Treorchy 13th November-where are all the Bands?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MAW, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. MAW

    MAW Member

    SEWBBA contest at Treorchy 13th November.
    What's going on here ? I gather that entries are very low. In fact entries from the lower sections in all the South Wales contests have been poor this year. Why?
    Is it lack of players, conductors, enthusiasm or what?

    Come on you Bands get contesting otherwise we may find that the organisers cancel contests altogether.
  2. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    Perhaps there'd be a bit more enthusiasm if the prize money was worth getting out of bed for!
  3. jim

    jim Member

    The answears are very simple why bands arnt going:

    Championship- This is pointless now cos you win nothing at the end of the year bands like Tred,BTM,Cwmaman,Cory went to go for the 'Champion band of wales title' which is now won frew the area, a prize mony of £120 is stupid thats what some of the listed bands would pay for 1 rehersal with a top conductor.

    1st section- I think they have a resonable turn out, well they seem to anyway?

    2nd/3rd- there seems to be some bands struggeling in these sections dominated by jst one or two bands at the moment, the welsh association needs to work with some of the bands at this level to keep them in exsistance.

    4th-seems to be a bit varied somtimes you get foer bands other times you get 1 band!
  4. LeDragon

    LeDragon Active Member

    Champion band of Wales - Well, as always, the contest is down in South Wales - so for everyone that doesn't understand the geography of Wales, it is at least a 4 hour drive down there from North Wales.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Wales needs to get a motorway. I was born in Haverfordwest (South West Wales) and live in Manchester. That is a five hour drive if I do not stop, which I do of course, (there is an excellent cafe in Ruthin).
  6. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Manchester... 5 hours... what Tim... you mean Manchester in the USA yeah... :)

    I have driven there several times from sunny Newport and have done it in a lot less time than that...:biggrin:

    (perhaps this is why I have just received another speeding ticket)
  7. LeDragon

    LeDragon Active Member

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  8. LeDragon

    LeDragon Active Member

    Even if Wales did get a major motorway, where is the fairness in the contest for 'Champion band of Wales' being held down in South Wales, where hundreds of miles of travelling would be involved for bands from North Wales? Same goes for the area - North Wales bands have all the extra cost and hastle of the travel and organising accomodation - nice!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  9. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Contesting decrease!

    I think this is not specific to contests in Wales. When you consider a) the prize money (as pointed out before!) b) the geography (as pointed out before) c) the availability of players etc d) comparison of financial gain and loss from attending e) you go to a competition and constantly play well only to be put in 5th place each time purely on a subjective viewpoint from someone (who is generally old) and writes three lines which say, good performance, a few slips or intonation and well done, perhaps on a programme rehearsals on for weeks. There are loads of other reasons why not to go.

    I remember playing in all the Welsh competitions many years ago with Aberystwyth band and enjoyed the day out, may have been because I was younger etc, but I enjoyed it nevertheless (although rain and Burry Port ? contest wasn't exactly 100% pleasant!)

    Its sad to say but financially every band at every layer of banding loses money hand over fist to go to contests...the people who run it can't afford to pay more because of overheads....sponsors are usually local and have defined budgets of what they can spend...there's no blame anywhere except for the fact that no one except those involved and their families and perhaps banders or journalists turn up to contests, because other than the own choice or entertainment contests why would any member of the public not involved in banding any other way want to listen to 4 bands play the same piece let alone 20 bands ?

    One final thing I would just like to ask ? In all the years I played in the Welsh Area I always wondered why the Welsh Area was more or less always held in South Wales ? I know Aber was just a few hours away, but I can understand bands like Deiniolen or Beaumaris getting fairly fed up with the long distance to the contest..whilst bands in south Wales had it in their back garden so, they didn't need to have accomodation for the night or turn up knackered because they set off at 4 in the morning to get there. I remember it was held in Aberystwyth one year, surely thats more central and bands from the South and the North would have to pay equally as much to get there, and set off perhaps at the same time ?

    Just curiousity, and hopefully it won't kill this cat! lol
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  10. MAW

    MAW Member

    hi Midwalesman
    I agree with most of your comments especially

    "why would any member of the public not involved in banding any other way want to listen to 4 bands play the same piece let alone 20 bands ?"

    bring back the entertainment contest to at least one South Wales contests. The organisers say that they can't get the general public to go and listen and yet last year they s****ped the entertainment contest. What a silly idea !!!. There are too many other things for people to do these days especially on a cold wet November day.

