The British Brass Band Registry Management Group Statement

Discussion in 'Bandroom News - User Submitted' started by TheMusicMan, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    PR received from the British Brass Band Registry which we are happy to print in full...

    The British Brass Band Registry Management Group Statement

    In response to various queries in relation to recent reductions in the total number of registered contesting bands in England; The British Brass Band Registry Management Group wish to issue the attached statement, identifying some of the reasons that it considers contribute to the current situation, together with suggested changes that address the issues.

    We would be obliged if this statement could be published in its entirety and not altered in any way.

    This statement can also be viewed on the British Brass Band Registry web site

    The British Brass Band Registry.
    (“Registry Rights” assigned to The BFBB October 2001)

    The message from many English bands to the British Brass Band Registry in the early months of 2005 is loud and clear. It is becoming an increasingly difficult task to attend the Qualifying events to the National Finals. Statistical analysis of the entries over the last ten years or so appears to emphasize this message.

    The decline in entries is closely mirrored by a parallel decline in the number of bands registered with the BBBR. In simple numeric terms, the movement in England has lost sixty contesting bands within the last ten years. There have been several band mergers, bands have folded and subsequently reformed and even a small number of completely new bands have appeared. The majority of the sixty however, have simply disappeared, and the trend is firmly in the wrong direction. There has been a steady reduction of about four registered bands each year from 1996 until 2004 when a total of eighteen were lost in one year alone. This may have been a blip, but nonetheless one that we cannot afford to ignore. It is encouraging however, that the level of individual participation has increased during the same ten year period. We now have over seventeen thousand and four hundred individual players registered with the BBBR as opposed to seventeen thousand and three hundred ten years ago.

    We can deduce much from these statistics; there is a healthy individual participation but at a lower frequency. There is increased logistical difficulty in maintaining a long term contesting band. The reasons are complex, largely a result of changes in the social climate.

    The trend appears likely to continue into 2005 with little indication of an immediate upturn in fortunes. We must demonstrate flexibility and adapt to the change in climate. There are 507 bands registered in England but only 424 in this years regionals, why? Are we simply not interested or have we found the constraints too overwhelming? The BFBB/Registry will find out, we will on a national basis consult with the 83 bands to identify their individual reasons. Collectively they will display a pattern that we should use to redress the decreasing entry trend

    The long-term solution is beyond the scope of individual contests and the BBBR. It is therefore vital that we create a united movement and develop a coherent national strategy, working in partnership through national campaigns and lobbying in order to reverse the apparent decline.

    In the meantime, there is much we can do to halt what looks like self-inflicted damage to the movement.

    It has become apparent to the BBBR that a number of the band demises have in fact been self-inflicted. It is a fact that at least two bands this year look likely to fold early. The reason? Both bands for different reasons did not enter their respective regional contest. Shortly after their decision, players eager to pursue their hobby transferred registrations to other bands in order to participate in the contest. The sad result is that both bands are likely to discontinue. This is not opportunism on the part of other bands, but in some cases sheer desperation. How many more of the lost sixty have suffered the same fate?

    The cause of the problem is that the national contest rules are restrictive. Had there been a facility to incorporate these players through a regulated guest player system, the players could have helped struggling bands and it is highly probable that their existing band would not have folded, and may even have been able to enter in the first place.

    The BBBR philosophy is always to strive to deliver a quality service. This can only be achieved by delivering a service that meets the user requirements through continual user consultation in order to define our procedures. Hence we consult daily with band Contest Secretaries, have performed two national Registry Rules Ballots and as a result, the Registry system procedures and rules are defined by our users. This philosophy should be extended into the contest sphere through a formal method of full consultation, in order to deliver a total system that meets the users needs.

    A new spirit of radicalism is necessary, the registration system has recognised the experience of bands, and has reacted and adapted to assist bands to enter contests through a relaxation of its rules, but has moved as far as it can. Recognition of the difficulties is now necessary within the Nationals Rules and they should now adapt to the new climate and the two rule sets should compliment each other.

