Top Bands!..Time To Exercise Your Power!!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by IanHeard, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    It does`nt take too long, when looking at banding in England to realise that it is a mess!
    Too many players from our elite bands are saying the same things..too many contests with no meaning, poor prize money in relation to cost of attending and recently the subject of ever decreasing audiences at contests.
    Why can`t our top bands ever speak with one voice and tell the contest owners and administrators what THEY want.
    If ever the elite bands in this country organised themselves, the collective clout they could wield would move mountains I`m sure.
    Are they so wrapped up in their own survival, that to join forces with a contest rival for the greater good is that unthinkable?
    Perhaps the BFBB could be the vehicle for a forum of top bands, a forum that could instigate real change.
    Grimey`s comments re. the BFBB a few weeks back suggest that they view the BFBB as something more than an organiser of contests.
    I am aware that messrs Evans and Snell tried something similiar a few years back without success, perhaps the time is right now.
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Are you really suggesting a separate organisation exclusively for 'Top' bands?

    Who decides what constitutes a top band?

    What would they do with this clout?

    No one makes bands enter contestes (well sponsers might) so they don't have to do every contest going (and not all do).

    A contest for the greater good, it's accled the areas wherey ALL bands are invited not just the elite.
  3. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's likely to be a reference to "Top Brass" that was started in the 80s....never really went anywhere AFAIK although I've still got some of the letter headed correspondence my Dad sent / received during that time....

    I also seem to remember it wasn't anything to do with elitism - it's just that the perception at that time was that if you were going to influence the big players such as the large music festivals, the BBC, ITV and the Radio stations the 'clout' as you put it had to come from the more famous least part of the rationale was to try and gain wider acceptance in a more serious market....dunno if contesting was ever mentioned.
  4. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    Banding as we know it is dying on its ****, it won`t be long before some Area contests become competitively irrelevant, it was widely reported this year that the standard of some Championship bands are way below what is required.
    The real top bands in this country are bandings "crown jewels" and as such they need to be looked after and preserved and put at the centre of all that we do, the rest of us can just follow I`m afraid.
    They are the only ones with the power(if they only but knew it!) to put bums on seats.
    If the top bands are not happy with the status quo, then they must be listened to, or they themselves must be willing to tell us why they are not happy.
    I think we need to contemplate that the Area contest at Championship level is becoming untenable and perhaps the RAH final should be run along the same lines as the British Open.
  5. Dago

    Dago Member

    Nonsense prevails once more. Banding is not dying on its (feet?), its merely leaner and fitter and playing to a standard never dreamt of a few decades ago. Championship bands are playing pieces that are phenomenally difficult and most bands make a good show of them. As to preserving the "crown jewels", where do you think top bands get their players? THey have to be nurtured and bred in the lower sections - ITS THEM WE NEED TO PRESERVE.

    Top band have no more power than anyone else. Several attempts have been made to have a championship cartel but the top bands wont work together long enough to have any effect. The area contests seem quite effective to me, the only area at risk is the North East with dwindling bands but still operate efficiently enough.

    No real point running the RAH as the Open - there are two many contests the same anyway!

  6. barrytone

    barrytone Member

    Define a top band, are we talking bands like Dyke, Brighouse, Grimethorpe, Leyland and Fodens? or do you allow bands like Polysteel, Scottish Co-op, Cory and Desford into the mix.

    Why are area contests becoming irrelevant? Even in the Yorkshire area where people claim to be able to predict the finishing order before the event, the result often throws up surprises. Maybe Yorkshire does have the strongest championship section in the country, but this is largely due to historical and generic reasons. Yorkshire was/is a highly industrialised area and it was in the mills, factories and mines that works bands were located. Lancashire is a similar case in point with their motor and factory industries.

    The National Championships are run like the British Open but instead of qualification being via the Spring Festival and by invitiation, it's done by region. How else would every region be represented fairly? The British Open is supposed for the best best bands in the country and therefore only bands who meet their strict criteria are invited or qualify via the Grand Shield. I think it's only fair that every championship section band in the country has a right to compete within it's designated area to gain a place in the National Finals in the RAH.

