won't succeed. The beer was at least as important as the music in the early years for us, and if you can get the whole band socialising as a group (think: tour - camping worked great for us) all the better. If you don't drink then find another excuse to bond.

    2. It doesn't matter if you don't have all the parts covered, or if not everyone's pulling their weight musically, as long as (1) is going well. Peer pressure in a supportive, collaborative environment is immensely effective at improving standards - in a negative, accusatory environment it tears people apart. Too many top bands are like that as far as I'm concerned.

    3. Don't worry about your age or experience - I'm not a 'proper' musician (I play 2nd bari!), and hadn't ever really conducted when I took it on, and was young, and had many better players in the band than me, but you pick it up, and it's the best 'seat' in the band IMHO. Make sure you have a good top man who's prepared to tell you if you're getting it wrong (thanks Stu!), and don't take yourself too seriously - you can be sure they won't!

    4. Get the music selection right. Entertain the audience but educate them too - don't ever play anything that belongs in the 70s (Born Free, Music, Manhattan Skyline) unless you're all wearing afros and flares (and preferably the audience is too). Don't be afraid to take risks with more challenging music and don't be afraid to fail, and smile when you do, cos you will.

    Worked for us. Some of the best times I've had, and it made me a much better musician in the process. Ah - I'm getting all teary now....

  10. Ryan06

    Ryan06 Member

    Hey guys..just an update on how the band is coming along.

    So far Ive found 6 players that want to join my band.

    Bass trombone
    and 2 cornet players.

    If I play in the ensemble when we practice I'll be playing baritone. Don't really need to conduct for 6 players. Were going to get together soon to practice and discuss the future of the band and all the plans that I have. Im looking forward to it!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  11. Amy Cornet

    Amy Cornet New Member

    That sounds good, if you fly me across I'll play cornet for you!

    Good luck.
  12. Ryan06

    Ryan06 Member

    Thanks! and I'll keep your suggestion in mind. :tup
  13. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    I was over in Calgary a couple of years ago with work, nice place. Try and contact the music teachers in local schools to see if they might be interested in playing or if they have any pupils who might be interested. Make up a poster and send it to local companies to put on their noticeboard and put an add in the local paper. You never know there might be local company (like General Dynamics) that has some British employees who play. In our company there are five people who play, or someone in their family plays in brass bands and there are another two who used to play brass instruments when they were younger (that I know of). If I ever have a chance to go back to Calgary I'll get in contact and see how you are getting on.

Share This Page