    The registry suggests that a relaxation of the contest rules should be accompanied by significant tightening of registration rules such that when a player registers to a band it should be for a minimum twelve-month period. There should be no transfer/moves within twelve months of registering to a band, and bands should then be allowed to assist one another through a regulated borrowed player system. This would help to solidify bands should they find themselves unable to enter the nationals, at the same time players would not be prohibited from participation and be free to assist other bands with less acute difficulties.

    Any tightening of registration rules in isolation would have a dramatic negative effect upon bands and subsequently the contest; therefore it must be a collective response. It is vital that bands are fully incorporated within the consultation process during any rule change process in order to define a system that meets their needs.

    These changes together would help to create an atmosphere of comradeship and encourage healthy competition, replacing the conflicts that surround us at present.

    The retrogressionists will not agree, but the choice is stark, we either adapt to the new climate or continue the course of defeatism.
  2. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I'm not sure I follow the logic of the Registry in seeing the maintenance of registered players' numbers over ten years as a good thing. There are sixty fewer bands now than in 1995, so that means there are an awful lot of bandsmen doing nothing, given that there is a limit on the number of players who can take part in a contest.

    Isn't it more likely that these 'excess' numbers are less likely to be committed bandsmen who turn up to rehearsals once/twice a week, and more likely to be that well-known small army of players who band secretaries keep on the books, to be drafted in to bolster band numbers in the weeks leading up to a contest?

    To put it another way, 17,400 registered players spread across 507 bands equals an average 34 players per band. How many bands do you know of who have 34 committed players turning up to every rehearsal? (And averages being what they are, for every band which has fewer than 34 committed players, another band must have more than that number.)

    As I say, I'm not convinced by the Registry's logic on this particular issue.
  3. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    Tam O'Shanter's Ride and Divertimento perhaps?
  4. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

    Isn't the maximum number of players a band is allowed to register 35? If so, then this is made up of the committed players plus the others who only do contests.

    On the other hand, we played Rienzi yesterday with six percussionists, plus 25 brass, so that is 31 players registered.

  5. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    12 month minimum signing period sounds ridiculous to me. If somebody moves in from outside the country, is just starting banding or is getting back into it, they have to find their perfect band on the first try or wait another 9 months or so...I think many of those people might just quit instead of waiting out the period.

    What if you're band decideds to sack you and bring somebody better in...then you can't compete for the rest of the year, because you are not allowed to transfer yet?

    I think the transfer rules are fine as they are.

    If you want to let everybody have a single "second" band that they can help (and that is the only band they can help) I might understand, but the 12 month rule is not a good idea!!
  6. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    That's my point. The registry would have good cause to be optimistic if all these people were committed bandsmen - such a situation would be indicative of a healthy band scene. But many of these numbers are, I suspect, players who are kept on the books and then 'bussed in' for the contests as required - in other words, players who have no great commitment to banding. That scenario certainly chimes with my own personal experience, and I bet I'm not the only one. And when bands have to rely on these people to get them to the contest, then I think that the Registry's optimism is far less well founded.
  7. SteveT

    SteveT Member

    Reductions in attendance

    Could someone please explain to me how tightening up registration rules and demanding a 12 month stay will help. I would have thought it would make players less likely to sign up in the first place. Having the opposite effect than that desired. (Just in case a better offer comes along). Perhaps this is cynical, but its a fact of life. If I can offer my humble opinion: -

    1. I say relax the borrowed player rules, allow more bands to compete with the same pool of players.

    2. Also, music selection, as previously alluded to, has to be much more carefully considered and offer bands a real chance to compete. Select for the average standard of bands in the relevant section.

    3. Badger goverment to give free instrumental tuition in schools at the point of use. This is what happened in 60's - 70's and was responsible for a surge in the player pool. (e.g.) 40 bands in the NW Area 4th Section in the late 80's.

    4. Encourage the funding of youth bands through lottery funding.

    5. More media coverage and reintroduction of the BBC and ITV band contests, which made a great impact and made bands cool to be involved in.