    I cannot understand why the actions of any championship section band would help another band recruit players? I play in Yorkshire and my band are trying to recruit players, I cannot honestly say that whatever actions are taken by bands like Brighouse, Grimethorpe or Black Dyke will help us fill our band.

    Maybe the Championship section bands do or should lead by example but lets remember that the brass band movement as a whole is reliant on the junior and lower section bands to provide the championship section players of tomorrow. Maybe the views and opinions of all bands should be taken into account as regards the supposed demise of the movement and what measures can be taken to help us all.
  7. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    This need to specifically ID the top bands is missing the point really, we all know who they are and more importantly they know who they are..why name them?
    I will concede that the Yorkshire area is the most "viable" of the area top sections but look around the country and trust me (or 4barsrest!) it is not a rosy picture.
    As regards banding being "leaner and fitter" than before, Mr DAGO you are an optimist bordering on the delusional!
    Bands playing to a higher standard than a few decades ago?...yes, but what about the numbers of bands playing to the standard of just ten years ago? emphatic no I`m afraid!
    I firmly belive that if we get the top section contesting scene sorted, the rest will sort itself out naturally.
    A banding "super league" encompassing our elite bands may be the answer, the area heats could then regrade all bands not included and concentrate on sections 1-4, with the 1st section national champs gaining entry to super league with automatic entry to the RAH,Open and English National.
    Time to think out of the box!
  8. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Fully agree with this post - but especially the last two paragraphs. We're in the lucky position of having an almost full compliment now - but that's soley down to our hard-work and has nothing to do with anything anyone else has done - whatever section they might be in. We've seen several players go to Championship Section bands over the years - some right to the very elite - and I know of several other bands local to me who have done the same. Sure, the "crown jewels" are the Dykes and Brighouses, but the future of our movement is in the youth and lower sections.

    In my opinion the top few bands have always had a bigger say in things than the rank and file - the situation does seem to be getting better, but the it's still largely the same. I understand the problems some of the elite few have with "Contest Congestion", but for 99% of banders playing at those contests is a far-off dream. If anything, the sheer number of top contests now is helping to keep the interest of our future players within banding. It does nothing to recuit new players, but its now much easier to go and experience what Dyke really sound like live in a contest situation. Its a great way to inspire players - particularly the up-and-coming ones and this is something we definitely want to do with our recent influx of mid-teenage players. The fact we can pick and choose which contest we go to has to be a good thing and those elite bands we here today will (hopefully) reap the benefits in 3-5-7 years when our players move on the music collages, or just get good enough to play for them.

    By all means give the bands a voice, but why be elitest about it? Every organisation in our movement can contribute to it's future, so why exclude 95% of them to favour the top 5% who get all the publicity anyway?
  9. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    I would disagree
    difficult = notes per second? or Musically demanding? I think the latter is majorly overlooked.
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Second Woodenflugel's point. However much they like to think so, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelski etc., do not dictate the future of football. It's the junior clubs, schools teams, academies that nurture the talent before the big boys will even look at them. Banding is going through a tepid patch, but (sorry Kirmat, yes there is life outside bands) so is all music making in schools. If the kids are not encouraged, then they don't feed into local bands, who, in turn, feed into the better bands.

    Since central funding was taken away from music education and given directly to the schools, there has been a marked decrease in the quality AND quantity of players coming through school and youth orchestras/bands. Although nobody appeared to notice at the time, we are now seeing a marked reduction in the number of quality musicians entering music college and university. I think that this a direct fallout from the decisions made in education 10-15 years ago.

    It's all very well proposing a 'champions league' of bands, but we should ignore the grass roots at our peril!
  11. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    And a lot of them are wrong :pig :wink:
  12. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Absolutely correct Duncan.

    However everybody is given a voice whether it be via their own band, their own local Association right up to the BFBB

    The problem as I see it is this: You read on here and other forums, in the banding press etc many peoples excellent and well thought out arguements as to how banding should move forward in the future.

    However at bands many people do not want to be on the committee. People do not want to be involved with Local Associations or even the BFBB. The usual reason given is they do not have the time or whats the point, nothing ever changes

    The time: Well thats a difficult one, there is only 24 hours in a day and I appreciate we all lead busy lives. Members of all local associations and the BFBB etc. all probably felt they did not have the time, but they found it and banding would be in a far worse state if they had not.

