Too many Bands???

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by nickcornock, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. nickcornock

    nickcornock Member

    Am I right thinking there are too many bands in the South that are suffering with lack of players?
    I don't know whether attitudes towards banding are different down here because of the way of life particularly around the Home counties.
    I know people from my band work in London and find it difficult attending on a regular basis because their jobs prevent it due to commuting etc.
    We are lucky to have a contingent of players from the military (myself included) but again these guys have the same problem with being away on tour etc particularly during the summer. We went to our area contest this year with more or less a scratch band because some of our key players were on duties.
    Maybe we should address this by amalgamating with other bands with the same problem and go for quality rather than quantity?. :idea:
  2. :( It's not just the South, the North East have a major shortage of players too unfortunately!!!

    :( :( :( :( :( :(
  3. euphemism

    euphemism Member

    I think there is a general shortage of players - I'm playing with 4 different bands over the next few days - some 'cause of holidays - some 'cause they don't have a full complement - but even getting a dep in can be difficult........and I'm getting like Satchmo = can't say nnnnooo without it turning into yes....
  4. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    I think the situation in the south is getting worse every year. I could name about 3-4 bands who are struggling, however there is this mentality of "soldiering on" with only a few players just to keep the name alive. Another problem is that there are getting less and less junior bands for youngsters to go into, this coupled with the decline (extinction?) of music tuition in schools has meant that only a trickle of younger players come through. I applaud the efforts of Egham band for setting up a training school to try and get yongsters involved, it would be great if every band could do this, however it requires a) someone willing to do the training, b) the finances to buy the extra instruments and music required, c) somewhere to hold it, those bands with their own bandrooms are VERY fortunate indeed.
  5. Highams

    Highams Member

    Yes, there is definatley a shortage here in London, and combining two bands is not always the answer viz; Capitol Brass, First City etc.

    The question is why ? and the answer from most people I know is contesting !

    I know at least 10 players who would play in brass bands if they did enjoyable concerts and not just contesting.
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I agree that a properly planned approach to concerts may encourage players to get involved, but I know of one band where a charity fund-raising concert was arranged, with all the band apparently in support. When it came down to it, they had to bring in so many deps that most of the proceeds were swallowed up in expenses. Also, attendances dropped off when they were not actually preparing for a contest.
  7. Dan

    Dan Member

    That is a chicken - egg situation. I have been in struggling bands that have had to turn down jobs and concerts because the players were just not available. Once a band starts struggling for players it is difficult to attract new people who will stick with the band.

    Commitment is also a big factor. I have just had a 4 1/2 year break from playing due to travelling and moving around the South East a number of times since coming home (bar playing in two contests in 2000). It took me a long time to make the decision to go back to playing as I was unsure if I could commit after such a long break. Glad I did, but it has to be all or nothing.

    ps. point those 10 players in our direction!!!! :lol:
  8. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    I think many bands go in cycles: famine of players to plenty.

    Does it depend on the MD too? and the music they choose - I think it may do.

    We actually have merged 2 bands in south bucks (High Wycombe and Marlow) and it seems to have been a "kick" to get past the critical number at which bands attract more players.

    Contesting: I wonder if people don't like doing them because of the commitment they entail (extra practices, personal practice...). However, I personally find playing the same piece week in week out preparing for a contest somewhat dull (particularly listening to the xxxx section being "taught" to play their part!).

    (looking forward to Friday - first contest(s) I've played in in YEARS - and I get to rehearse a march I don't know just the once, which is "spot on"!!!)
  9. horn1

    horn1 Member

    I agree with the cycle idea, I've played for many bands that this has happened too.
    Those of you in the south will be glad to know that the shortage of players isn't confined to the south. Even up here in the North West there are player shortages. We've consistantly had a number of seats vacant for the past couple of years. Luckily band personel were happy to change instruments to redeem these problems. There seems to be a terminal shortage of trombone players, with basses and horns not too far behind.
    Our band is very lucky because we have both a band club and a youth band. When the main band went through serious difficulties a couple of years ago the youth band helped pull us round. Now the youth band has been having difficulties but is on the up at the moment.
    As a music teacher I have to agree with the fact that not enough kids are learning, music centres are often expensive because they rely on students buying their own instruments and schools can't afford to buy these instruments. In this case I think it's down to local bands to try to fill this gap.
  10. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    The cycle thing is definately true of our band. I played from 83-84 when the band were languishing at the bottom of the 4th section with hardly any players.

