The Unsung Heroes of the Banding World

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Unsung Hero, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Unsung Hero

    Unsung Hero New Member

    How many people ever stop and think about what happens behind the scenes when they watch a brass band play at a concert or contest? Has anyone thought about the person they have left at home that night, and at least two nights that week, and during rehearsals for big concerts and contests maybe three, four or even five nights, not withstanding the travelling time taken to get to these events.

    Those with children will be ensconced in the house unable to go out without the aid of a babysitter and will find that this has happened at least 150 times within a calender year of 365 days, that is heading towards six months of the year. And what thanks do we get for this, no applause for us, nor the gratification of finding ourselves the best player or top band. The only satisfaction we get is to be proud of our loved ones and letting them do the thing that they enjoy. All we really ask for is occasionally to be relieved of our duties and for our partners to occasionally be given some time off to help with family commitments.

    Recently my partner was chastised by one of his senior players for not attending an event due to family commitments, however this was done by mobile during our own family time. To say I am angry about this is an understatement as it means that in his eyes the needs of myself and my family are not worthy of his consideration, the band is more important and my contribution to help my partner fulfil his ambitions within the band are not recognised.

    To stop more bandsmen’s relationships falling apart these instances should be taken into consideration more sensitively and although I understand the need for people to attend rehearsals regularly it is not always possible. People should be given adequate time off (even employers give there employees 4 weeks holidays a year) and when they take it they should not be criticised or made to feel guilty.

    So come on guys think about the people you or your colleagues have left behind at home and give them some credit and some TLC (and a few thank you’s wouldn’t go amiss either). We support you in your banding commitments please support us with ours and don’t come down too heavy on your colleagues when they miss the occasional job or rehearsal.

    From a Banding Unsung Hero
  2. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    I agree that the family of band members can be overlooked and I do sympathise if partners cannot for whatever reason, or do not want to be, involved in banding. It must be a nightmare at times. Yes, rehearsals can take over weeks of your life, leading up to a contest for example and I suppose until you have just pointed this out many of us will not have looked at it from this perspective! :oops: I also agree that special family occassions do sometimes have to take priority over band engagements. However, most band members are given a list of engagements well in advance, and if they are aware of a clash between family commitments and band commitments they are given plenty of warning so as to inform the relevant person in charge of their unavailability. I would never ever contact a person who has informed me of their non attendance at an engagement to 'chastise' them during that engagement. The only time I would phone and perhaps be a 'little' annoyed, is if I was not informed that they would not be attending the engagement. I perhaps would then phone just to check if everything was ok and to find out why they had not turned up. Nobody disagrees that banding is a huge commitment, not only for the band member, but also for their family and without the support of the 'Unsung Heroes' then life would be very difficult indeed. I know that each band member will have to make important decisions along the different stages of their lives. For instance, when a partner comes into their lives, changing work commitments, having children etc.

    If your post is in response to another thread that discusses commitments then please understand that the commitment that is being discussed is not just about a person having the odd rehearsal or missing the odd engagement because of a family commitment, it is more about the people who miss on a regular basis for whatever reason. In banding, this kind of commitment is no good. A band is a team situation, where your attendance is relied upon, not to just fill a seat, but to be able to perform together as a team and to improve as a team. For the morale of the band and to ensure its continuation, you must have people who are as committed as each other, otherwise the problems start.

    By the way, if your partner did indeed inform the band of their non attendance at the engagement you mentioned, then this needs addressing, and I would advise that they raise it with the committee of the band. Despite what some may think, we too are human and have families! If however, they failed to inform the band that they wouldn't be attending, then that is a different issue altogether and I can understand why the person on the other end of the phone might be very upset. It takes a lot of organising to put out a band for an engagament and can be very stressful.

    Anyway, rest assured that your point of view has been brought to the attention of many band people now, who may previously not have looked at this. I'm sure we all do of course, praise the many banding widow(er)s. :tup
  3. Unsung Hero

    Unsung Hero New Member

    Unsung Heroes

    Dear Charmed,

    What a lovely response to my 1st posting, I really agree with many of the points you have made and was a little worried about the type of response I might receive! You mentioned that "many of us will not have looked at it from this perspective!" and I'm happy that it has drawn attention to those of us who sometimes feel overlooked, but have to have just as much commitment as those of you within the band.

    Although I have never been involved in banding of any kind, I do realise how much committment is required and what is expected by the organisation and members within them. I am sure that my partner would never drop the organisation in it at the last minute and I believe he has always given them plenty of notice (apart from sudden illnesses, or working commitments etc) so that they can make alternative arrangements to cover his position.