    The point: The point is nothing ever will change if some of the most vocal and dynamic ideas are only voiced on internet forums! If you feel strongly, speak to the powers that be. Look out for when elections are held and put yourself forward. Unless new blood puts itself up for election or involvement in any organisation, the organisation stagnates. Otherwise in years to come the only posts will be 'see I told you it would all go wrong!'
  13. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    To use a sporting example of the "elite" taking charge and moving things forward, the FA Premier League is now the single most successful sporting league in the world. The top clubs removed themselves from the constraints of the Football League and under the umbrella of the FA they now run things via a commitee made up from the clubs themselves.
    The clubs had the power to do this because they were the "product" and nothing could happen without their say so.
    Why don`t the top bands perhaps under the auspices of the BFBB do something similiar and force Kapitol and the other owners of our blue chip contests around the table.
  14. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Agreed The FA Premier League is the most succesful sporting league in the world. But at what cost to the game as a whole?

    It should not be the top bands getting contest organisors round the table it should be ALL bands.
  15. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    Is`nt the Championship the 4th or 5th most successful league in the world, does`nt seem to be too much cost?
    The irony for me is that you think we`re in a healthy situation now!

    Nice idea but a romantic one in my view, we don`t do that sort of thing very well in british banding...too much self righteous indignation when a contentious issue is raised, this forum is testament to that!
    We need steely-eyed band managers with a bit of bottle from our top bands to sort this mess out!
  16. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    But surely you can't apply a sporting analogy here? The two things are totally different. The Premier League is professional - in fact football right down to quite humble levels has a degree of professionalism involved. Banding is amateur right up to the very top level. Also kids want to play football and it is supported by schools and government initiatives, its our national game, part of the national psyche. With the best will in the world banding these days doesn't apply to any of that list. Its like comparing apples and pears and I don't think taking a "well it worked for them" attitude is very constructive.

    Our hobby is beleagured enough without creating more rifts and reasons to resent other bands - which surely setting up a forum for the very elite bands is bound to do. If we're to move forward as a movement then people involved in banding at all ends of the spectrum need to accept that we all have an equally valid voice.
  17. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Where have I said we are in a healthy situation. I have stated only that people should step forward with their ideas instead of voicing them on here.

    As for the last sentence that is an insult to anybody involved in running a band. Why would a band manager from a 4th section band be any less 'steely eyed' than that of a top section.

    Your idea would create a massive gulf. The minority would be dictating to the majority. The top section bands need progression amongst the lower section bands so they continue the conveyor belt of players to sustain them.

    The movement has to move together as a whole not just on the direction of those at the top layer.
  18. Cantonian

    Cantonian Active Member

    As much as I love banding and as much as I don't want to rain on the parade we have to realise that we are in a 'niche market'. We cannot compare even our best bands to the Manchester Utd., Chelsea etc premiership giants. In this country perhaps we need to compare ourselves to a sport such as Basketball which like banding has a number of elite teams and lots of grassroots teams. It is also played in some schools. However how many people can name the elite teams (in this country) as it is a minority sport.

    Top bands! Time to exercise your power!!
    What power?
  19. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    Come on!
    Where better than this forum to discuss such matters?

    Self-righteous indignation I`m afraid!
  20. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I think if you'd have said "as well as", rather than "instead of" everyone would be in agreement!

    Good point there.

    One of the other things which is apparent is that this thread has concentrated to a large extent on the area of contesting, particularly when discussing the "elite" who can put "bums on seats". When it comes to concert performances, there have been many instances quoted on here where bands of all levels have been able to draw excellent audiences, whilst there are other references to top bands finding only a handful turning up.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of bands working together to get things done, and there are plenty of examples of this working well in other countries, but it must run from top to bottom if it is to be effective.

    Equally, there is talk about the "top" bands setting up a sort of "Champions' League", but recent experience would lead one to suspect that there are those bands at the highest level who would still prefer to carry on with their own - often quite innovative - work.

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