    I have played in Aber at the regionals and OK is was a long journey from South Wales but we survived and even had a decent result. I don't remember anyone saying that the wouldn't go there again.

    Apathy and lack of players seems to be a big problem and as for the prize money it's a vicous circle. If bands don't enter contests the money is not there for the prizes.

    shame really.
  11. MAW

    MAW Member

    Why have I got **** intsead of topp in the one word. Is this one of those silly politically correct doodah's?
  12. MAW

    MAW Member

    sorry moderators, had a senior moment there. Just realised that I didn't type stopped but another word which I cannot repeat cos it has a naughty word in it. I still think it's daft though. I know it is not tmp's fault just political correctness gone mad.
  13. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    Indeed Richard! mostly though, it isn't the distance that's the main point of concern for us - if you put aside the fact that this year we had to set off at around 5am to get to our regional contest - the main thing is the cost of attending. This is a cost we've had to put up with for 6 years on the trot now. Up to '94, North Wales and South Wales were two seperate 'qualifiers' for the finals - which were then brought together to compete at Aberystwyth. As a result of the 'merger' no North Wales bands were allowed promotion for three years - which we're not complaining about - cos we had three straight wins in the 3rd Section between '95 & '97. We could, like the South Wales bands, manage Aberystwyth and back, in a day - which left our 3 trips to the Finals as our major fund-raising objectives for the year.

    The move to the Brangwyn came about as the venue at Aberystwyth Uni was being renovated. Swansea Council, I think, and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, offered the use of the Brangwyn Hall for free - an arrangement that still serves today (again, I may be wrong, but I don't think I am).

    The North Wales Association has tried for many years to get the regional at an alternative venue (an alternative venue see, not a North Walian venue) - like Aberystwyth (which was ideal - and not because of our hat-trick!) - but the reaction has always been the same - the Brangwyn is free (or v. cheap) - so unless you can provide an alternative we're staying in Swansea.

    This arrangement is extremely unfair on those bands like us who have to bear the burden of cost and travel every single year - this has become so bad that on one occasion, I know of one North Walian band that had to travel down - a journey well over 4 hours - in their cars - and back again in the same day.

    Goodness knows what state we would have been in, financially, had we got our hat-trick in Swansea - 2 major fund-raising pushes every year for three years! That's a lot of sponsores walks, coffee evenings etc. ;)

    I hope that explains why we, just one band as an example, can't justify to travel down to a contest like Treorchy.

    Incidentally, how many South Wales bands are up in Prestatyn next week? Will also be interested to see the turn-out for the Eisteddfod, which is held on our door-step next year.

    PS. As for the 'Champion Band of Wales' - don't get me started on the old way of deciding the title! ;)
  14. MAW

    MAW Member


    I agree with most of what you are saying but I suppose my main concern is why are the South Wales bands not supporting thier own contests. I not saying that it wouldn't be nice to see bands from all over Wales but where are the ones who don't have to travel 100's of miles? Where are the Bands who are comparitively local?
    If things don't improve I can see that soon there won't be a competing band South Wales left in the 4th section.

    This is only my opinion by the way.
  15. alexandria

    alexandria Member

    Its obvious why bands in south wales aren't supporting their local contests
    *The prize money is really **** as menioned before, this barely covers conductors costs. Bands feel that there's nothing to work for.
    *When theres contests such as Wychavon, Yeovil, Pontins etc to enter with excellent prize money aswell as good competion. There is no competion if you know what I mean.

    I find it really sad that the South Wales contesting is dying. I grew up in a low section band excited by the thought of going to the Ammanford contest, Treorchy, Ebbw Vale.........They were great days, but now I realise that if the Welsh association want to keep banding alive they must make it worth there while and not run them down to the ground with all kinds of expenses. I mean even if they were to bump the entry fee up alittle but then increase the prizes?

    Something has got to be done
  16. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    You are spot on there Alex... 100% spot on - something indeed has to be done - but what... the answer seems to be 'unavailable' to us at this time. The 4 area competitions held throughout South Wales are most certainly being poorly attended at the moment, something I think relates to expense rather than income. The prize money at these events I agree is also very low which might deter some bands from entering.