    I came back again in 1999 when the band was in the 2nd section. We are now in he 1st (hopefully on our way to the champs!) and have full attendances at most rehearsals (as well as 4 youth bands in the city).
  11. Dan

    Dan Member

    It does seem that there is a shortage of players but too many bands. There are a two main reasons for this. Firstly, new bands formed from existing bands where players break away as a result of rifts. And secondly new bands formed of semi-professional players from London Music Colleges. They are created for the sole purpose of contesting in the Areas only.

    The contest organisers do not help the problem of these new semi-professional bands forming as they place them above other bands in high sections. Two bands in the L&SC have recently been placed in the first section completely skipping out the fourth, third and second sections. I think this is grossly unfair to the bands that have been going for many years - sometimes struggling along the way. One of these bands played for the first time in the area a couple of years ago, came first or second, qualified for the finals and then were immediately promoted to the Championship section.

    I recently saw an article about the problems of too many bands contesting. It suggested that there may be another overhaul of the sytem, similiar to when the first section was created back in the early 1990's. I am unsure of the finer details of the article but do remember reading that it may come to the point that all bands would be regraded. Does anone else remeber seeing this article?
  12. blondie

    blondie Member

    Certainly in the Shropshire area we do struggle for players for contesting bands, primarily cornets. I don't think this is a cycle but as Nick and Mike have mentioned but players work and home lives affected by the busy lives we al lead.

    Shropshire has a very good county-wide music service where there is a great emphasis put on supplying peripatetic teachers to schools and colleges. This creates and sustains many players, but has one major drawback. The 'peri's' then get the pick of the students and re-compliment there own personal bands and that of the County School of Music with these players.

    I am always sceptical about the so-called 'poaching' of players from these groups for fear of offending music service personal i come into regular contact with through brass/trombone ensembles etc. I therefore tend not to try and recruit players from these organisations, and just hope you get people moving in to the area who wish to join a band.

    However also in our area this does not happen very often, although we've been lucky of late, you just hope to come across people like myself who want to play music every night of the week like I used to do, and that they in-turn wish to join.
  13. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Too many bands? Can there ever be such a thing? When I conducted a band in the Staines area (I left 10 years ago) our problem was one of having too many players, and having to leave people out for contests. (We didn't have any military personnel simply because they could never give the commitment we needed). At that time Staines reputedly had a huge number of registered players (since the SCABA registry is unlimited). My old band and First City Brass are no longer there, so in theory there should be more players rather than fewer. Has the situation changed so drastically in such a short time or is it that bands have become less able to keep hold of the players they have?

    I agree with my good friend Mr Highams when he writes:

    and I'm sure that a balanced programme of engagements - ie enjoyable concerts and enjoyable contests - should be a part of any band's fixture list. I'd never want to stop contesting but equally get a lot of pleasure from promoting our own concerts and seeing just how successful we can make them.

    In this part of Yorkshire players are not exactly thick on the ground and we still have to work hard in order to make the band sufficiently attractive to appeal to new players and hopefully to retain our current membership. We're quite lucky in that the bands in our immediate area are in lower sections; the excellent Tewit Youth Band is based in Harrogate and there's some great music going on in the local schools.

  14. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    To Many Bands

    I think Neil touches on a good couple of points in my experience the key issues are:-

    1. Progressiveness
    Don't live in the past relying on what youve always done, your band must progress all the time even if little by little. Find out what your players want from the band, what do they want to do, where do they want to play, how many times a week etc. I always find the better the quality of engagements you have the more players you will have. Too many times committees force things on their members they can't cope with and then complain when the band is only half full. After all your players are the most important people.

    I know of a recent occasion where a player was asked to re-consider their commitment to a band because they couldn't make one particular engagement. Having been just about 100% committed before the player has now left and the band is now worse off. How stupid is that

    2. The MD and the Music
    An enthusiastic MD willing to put a lot of effort in behind the scenes is so important and his choice of music also, in my experience players want to play new ( to them ) music on a constant basis. Our 4th section band rotates its programme of say 25 peices 50-60% each year and the players appreciate it, I may be lucky that I have a willing committee who allow me free reign to purchase of course,. but I suspect the majority of similar bands don't rotate as much, its hard work rehearsing each year but its definitely worth it.

    Merging of bands is a thorny subject but as Neil says we at Marlow and Wycombe bands did it and now we have one thriving band.