    I bet someone has more ideas than this.... but its my humble contribution.

    Stephen Tighe
  8. bigcol

    bigcol Member

    IMHO I think more people would stick in bands if the whole brass band movement wasn't governed by what happens when you play one piece at one contest once a year in front of one/two adjucators. Imagine if sport was like that?

    Why not have a league system? A certain number of contests, both set, own choice and entertainments, are notified as "area contests". Those with a higher prestige can be given double points, and the scores totted up at the end of year. Effect? More bands will attend more contests, more contests will become "important" and the whole idea of contesting is made a little more flexible and "fun".

    P.S. this isn't sour grapes - we won our section at the nationals this year. ;)
  9. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member


    Well done everyone, you've proved them right! For the first time in years, the BBBR are accepting that there is a problem and are looking at ways to improve the situation and the only response it gets is to jump straight in with all the negatives.

    There is so much positive news in that statement. i.e,

    They are offering to talk to us and use our views to improve things. It's a fairly safe bet that about 5% of bands will actually attend any meetings/consultations while the other 95% will complain about the decisions made. When are we as a movement going to stop complaining and sniping at the governing bodies and make some effort to work with them?
  10. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think the point has been brought up over and over again that many bands don't want to be forced to do more than one contest a year. This is an important view point because if you force bands to do more contests, they may just drop out.

    However, what if league tables were developed using a computer poll like BBW where your score was based on your average points gained per contest (which depended on the strength of the field and your result). That way bands that only did areas wouldn't be at a disadvantage for only doing one contest, while bands that compete more often, would be protected from that one. "dodgy" result. After the areas the top 12 bands in each region are championship, the next 15 1st, etc...
  11. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Under current rules its 40 (except in Scotland I think)
    There's bound to be a few hitches but at least they're trying to do something to change the situation and start an exchange of ideas.

    Lets face it, most of the discussions on this forum about contest/registration rules are based on people's assumptions and sometimes misconceptions about the rules, and it seems that very few of us have ever actually read the flippin' things...... at least the guys at registry know what they're talking about!

  12. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Me too, take my situation a couple of years back. I decided I wasn't enjoying playing in a struggling 4th section band, and wanted to move upwards, but there were few vacancies. I ended up going quite a distance (and cost) to find a 3rd section band who I helped out for about 6 months including the nationals, towards the wend of my time there a local vacancy came up in a 1st section band, ideal oppertunity and I was offered a place. The rules as they are allowed me to change bands 2 times in a few months, but under the new rules, as Pat said, I'd have to stick it out in a band that was too costly for me to get to. No other band would want to take me on because I'm effectively "cup-tied". If that was the case, i'd probably just quit banding altogether.
  13. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    But under the new rules your new band/s would be able to borrow you until the 12 months was up - you'd still be able to join and contest with them. Seems a bit pointless though - they might as well just let you register straight away!

    I know I've said this before in different threads, but wouldn't it be so much easier if players held their own registrations (like an id card or passport)? That way all the registration system would be there for would be to ensure bands fielded the right numbers and nobody played for loads of different bands at once.
  14. hoppiebari

    hoppiebari Member

    Let me give a practical example:
    My band were short of a player for a contest. We found a player who was willing to play,who was registered with another band but who was not a regular member of that band.
    The contest was less than 4 weeks away, so the players registration had to be cancelled and the player re registered with us in order for the player to play.
    It would have been far simpler if there was a system in place that allowed players to play with other bands when they are not required by the band they are registered with. It would also mean that a player may be more prepared to help out if they do not have to move their registration.
    Can I suggest 2 rules:

    Bands are required to pool the registrations of players not used at a contest with the registry.

    A band can use 2 players at a contest that are registered with a band in the same section where the registration has been pooled.