    As a member of his band my partner is part of the commitee and takes on additional roles and responibilities apart from playing but still has occassional hassle for his rare abscences (most of which are unavoidable). As far as I know there aren't many people queing up nowadays to join bands, as there are not as many younger people taking up the relevant instruments, and therefore a little patience and restraint is required to ensure the committment of those existing bandsmen who love to play is retained.

    I understand organising engagements must be stressful and getting a full team together must sometimes be hard work, but so is listening to your partner coming back from rehearsals explaining they have once again had to 'defend' themself from a snide comment when someone won't drop an issue. Especially when you yourself have given up your night to stay at home (and may have had difficult evening yourself, unsettled kids etc) so that they can attend. After all surely your all doing it for an element of fun and the love of playing despite the committment involved.

    Your organisation sounds like a caring one which any player should expect in the 21st century, from some of the threads I have read it's a pity others don't follow your example.

    :D Thanks once again for a great reply

    Unsung Hero
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - you have every sympathy from me as well. Maybe banding needs to take a long hard look at itself and try to meet the needs of those who end up leaving the movement, not becuase of the lack of committment but the difficulty of scheduling time off for a hobby such as ours. Times and society have changed radically in the last few decades and people have to be more flexible for employment demands and also rising costs of day to day living. Bringing up a family has additional demands if the couple both have to work and childcare is sometimes awkward to get at a moment's notice ... and at a price! Banding in general should reflect this change and become a little more flexible in it's approach. I welcome your thread as it is modern reality!
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2006
  5. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I have been quite fortunate to normally play in the same band as my spouse. I can't imagine if that were not the case. It'd be bad enough to have one of us not in a band, but can you imagine couples that play in two different bands on different nights...they must never see each other!
  6. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    You're not wrong, at one time I was playing for Marple and my wife was still at Eccleston, different practice nights and all. Before a major contest I only saw her in the mornings before work, for a fortnight. However when we decided to have kids I had to give it up, it would have been impossible, and completely unfair on the children. At least now I'm only 20 mins from band and the engagements are mostly local.
  7. bigmamabadger

    bigmamabadger Active Member

    It often seems that those who make the most commitment to a band get the most stick when they are (unavoidably) absent from practice/gigs.
    My conductor does have a tendency to pick on me during practice and I once asked him why this was. He replied "Because I can. Because I know you'll actually listen to what I say and take it in. There's no point wasting time talking to the ones who won't listen".
    Not an ideal answer but I can kind of see his point. Resentment at slackers can too easily spill over onto valued members; which while it's unfair, is also human nature.
    Some kind of band/life balance has to be struck, particularly in lower section bands where people really do play for fun.
  8. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    I believe that the problems arise because of variations in individual desire. Added together, there will be some form of collective desire but I expect that any band has players who want to reach the skies and pthers who are happy plodding along as they are.

    The classic problem is when there are people missing, the conductor usually gets a bit touchy with the players there, but they of course are not the ones upon whom he should be venting his frustration. Perhaps that touchyness get transferred/ passed on to the absentees as the attendees would not have incurred the conductor's wrath if everybody was there.

    Its a team game and everybody's enjoyment is conditional upon others practising at home and regularly attending.

    I agree that some things in life are more important but I also subscribe to the theory that if you are part of something then you give it 100%. I also believe that if you want to do something badly enough you will make time for it. I know many players who if they missed rehearsal/ concert etc, I would trust their explanation without question whereas others I wouldn't believe them. If somebody does give 100% then chances are they will not regularly miss and when they do miss it will be a surprise and may attract a few comments, but that is just life and you will get criticised for any number of reasons in life generally. It happens to me and I just ignore it. If players do regularly miss then perhaps they need to assess whether they can do justice to their band mates. Of course if attendance levels meets the collective desire, then there will be a limited amount of hassle i.e. only from those with the higher desire and who will moan at others also.

    I accept that its not easy as it is such an engrossing hobby. However, it is something that each band has to deal with and of course it will vary from band to band. I also believe that the problem has been magnified because there is a shortage of players at the various levels. If you could be easily replaced, chances are you would be if you kept missing but if that is a difficult or impossible task, players will continue to get the grief.

    Just my thoughts.

  9. Unsung Hero

    Unsung Hero New Member

    I agree with iggmeister and would like my partner to give me and our child 100% of his time, but as we all know, this would be impossible, he has work, friends, hobbies, just the same as me and many other people. Why therefore do bands believe that they should be the exception to the rule, and that they should be at the top of the priority list.