    Ian Young
  15. Big Fella

    Big Fella Member

    I must say, iIhave to disagree with StaightMute, I live in the same area as Horn 1, and we must have approx 20 bands in a 15 mile radius, a lot of these bands are, and have been struggling for players for in some cases 2-3 years and the only way they can do contests or concerts is to try to get players out of retirement, or get dep's involved.

    I think that there are a lot of local competing bands, who should look at the regular turn outs they have, and possibly think about forming a new band, with another local band that is struggling. I know that this will, and does cause friction, but if the banding world wants to carry on with the 5 sections we have, something is going to have to be done.
  16. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    ...all of which form part of the fabric of their local communities. You could use the same argument for shutting churches, pubs and post offices. But once they're gone it is so hard to get them back and we lose a little bit more of the traditions and institutions that keep our communities together.

    So many bands seem to pack up or merge because they lose sponsorship, get relegated, lose a few players or whatever but in so many cases don't appear to do very much by way of self preservation.

  17. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Being from the south-west, and moving upto the north-west for uni, I've seen a huge difference in the BB world... Banding's more popular up here than it is in the south-west- audience wise particulary I mean... but I don't agree that there are too many bands! As straightmute said, can there ever be such a thing?... the answer- of course not.
    There are about 40 bands in Cornwall alone you know!

    As with lack of players- Yes, bands have a shortage on players sometimes, but I'm sure that there are loads of people in all areas who can play brass/percussion instruments, but they probably either don't want to be involved in banding, or don't even know about banding...
    Fair play I say.
  18. nickcornock

    nickcornock Member

    I agree with whats being said regarding 'can there be such a thing as too many bands', but going back to my original point, there are too many bands struggling to stay alive.
    I also agree with 'whatsharp' on his point about there being a lack of youth bands and school bands filtering players into the BB world .
    This is also apparent in the Army as we have a shortage of recruits from all sections whether brass,woodwind or percussion, which in time is going to mean more cutbacks like in 1994 when the Army diminished its 69 bands to 29.
    The age of the 'Playstation' is taking its toll!.
  19. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I think there are other factors affecting recruitment into military bands, not least being the changes in recent years regarding medical and military training. When I played in a military band, although we were nominally classed as stretcher-bearers in time of conflict, we had to do no formal weapons or medical training, and simply had to be fit enough to be able to carry out our ceremonial duties. That was certainly the case for the Household Division bands, and I think applied to the other staff bands as well. That meant that, if you wanted to, you could think yourself divorced from the military side of things, apart from the parades and occasional visits to the batallion.

    Whilst I enjoyed my time in the forces, for a number of reasons I would not be considering such a career now, for all its undoubted musical opportunites. I would not seek to deter others, but I think everyone has to look at the overall situation, and weigh up all the pros and cons.

    Regarding the situation of bands in communities, declining numbers is something which also affects Salvation Army bands. Especially in a number of inner-city corps, as people have moved to the suburbs the number of bandsmen has declined considerably. You then have the problem of whether to continue travelling in to keep that band going, or to find a place of worship nearer your home. Even when the work is thriving in the local community, it may be that new people coming in are not interested in joining the band or songsters (choir).

    One example of this is Cambridge Heath Corps, in the East End of London, a corps whose band has a long and illustrious history. Whilst the community work in the area is thriving, with large numbers meeting for Sunday worship, the band is down to a handful of players. The solution they have come up with, and one that is proving quite successful, is to form Cambridge Heath Brass. This group supplements the permanent band, and enables them to carry out various commitments within the community and elsewhere, and is largely made up of those of us who were formerly soldiers at the corps.
  20. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    There are a lot of good points being made here why band numbers are dwindling, relegation, travelling etc, but there is also the point that people aren't enjoying it so much. Whether this is down to low numbers at rehearsals or the choice of music that is being played.

    A point has been made regarding sponsorship.

    I played with a band that had sponsorship. Rehearsal room was great, all facilities including bar was great, but I hated it.
    The reason?
    Because they had sponsorship they didnt feel the need to do "Joe public" concerts to raise money. There was no social side to it, no getting out together to raise money. This to me is not what banding is about.
    Make music, have fun.
    Perhaps if more bands tried fund raising activities it might bring more bands together.

    I have also been in 4th section bands that have no money, but try and get some people to fund raise, and they suddenly aren't so keen to be part of the band.

    Could it be that some people just want the glory without doing anything to help bands that is part of the reason why band numbers are dwindling?

    I agree with Nick to a certain point (don't faint mate)


    I thank you for listening to/reading my drivel.

    Here endeth my rant.

Share This Page