    Any thoughts?
  15. If bands find themselves short of players for their area contest and being as that it's the one contest of the year that it's vital for them to attend. Maybe players who have the time and enthusiasm to help out should be allowed to do so.Why not once in each area? Obviously as some are on the same day it is not physically possible. I live in the south but play in the midlands. Conductors are allowed more than one band so why not the players? Contesting is a serious business which can be fun!
  16. bigcol

    bigcol Member

    There's an idea - you can borrow for the nationals as long as it is from another area than your own. Hmmm :)
  17. sevenhelz

    sevenhelz Active Member

    i thought you were allowed to borrow up to four players from your section or below? or is that only local contests?
    i may not read the regulations, but at least i attempt to find them out ;)
  18. brass journo

    brass journo Member

    wise words!

    A great example of how this system works is the New Zealand Championships. There rules allow each band to use 2 'professional players'. Now these players can be playing with the band they are registered with as well, but can help any other band out too, as long as bands only have 2 guest players.
    A practical example is that due to work etc, not everyone can travel with us to New Zealand next week and we are short of a tuned percussionist and St. Magnus has an evil xylophone part in it. However, a tuned percussionist who is already playing in the A Grade is also helping us out in the same section, same part as one of our professional players.
    It's a great system - no band can be at an advantage over any other but you can borrow a quality player who knows the part without any hassle or major paperwork or having to regsiter players etc. In fact, looking at the rules for the NZ Championships and the way they meticulously organise their contests and keep you informed about absolutely everything, they've got this contesting and banding far more sussed than we have over here!!
  19. UncleStreaky

    UncleStreaky Member

    How about this as a recent example of getting around the rules...

    Two players left their previous band (1st section) for various reasons, won't go into them. Were without a band for a time. They signed with my lower section band to play an autumn contest and commited to playing with us for the regionals as they couldn't transfer back to previous band in time to play at regionals because of 6 month rule.

    In the mean time, their previous band submitted an appeal to BBBR to enable a transfer back within the 6 month period.:eek: Grounds for appeal were pretty week, and actually cited more reasons why the players left their original band than reasons why they should be allowed to transfer back.

    The appeal was upheld and we were the last to know! :mad: Difficult and upsetting time for everyone involved, particularly for the 2 players and for my band. In the end, the 1st section band decided not to contest anyway...:frown: [But we will be with a near full band of 23 players + 4 percussion!:clap: ]

    My point... The rules seem to be guidance only, and if you don't like them you can appeal. So changing the rules to make players stay with a band for 12 months can be easily overturned if you can be bothered to appeal.:rolleyes:

    IMHO... Appeals aside (BBBR said this was a one off case) the 12 month rule will not help bands, rather it will cause more upset. It will only mean that fewer players are available to contest. Maybe they can't play with their reg'd band because they have moved, have fallen out, been sacked or there are too many players on same instrument. Players need to be able to move freely between bands.

    My Question... What is registry system for?:confused: Is it to stop players from moving from one band to another, or is it to prevent one player from playing with more than one band at the same series of contests? I should hope it's the latter, not the former!

    An alternative suggestion... Do away with transfer process and restricting players to a band for a fixed period. Use registration cards as a passport and only allow one regional or final stamp per passport. When a player agrees to contest for a band, they could sign an entry on the card to commit to playing for a band for a specific contest and maybe need contest sec signature to release them if they change their mind and want or need to play elsewhere.

    Easy. Simple to implement. No need for costly transfers (how much do we spend on registry transfers each year?). More efficient registry system. Cards are checked thoroughly before playing at every contest, so no extra hardship there. More players free to play at contests means more contesting bands. The only real check that you need (IMHO) is to make sure that a player doesn't play in same contest series more than once, which seems to me to be the main point of registration. :tup

    Would much prefer a registration/rules system that enables people to play rather than stopping them!:)

    My band, Norfolk Wherry Brass is one of the few new bands refered to in the BBBR statement. Yes - a new band in Norfolk! We've been operating for 12 months and are about to attend our first area contest, 4th section at Stevenage. Would like to think we'll be contesting for years to come!

    Norfolk Wherry Brass

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