    During my marriage vows we were asked to repeat the phrase "Forsaking all others" I don't remember this being followed by the words "Oh except if he is member of a brass band" Don't get me wrong I am not criticising or suggesting that what bands do and achieve is not important, and that commitiment isn't required of the members. I appreciate that bands are a team and that a certain level of commitement is required from all members (and their partners). However bands have to remember that members have also commitments to other people, be that family, work or friends, and that sometimes these things have to take priorty in their life at that time, and should feel able to explain this to other band members without fear of arguments or snide comments being made either to them or even worse behind their back !:frown:

    I know some people will disagree with these comments, but this is the reality of todays world, and it is quite possible that many bandsmen actually agree with me, but are too worried about the repercussions from their organisations to say anything.

    Unsung Hero
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2006
  10. SuperMosh

    SuperMosh New Member

    Unsung Hero sings in tune

    Not a bad way to start off on tMP!

    I play for a band, have done since I was thinner and more haired - about 17/18 years. My attitude to banding is simple:

    - When they pay me (at all) more than work, they can take priority

    As for the family thing, no contest as far as I am concerned. Experience would suggest it is those without children, partners, or work committments who moan first when people do not attend rehearsals, concerts etc.

    I love brass banding but I love a few things a bit more. In a movement where people cry it is dwindling, we are still portraying ourselves as a bit self-obsessed and frankly anal about committment. The fact I am at band when I could be at home with my family is committment enough.:mad:

  11. SuperMosh

    SuperMosh New Member

    I would also like to add these commentsdo not relate to my current band ;)
  12. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    I accept what has been said but if you read my post it should be clear that I understand that playing in band is not more important than family and other commitments.

    The point made is that some people spread themselves too thinly. How can a person in such a position do justice to everything they are a part of be that their family, band, crochet class - whatever. It is a team game and that is why there is this added pressure. If it is a hobby that no other person depends on you then that pressure just isnt there.

    The problem with playing in a band (as I said) is that it is so engrossing i.e. it takes over your life if you aren't careful. At the top end of banding obsession (for want of a better word) is needed so that the band practices regularly and (more importantly) has good practices. The best bands pride themselves on being the best that they can and producing as good a performance as they can. They may compare themselves to professional outfits e.g. orchestras, as regards the quality of their playing. However, for a professional orchestra it is their job and they get paid to play. Job is more important than hobby. Therefore, they do regularly turn up to rehearsal as its their job.

    This is no criticism of Unsunghero, (as I have no idea of family situation etc) but it may also depend upon how flexible your family is.

    I dont think 100% commitment means 100% as in never able to miss anything, ever. It cant be. Banding isn't that important. What annoys me though are those who think 100% means 50% or 60%. Thats just not being realistic.

    Good luck Unsunghero - I hope you sort it out.



    my partner and myself both play in the same band, Our first child was born 11 weeks ago and he went to his first band practise at the age of 1 week. He always goes with us and 9 times out of 10 goes off to sleep within the first 15 mins. In fact when we are at home all we have to do is put on a brass cd and he is quite happy to listen to it.
  14. TinklePipe

    TinklePipe New Member

    Nice to see your introducing him to the world of brass at such a young age...............hope your wrapping his ears up though, you don't want to damage his hearing during the fff's!

    As for the earlier threads regarding committment, I'm symapathetic to all sides of the argument families left to suffer at home and bands people being torn in two at times, however I think there's middle ground to be struck somewhere for the sake of the long term future of banding and the retention of players.

    Organisations cannot afford to isolate players by having too high an expectation regardless of where you stand in the rankings and neither can players afford to be too complacent in their approach to the levels of commitment required.However the more important issue is where do you draw the line?

    Perhaps more bands should make expectations clear at the outset (eg when recruiting) maybe including it in the band constitution? then everyone joining an organisation would know exactly where they stood and what the requirements were as an individual.

    Many of us sign up to similar terms as part of our normal working lives 'contract of employment', I know we don't all get paid for playing but if we followed the same form in the banding world then I think there would be less chance for animosity creeping in on all sides.

    Personally I don't think there's any shame in saying you have greater priorities in your life other than the band you play with (at certain times in your life) there will always be more important issues along the way (family/friends, employment, illness etc).

    From a personal perspective the most realistic approach would be not to expect everyone to always agree with the decisions you make. It's a fact of life in banding that people and organisations have different expectations, the only ones that really matter are that of the organisation your playing for (those in charge, eg the committee) and your own. As long as each party knows what the respective expectations are and you can reach some common ground then life will be much easier. Whether others agree or's a matter for them personally and if there are issues it's up to you and the individual/s to sort out.