    I am however, very much with you now - as I was with you then (literally as well eh! [I played in and conducted in Alex's band]) - when you refer to... "growing up in a lower section band looking forward to entering these contests". It was only a few years ago that as an MD I left my previous band and haven't been back to any of these events since. When I was MD, I insisted that we attend them though, I worked with and rallied the band together to put on what were hopefully great performances - winning once in the now changed Entertainments event at Treorchy by 7 points... We managed to motivate and enthuse the band to perform well - when the prize money was still very low - so I need to ask... what is it that has happened...? why are these contests not so well attended currently...?

    I boldly suggest, that as well as... yes certainly... very poor prize money, the relative high costs of travel/contest expense and the geographic location of bands located too far away AND the specific venues chosen to host the event, that a certain apathy has crept into the movement - and also somewhat perhaps... us, as individuals. We need to wake up and realise that although traditionalilsm is of high value and has its endearing qualities, organised and pragmatic change is also extremely beneficial... and in my opinion, is much needed.:)

    Change stops us being staid and boring. Change brings with it a plethora of new and exciting ideas. Change keeps us on our toes. Change creates accountability... accountability creates standards, standards monitor, enhance and develop ability, ability leads to better performance, better performance generates confidence, confidence creates acceptance... of contest results perhaps...!!!! (hmmmm, now there's a good one! how do you become an Adjudicator anyhow?)

    Why not look for alternate venues...? for example (and apologies for non South Walians here, I use examples local to me to illustrate the point - I am sure there are brilliant unused venues at a contest near you yeah) - a new £15M complex has recently opened in Newport - so why not use this? How about promoting a larger, more prestigious event somewhere in Cardiff (you know Mr & Mrs organisers - the Capital) that might attract many more bands from a wider region...? Nothing wrong with Parc and Dare Hall in Treorchy I might add - it has served the area well for many years - but where is the appeal in attending for bands outside the Welsh Area here...? Do we not wish to attract bands from elsewhere...?

    We have a new breed of bandsperson emerging in todays banding movement - we have people who want fresh, new challenges, who want modern new venues to play in, who love to play new exciting pieces selected for contests, people who want new formats for contests... but... it would seem that the traditionalists and the establishment win each time.

    There's a great saying I often use that comes to mind and is appropriate here... "If you always do what you did, you will always get what you got"...

    Come on.... let's change things!!!!

    Where's the pride in simply attending a contest, where's the guts and determination to succeed, where's the passion for both our bands improvement and our own personal self-improvement...? Why do we seem to expect vast amounts of prize money...? it's not all about the money... is it??? Why is there always such a huge and disproportionate difference in prize monies offered to higher section bands - especially Champion Section bands - when the only apparant difference might be the costs of an MD - OK and maybe expense costs for some players... but once again I ask... it's not all about the money... is it???

    I guess that from a player/MD perspective - I too am guilty of a certain amount of apathy as I haven't attended any of these contests for several years.

    I just find it really strange that the grit and determination, the passion, enthusiasm and love for our movement - something we all have and that is so apparant and abundant in the banding media (tMP/4BR) - does not seem to be easily ported across to actually doing something - whatever that is - regarding the future of our movement.

    Yes, we all love our own bands, but we absolutely need to stop being so insular and to start considering the bigger picture here, as this is where the future of our movement lies.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2004
  17. MAW

    MAW Member

    well said John (themusicman). I totally agree with every word you say. It's not all about money although every little helps. things have to change and move on otherwise the whole future of local contesting starting from the lower sections upwards is in jeopardy.
    I rest my case.
  18. Deano

    Deano Member

    Just to let you all know, I have just spoken to the Contest Controller and he informs me that there are 37 bands entered for the contest.

    Championship 7
    1st 7
    2nd 8
    3rd 7
    4th 4
    Junior bands 4
  19. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    Just a little thought about the travelling. It's not only people from outside the area that struggle with the venues. I live just 15 miles from Treorchy and had thought about having a few drinks and catching the train home afterwards instead of driving. The last train out of Treorchy that'll actually get me home leaves just after 8pm and takes nearly 2 hours, including 2 changes. Maybe somwhere like TMM's suggested Newport venue with decent road and rail links is somewhere worth considering.

    (Just out of interest, I looked into the travel times from South Wales to North Wales. The quickest way for me to travel up to pontins by car next weekend is via Birmingham:shock: The additional 70 or so miles racked up traveling round the long way saves almost 3 hours on trying to drive up the shortest way)
  20. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    Hi John

    The movement needs leadership to take things forward and to pull everyone together. Money is a double edge sword, you need it survive but it usally brings touble in its wake with squables and bickering.

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