The BBC & Brass

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by dyl, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    Yes, that old chestnut again! ;)

    Trawling through the new BBC Fame Academy Bursary site, I came across the application for 11-15 year olds to apply for help towards purchasing a new instrument.

    On page 2 of the application, isn't it nice to see brass instruments and brass playing listed so prominently in their instrument & musical style listings?

    I would have expected 'Brass' or 'Brass Bands' to be featured in there somewhere, wouldn't you? Or are we that low down their list of 'cool' that they just didn't bother? Don't get me wrong, I realise that the opportunity is still there for our youngsters to apply (for this worthwhile bursary) - but it just got to me slightly that once again, brass playing seems to be classed as 'other' again!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2007
  2. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Careful, or I'll be harping on about my BBC / Classic FM / A N Other demographics again :hammer

    You're quite right though - it is fairly narrow minded considering it's got the broad classifications for nearly everything else. Looking at that list of genres, though, it looks like the section headers for the CD section of Borders...interestingly enough, the only brass band CDs I've ever seen in there were in the Easy Listening section :rolleyes:
  3. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Does anyone really think there are more people participating in Country & Western music than in Brass music in the UK? Sure there may be more people who listen to this genre, but participating... naaah!

    The BBC really has lost touch.
  4. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I don't appreciate that comment ;-)

    Seriously, I know it's impossible to make an all inclusive list, but the fact that there are at least 600 odd secular bands in the UK (e.g. people that are sticking with their instrument into adulthood), I'm a bit surprised as well.
  5. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    That's especially interesting as one of their recent bursary winners (Dan Powell) plays tenor horn, and was at the time, and is now, a player who is mostly "doing his stuff" with brass bands. :rolleyes:
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    It certainly seems a very arbitary list, as it doesn't even list flute or clarinet, surely still the most played of all wind instruments by youngsters.
  7. andreab

    andreab Member

    I don't think it really matters. Two players from our band received bursaries, one in 2005 then another in 2006. I think they look at each individual on their own merits. Our players know what instruments they play and in what genre, they don't need to pick from a list! More importantly they need to demonstrate their commitment to music and show a need for an instrument.

    I have more of an issue with the size of the bursary. You can probably get a very good flute or electric guitar for £1200, but it won't go far if you want a big-ish brass instrument.
  8. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    If you read my original post properly, that wasn't the issue - my gripe was to do with how high brass instruments and brass playing appear to be on the BBC's list of popularity. Nothing at all to do with the actual bursaries themselves or the relative chances brass players have of winning them. First impressions count for lots - and my first impression when looking at their list was 'what about brass?'
  9. andreab

    andreab Member

    Hi Dyl,
    Yes, I did read your original post properly. It gave the impression that you feel the BBC is discriminating against brass band players, and I was trying to say that from our band's experience, I don't feel that they do.

    Now, if you think that by omitting a number of brass instruments from the list, or not mentioning brass bands anywhere will put our players off applying, then that is an issue that you should address. Perhaps a letter to the BBC will help?

    Perhaps someone from will also address the issue that violas, cellos, string basses and lap steel guitars aren't mentioned, and someone from will point out that there are no flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassons, wind bands or military bands listed.

    Incidentally, question 3 asks what musical style do you work in, not what kind of musical group do you work in. Question 2a and 3a give plenty of opportunity to describe what 'other' style or instrument you play. From our experience (2 bursaries won in the last 2 years) this appears to provide benefits for brass band players, who can tick a number of boxes (film music, classical, folk, musical theatre etc) as well as writing about brass band playing.

    Good luck in your application!;) (What kind of horn can you get for £1200?)

  10. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    I already have done. Not that I expect it to make any difference.

    Perhaps they will - they'd need to set up the sites first. However, I don't think we'll ever get to see a basson on the list anyway. ;)

    True - but then the above instruments you've mentioned (most of them anyway) can easily tick the 'classical' option - where's the corresponding option for brass bands? My point is that brass playing and brass performing, as far as the BBC appear to be concerned, is more and more being forced into the 'other' camp.

    I'm not aged between 11 & 15, but thanks anyway.
  11. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Ok, I know I'll be hauled over the coals for this, but maybe brass bands AREN'T cool? If you ask the average 15-year-old what's cool and what's not, I don't think bands would even come into the equation. We live in our own little musical cocoon and enjoy it emmensely, but, let's be honest, it's pretty strange to anybody from the outside world. In the general run of things, us banders probably rank alongside trainspotting, tiddlywinks, star trek conventions, etc. And then we act all surprised when we're not deemed as being quite so important as we think we are.

    I'm not knocking brass bands; I've been a bander all my life, but I am saying that, even within the confines of music education, banding comes very low down. I teach low brass at Anglia Ruskin University and Colchester Institute. Both institutions used to have a very fine reputation for turning out good orchestral/jazz/band players. Now they are overrun with hairy guitarists and drummers. We are in the minority, I'm afraid, and we can but fight our corner, but I can't see the BBC commissioning a new series of 'Brass Band Idol', can you?
  12. JDH

    JDH Member

    To list every instrument would make a very long list. Maybe they should be more generic - brass (including trumpet and trombone), instead of listing just those two.

    However Brass Band from the list of styles is certainly an omission which should be corrected. I notice Wind Band is also missing.
  13. brassyboy

    brassyboy Member

    Interesting and I see the point that outside of Brass Banders very few people seem to care about bands, we do not have a mass audience! The question is not 'is the BBC wrong in not making Brass a priority' for clearly as Duncan says for most people it is not. Rather it is how do we raise the profile of brass beyond our existing supporters and how can get it seen in a positive way by more people so that it becomes a priority? OK we have all played in a supermarket at christmas or a local fayre but does that in its self make a statement about how brass is valued? Does playing in a supermarket appeal to a youth market! Maybe we should be looking at showcasing Brass in other ways, high profile events with other music forms intended to attract and get brass bands seen by a more diverse audience?

    If the demand from the young and the public is not there, then not only will the BBC not prioritise it but brass bands will just die out!

    Maybe the BBC can then make a documentry about the death of the Brass Band!

    I hope not!

  14. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Perhaps someone should organise a bi of market reasearch?

    Ask a statistically significant cross section of the population to name as many genres of music as they can without any prompting and see where on the list we might be illuminating.
  15. brassyboy

    brassyboy Member

    I agree with Keith research is a positive step and would help us keep the movement alive. As long as we talk amoungst ourselves we will only hear what we think ourselves.

    I believe a major research project should be run on brass bands! Working with us but run independently from us maybe the Arts Council could fund it.

    In Serbia Brass is cool! in India Brass is Cool! in the USA Brass is Cool! and in all these areas brass is growing! What is happening here any idea?
  16. Andy Moore

    Andy Moore Member

    I don't really see the point in your complaint. They didn't completely exclude brass instruments from their list, and didn't include instruments like clarinets, flutes, etc. If anything it picks out obscure intruments like turntables, I assume to make it clear that it really means any instrument. Ok, maybe they should really have put Brass Bands down as a style of music but again we aren't the only ones not listed.
    I'd be more worried if players from brass bands weren't picked to win them, which isn't the case.
  17. SuperMosh

    SuperMosh New Member

    I am only speculating, but is this list reflective of previous demand? For instance, did last year's bursaries attract very few brass instrument applications?

    Maybe this is just a simple issue of demand or lack of. If more people applied for this (encouraged by us older banders) then the shiny suited red bull pony tailed execs at Auntie would no doubt notice this and give brass more prominence.

    Are we, as a movement, guilty of sitting in a corner with a do not disturb sign on our necks then moaning when people don't talk to us?

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