The State of The Nations Brass Bands

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Beesa, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    There is an excellent well researched recent article on

    about the decline in numbers of Brass Bands over the past 25 years. The Figures are based on competing bands only, but they certainly give a good indication of the situation.

    Brass Bands have done quite well out of the National Lottery and I wonder if the figures would be quite a lot worse without the aid of the lottery grants.

    Personally, I think the brass band movement is quite healthy and I don't think there is anything to panic about but the figures do show a definite downward trend.

    Anyway, it's quite an interesting article and worth a read if only on the paragraphs for your own area.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Quite an interesting read, shame they tried to politicise it with the anti Thatcher parts though. Perhaps the decline in the West at Torquay is because the lower section bands are treated like an inconvenience and forced to play in that hall.
  3. bbg

    bbg Member

    Some interesting stats there.
    For an up to date "snapshot" of the situation in Scotland, have a look at the report on the SBBA website -
    This shows an overall view of competing and non competing bands in terms of numbers of bands, numbers of players involved and engagements carried out during 2007 as well as the responses to a questionnaire regarding any proposed changes to contest rules/registration etc. Note that several of the "big" boys don't feature all that much when it comes to activity / youth involvement, and indeed two of the "busiest" bands are Langholm and Moray (based in Elgin), both "non contesting" at present but with fantastic youth programmes.
  4. Al

    Al Member

    That's an interesting report.

    The article mentioned is here:
    interesting to compare with bands in my area. To be honest I always thought it was only bagpipes and haggis up there !!

    Some useful points regarding registration of members in part B which show that north of the border they are quite progressive

    The SBBA has a well organised website perhaps it could be used as a template for some of the areas that don't have a website yet (mentioning no names!) although some of the others that have got round to having a website are equally as good
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2008
  5. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    Good point. Anyone else voting for a move back to Bristol?
  6. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    I think you'll find that the Council of the WOE have increased their booking at Torquay well into the 2010's. It was mentioned in the grading tables that came out recently.

  7. Scotty

    Scotty Member

    In the past year Whitburn Band and Kingdom Brass have both started brand new youth development porgrammes which are proving successful, it will obviously take time for these youth set-ups to develop and prosper, such as Moray, Campbeltown and St Ronans have for example. Also Dalmellington Band have a fantastic Junior Band and there is a group at Kinneil aswell.

    Maybe im reading to much into your point but the 'big boys' in Scotland are doing their bit!
  8. JTKBrass

    JTKBrass Member

    Well said Scotty .. but give Brian his due, he did say 'several', not 'all'. I think one of the perceptions is youth development is a lower section thing, but I think we're both showing it can take place very successfully higher up the sections.
  9. bbg

    bbg Member

    Thanks John, I did say "several" , and was intending to make a positive point in favour of so-called "smaller"/"non-contesting" bands rather than having a go at the "big boys"! Have to work on Saturday so sadly missing the Carnegie Hall contest, so I won't be there to "defend myself" against any accusations.......have a good day and here's hoping for some silverware for the Perthshire bandroom.
  10. hughess

    hughess Member

    Think the steady decline in Welsh bands attending the area may have something to do with the contest bieng moved to Swansea.
  11. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Here we go again! :biggrin:
  12. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    I am not convinced its all to do with the Riviera Centre in Torquay. I think it has much more to do with the selection of music. I remember a few years ago the 4th section was given "Indian Summer" and the number of entrants was very high and included some bands who are never normally seen contesting. Perhaps if the pieces are perceived as relatively easy this encourages more to have a go?

    We are not going to Pontins as our conductor loathes the current test piece for our section and that is also why we have not trekked over to Torquay in November time for the last few contests there. Obviously with the Areas there is no opting out.
  13. Daniel Sheard

    Daniel Sheard Member

    Oh yes. Ridicule and jokes. Some of us think this is a serious issue.
  14. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    That's absolutely ridiculous. If the band want to go but the conductor says no because he doesn't like the test piece then I'd be inclined to tell him who signs the cheques every month.
  15. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Its ok John we are quite happy with the decision. Its only a short time after the Nationals and all the Contests can become a financial burden if we do too many and we have a car park to get finished and paid for.
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    It may be that the way it was expressed was a bit stark: surely the MD has to have a major say in what the band does, and if he is not a fan of the piece in question he may also feel that it would not be right for the band. I'm sure there would have been a little more discussion than the initial post implied.

    When I was with Coventry Festival Band the selection of the test piece was a major factor in which contests the band entered - although we still couldn't get out of the Area with "White Company" :eek:
  17. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Sorry, butt... I do like a laugh:p ...Seriously? For what it's worth, I think a North Wales based Regional Contest every third year would be fair ( based on approx. ratio of South/North bands ).
  18. hughess

    hughess Member

    Think North Wales Bands would be better of in Blackpool Again, Hour and Half down the road, Less cost and feel North Wales was Stronger in numbers when we were in the North West area.
    Maybee start another contest to sort out the European qualification,( Welsh Open) so that All the Top section bands turn up, Would be welsh open title for all other sections and find a sponsor so that the prize money is worth the risk of travelling. Alternate between Cardiff and LLandudno.

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