The Harder Chairs to ‘fill’.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    It seems that some bands have difficulty getting Bass players, others Cornets and others again Trombone players. Perhaps those bands are victims to local shortages or perhaps the problem is more widespread. Additionally some chairs are more difficult for the players themselves to ‘fill’: I wouldn’t mind having a go at Euphonium but the skill required to play their music well is beyond what I could hope for and hence I couldn’t ‘fill’ that chair.

    So, from either a band’s or a player’s point of view what are the more difficult chairs to fill?
  2. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    This would be a hard chair to fill...

    other than the one above, my impression is that Bb bass is consistently the most difficult to fill, band by band; though, because there are so many cornet chairs, you see vacancies for cornets most frequently
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    That's my initial impression too. Thinking of the Cornets I wonder what positions are hardest to fill (Sop, Solo, Rep, 2nd, 3rd) in terms of recruitment and then who has the toughest time (Sop or Solo or Rep, etc - my guess is solo by far but ....).
  4. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Getting a good principal is very difficult indeed
    Keeping an assistant principal happy is very difficult indeed
    Third and fourth men down often have an eye on the Sop of Flugel chair, because they get tired counting bars rest or writing the bits into their parts that the 2nds and 3rds can't play
    Sop has to (metaphorically) have very big cojones, but there seem to be plenty willing to give it a go (third and fourth men down, usually)
    Rep is usually independent minded and often has an eye on a front rank, gets to sit beside the Sop and shake their head when the Sop splits the umpteenth screaming note
    2nds and 3rds are either on the way up, down, or out!
  5. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Depends a lot on the standard of the band and what it'll be happy with - finding willing 3rd cornet players can be easy, finding people who will play the whole lot, in tune, sound nice and balance up to the front row in dynamic on the other hand, not as easy as it sounds...

    Finding someone who'll have a bash at sop - not all that hard (plenty will refuse point blank though).
    Finding someone who can play it consistently, in tune, sound good and with any command of quiet dynamics and with any style on the other hand? Umm...

    Who has the hardest time?
    Admittedly biased, I'd say Sop without hesitation, and "by far".
    Wouldn't swap it for the world, but playing consistently above the stave on Sop is much harder work than playing consistently above the stave on Bb cornet. Principal has the ability to delegate and swap around parts to maintain their stamina, Sop doesn't - if it's on the part and the front row don't have it, you have no choice: you play it.

    Finding good players for any seat is hard.
  6. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Judging from the number of fatso's queuing at Butlins Burger King, there are more than a few people in banding that could easiy fill that chair.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Thanks Tom and DS some interesting thoughts.

    TL;DR = Too long, didn't read ?? (;dr)
    I'm sure you are correct that 'finding good players for any seat is hard'. Each part is important, maybe the 'end seats' more so than others but if you are judged on the whole band's sound then (IMHO) the whole of the band need to play well rather than having folk there who are mostly OK. Anyway back to the original question: The harder chairs to fill.
  8. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Perc, gota be the worst to fill. Under rated,under valued, moaned at constantly by some MD's who haven't the faintest idea what they're talking about whilst working from a score written by a "composer" who knows even less. Try filling that one! :dunno
  9. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Good topic. Around my area every band has no soprano player. Percussion is very hard to fill. Bass both Eb and Bb is not to bad although Bb a little harder to fill. There seem to be loads of cornets, horns, baritones and Euph's. Trombones are lacking a bit. These are all non contesting band I am referring to. The only contesting band local ish to us a 1st section band and they struggle with tutti and perc. I am sure there are both local and national trends.
  10. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    Willing to bet there are locals who play Eb/D or piccolo trumpet and could adapt to soprano cornet.
    Question is how you attract people like that to our world.
  11. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Looking at the last forty bands to advertise vacancies I have tried to gain some feel for the relative shortages of players by considering both the number of vacancies and an indicator of the size of ‘pool’ of players available to fill those vacancies. So, whilst there are loads of cornet vacancies there are also proportionally more cornet players available to fill them.

    The instrument vacancies that seem hardest to fill are Bb Bass, Percussion and Euphonium (in that order).

