Training Bands

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by jpbray, Sep 7, 2004.

  1. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    Banding like all other voluntary organisations is cyclical. When a band is on the up and things are going well, should a band then start looking to establishing a training band or look to bolster up what it already has.
  2. Good question. I'd love to be in a position to start up a training band (not that the main band doesn't have a lot more learning and improving to do but when do we never!) but I suppose time constraints and senior players availability come into play. Anyone got any ideas/theories about the best way to do this?
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    A training /jinior band can only be a great addition to ANY band whatever its circumstances. It does however come with its own problems.

    We are a 1st Section band with a Junior band and a Taining band and have noticed the following :-

    1. What do you do with 'spare' instruments ? If these are given to junior band members what happens if a new player for the main band needs an instrument ?

    2. If the main band have a contest which conflicts with a junior band job what does the conductor of the junior band (also a player on the main band) do ?

    3. What do you do with players who have out-grown the junior band but are not good enough (or no spaces available) for the main band ?
  4. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member

    Can you define a training band for me? Who has one?
  5. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Well for us :-

    Training Band is for absolute beginners (almost entirely aged 9-11)

    Junior Band is MOSTLY made up of kids aged 12-16 but with occasional older (sometimes many many years older) members

    Senior Band is almost entirely made up of overweight alcaholics !
  6. TuTuKu

    TuTuKu Active Member

    Aye, we have a training band for the very young kids, and a Junior Band for 11-15 ish again, like stevetrom, with a few adults who are "junior" players and a Senior Band Which contains everyone good enough to play for it.

    We have the same conductor for all 3 so never have any problems with clashing engagements. The three bands work very closely with one another so that the junior and senior bands are rarely depleted in numbers. However we have problems of our own:

    - The senior band only contains 8 or 9 players that do not take any part in the Junior Band, the older juniors, people aged 16-19 who have moved out of the junior band are always asked to return to help out at the junior's engagements as many of the kids don't have the stamina to last a full job.

    - As most of the senior band consists of "home-grown" players that have moved up through the junior bands, we lose all our best players when they move away to university. This means that the standard of the Senior Band never really improves.

    I don't feel that there's much we can do about the latter without changing the whole set up of the band and attracting more adults to come (which there are a shrtage of in the area).

    To answer the original question (!) i do think Training & Junior bands are a good idea as they always guarantee that the senior band is full.

    I believe that sustainability is the key to a band's long term sucess

    Edit: Getting rid of the typos!
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2004
  7. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    It doesn't matter how big or small your training/junior band is, you should always look to have one.

    You should plan to keep older instruments specifically for them to use - when you replace worn out ones, have them reconditioned so that kids can use them.

    Form a good relationship with local schools, that's your best source of new players. Don't worry if one or two get poached by other local bands, try to keep them happy so that they will want to continue with you. You will always lose a few but it's not important in the great scheme of things.

    Make sure you have a good supply of main band players to help with training and help to keep interest by allowing the younger players to come and sit in on your rehearsals. (You'll have to mind your language, but it's a small price to pay :) )
  8. stephen2001

    stephen2001 Member

    If there is the demand in the local area from kids who want to learn, then it is worth it in the long run.
    In Whitwell Band, I'd estimate that under 20s outnumber everyone else by 2 to 1 and a lot of them have come up through the junior band.
    In my opinion, it is the best way for kids to learn how to play in an ensemble, but without the pressure of high-profile concerts and contests. If you can create a fun atmosphere where they feel comfortable in asking for help and play stuff that they know and is at their ability, it improves their musicianship no end.
    They also can help provide a little more income to the band by taking on small jobs such as an outdoor concert for a village fair or for collecting at Xmas. In those situations, the public are much more inclined to donate to sweet-looking children than a mob of adults!!
  9. Despot

    Despot Member

    Start it asap!!

    Ok things are going well now, but you don't know what the future will bring. With junior bands there's a time delay - it'll take a few years for the young players to come through. If you wait for the bad times, it'll be too late.

    At the moment you probably have high numbers in your senior band, so there's bound to be a few enthusiastic members that will help. Or hire a teacher! For percussion, we have an professional instructor come to the bandroom and uses our facilities, but it's the kids parents, not the band who pays his fees.

    We have a young band, and it's great really! The kids are developing quickly, and give them a 10 min spot in some of your concerts, and you'll never have an empty seat in the house again!

    One down side though, you need plenty of instruments to ensure enough get through. 5 or 6 instruments are not enough. Especially in the first year, there will
    be a big fallout. We find on average up to 2/3's, so if you want say 10 beginners left after 1 year, you need about 20 instruments. That's not as bad as it sounds. Junior bands have hoardes of enthusiastic parents willing to run out and raise money for the band! Charge them all a fee as well, and it'll pay for itself!

    We have 35 beginners and are taking on more in October.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2004
  10. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I believe a training band is vital for the survival of the main band, you need that constant supply of new players to replace any that leave for whatever reason. If you have a training "band" as opposed to just a "learners group" it also means you can train new basses, euphs, baritones etc as well as cornets, young bass players especialy are like rocking horse droppings in lower section bands. And they can play more interesting music, too. We frequently have the training band do a 4-5 piece "slot" in our concerts (gives us older'un's a break!).
    We have no age restriction in our training band, our oldest starter so far was 64 when he started, and is still in the full band at 72. And he's now chairman, too.
    If you have someone (preferably more than one) who's prepared to commit to runnning a training band, as much help as possible from your senior players, enough spare instruments and can forge links with local schools to encourage kids to take it up, you're pretty much there. It won't happen overnight, but with hard work it can be very successful.
    Of our "senior" band, there are presently 10 players who came from the training band, and 4 or 5 other "senior" members who started in the old "junior band" way before that, including me!
  11. If a band is going well and you want to partly secure its future then starting a training band would be a good idea!

Share This Page