    Instrument - Vacancies - No in a Band Vacancies/ No in a Band

    Sop 3 - 1 - 3
    Cornet 26 - 9? - 3
    Bass Bb 11 - 2 - 5.5
    Percussion 10 - 2? -5
    Euphonium 8 -2 - 4
    Trombone 8 - 3 - 2.5
    Baritone 6 - 2 - 3
    Bass Eb 6 - 2 - 3
    Flugel 1 - 1 - 1
    Tenor Horn 0 - 3 - 0

    Does the difficulty rating above reflect your band's experience and/or seem a reasonable reflection of the actual situation.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  12. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Confirmation of what we already know, Bb Basses are in short supply. One is unsurprised being as this instrument requires a unique ability which very few have.
  13. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    BBb players up and down the land will be pleased with such support. If you want to be loved or needed play a BBb? ;)

    I was surprised by the high Percussianist and Euphonium vacancy levels and the low Tenor Horn level. Perhaps the sample isn't large enough at forty bands or perhaps tmp postings are not typical; do those 'findings' reflect real life and if so why the difficulties in recruitment?

    Errata for my previous post
    "Instrument - Vacancies - No in a Band Vacancies/ No in a Band"
    should have read: "Instrument - Vacancies - No in a Band - Vacancies/No in a Band"
    (No is 'short' for number).
  14. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Very good point and I would love to know how to attract such players. I know one or two very good trumpet players for example but they have absolutely no interest in the brass band movement.

    Both bands I belong to are trying to recruit percussion and this is proving difficult. Both bands can take new people in and train them up on Brass instruments to fill seats which keeps a steady flow for us however no one local we know of teaches percussion. The local schools are going to be our next step. Maybe some of the school bands could fill such positions.
  15. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Of course they will be happy, Bb bass players should be treated with the greatest of tlc. As for percussion, well some parts need at least 3, maybe even 4 to achieve the complement even down to 4th section. The problem with drummers are that they all want to be rock stars which doesnt fit with brass banding. But percs in brass bands is another thread entirely, the majority are of the opinion is that percs are an unnecessary noise in brass banding.
  16. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    The style of Brass Band music is very different to Orchestral so that might not be to the tastes of those Trumpet players. They might also have to work somewhat harder in a Brass Band as the Cornets typically carry the tune (with the Euph's) and have little time resting .... but perhaps I am being harsh.

    Percussion is difficult in that (IMHO) the music making skills of the brass player have limited overlap with percussion. OK, we can all tap out a rythm but percussianists often 'play' several instruments at once. Schools often have limited overlap with brass bands (and are happy to keep it that way) and whilst training the young is good they then dissapear off to Uni and don't return - another player lost. I can only think that bands need to look within themselves and train up their own players to be percussianists though some trial and error will be involved,
  17. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    I would disagree that schools are happy to keep limited overlap. Locally schools are keen on all extra activities and although schools concentrate more on orchestral and concert banding this is because of the wider selection of instruments generally.(3 of us in our band are secondary school teachers.) Also, reference training the young who then go off to uni, this is very often true however many like myself return to banding some years later. It is these people often playing a part keeping things current and moving. Some will play while at uni providing a service to local bands and those that may return to the area may return to the original band but regardless they have spent some time with a brass band and added hopefully something positive and learnt something.
    From my limited experience, I don't think most bands are capable of training up there own percussion unfortunately. Also, who thinks of joining a brass band to learn percussion? I suppose there could be limited success. Back to harder to fill seats. If you look at the ABRSM grades Eb Cornet and Percussion feature very low in learners taking formal grades. Maybe some correlation although I guess most people don't learn Eb cornet straight away but progress to it following on from Bb cornet.
  18. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    OK, some very fair points. Our local Secondary School used to have a great music department and was more active with the Local Community but changes in the Music Department and the School's Management Team, and to LEA Brass Tuition too, have changed much. The band I actually play in has a different local Secondary School and they too have had no success with their local School. However, I do accept that school's vary; my youngest moved school for his sixth form education and his new school was beyond excellent in all respects ........ other than putting a lot of mileage on the car.

    I would agree that youngsters can play at Uni and can return to banding after Uni, but my experience is that they almost always do not or not for many years. I was a returner in later life, in the earlier years it 'seemed' too difficult to join a band (time, money for an instrument, places to practice, then later commuting and young children, etc.) Those are just my experiences and I hope yours are better.

    Anyway having addressed your very good points perhaps it's time to get back to the main question: the hardest chairs to fill (either as a player and band manager). Possibly Euphonium I think as there's only two, the skill level required is high, the instrument is demanding and everyone hears when they make a mistake.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015

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