Ungraded/Unregistered band in competitions!!!

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by sudcornet, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    I was disgusted with myself yesterday...I did something that I really don't respect myself for....had a real go at a conductor about his/his band's attitude.

    As some of you may know, I am now endeavouring to learn the art/skill/craft of conducting. I am MD of a 4th Section village band in the Northern area, currently graded about mid-section. We entered a local contest and would be directly competing against other 3rd/4th Section and "ungraded or unregistered" bands.

    My first surprise on arrival at the contest and hearing the band on stage (I would have put their performance at a reasonable 2nd Section standard) to be told they were one of these "ungraded" bands.

    There was a few mumblings from around the venue about how such a quality ensemble could be regarded as "ungraded".

    Worse degradations of the spirit of banding was to come.

    As we registered and waited to take the stage, the band before us put up one of the highest standard performances of the day (of greater quality than the previous "registered" 1st section band) and, you guessed it....an "ungraded" band....it is extremely difficult to maintain your players motivation when they are listening to a performance of such merit and are aware they are in direct competition.

    So....my point....how can an ensemble of certainly top end 2nd - 1st Section level be happy to compete as "ungraded" and then smugly walk away with the said armful of trophies they bullied off the truly graded 4th section bands?

    I know they will argue that they really are an ungraded/unregistered band....they don't currently compete in the regional contests.

    I believe it is time to do away with this "ungraded" lark...unregistered they may be, that's entirely up to them...but, "ungraded"....patently ridiculous.

    If yesterday had been a gathering of 12 bands playing a twenty minute programme to entertain the audience...fine...I would have applauded their obvious quality and congratulated them on their standard.....but it wasn't....it was a contest.

    Championship, 1st and 2nd Section bands were in direct competition and went there fully understanding this.

    3rd/4th and Ungraded/Unregistered bands were in direct competition, but for them, the playing field was far from level.

    I am suggesting voluntary or compulsory grading of unregistered bands to put a stop to these smug playground bullies nicking the sweets off the little kids...let them try bullying someone their own size or bigger, then we'll see who has the most haribo at the end.

    Rant over....and no...its not sour grapes...we enjoyed playing, came away with a trophy, had plenty of beer and laughter and will certainly be back next year.

    I'm hoping this is a bit of a can of worms....let it be opened.

  2. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    It's been opened before Sud. I was there yesterday too, and I'm afraid the bottom line is this.

    1) The band in question have not broken any rules.

    2) Everyone who entered the contest knew the rules before they started.

    3) We are all equally free to play for whoever we want - at whatever level of band will have us.

    I've seen players who could easily be top-section level staying signed at third and fourth section bands, for any number of reasons. I've also seen pro players from opera north tuning out for 2nd and 3rd section bands - for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. Could be loyalty, a favour to a friend, you never know. Obviously a primary motivating factor in banding these days is money, but if you're referring to the contest I think you're referring to (and I think you are) it's not like there is a massive amount of money in it.

    When there is no requirement to be a registered member of a registered band at a contest, any Tom, Dick, or Harry Mortimer ;) can turn out for pretty much anyone. If them's the rules, then them's the rules and either you competes under them, or you doesn't.

    The only right of protest you genuinely have, is not to go to the contest.

    If a band chooses not to go to the areas or engage in formal test-piece contesting, but still wants to compete against registered bands on other types of music, I can't really see a problem with it. (Though for me the areas is the FA cup final of brass banding and the best day of the calendar. If I can play there, I always will, and even if I couldn't play for any particular reason, I'd still be there to listen.)

    Don't forget, by going as unregistered, they're usually ruling themselves out of as many prizes as they're ruling themselves into.
  3. alks

    alks Member

    I'm not sure about the contest you refer to, but near me (west of england) the unregistered / non graded bands compete in there own section for local contests, therefore eliminating the issue altogether.

  4. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I'm going to fish a few more worms out of that can and say I think you're totally overreacting, sorry. As Andi's said, the rules is the rules - if you don't like them, or don't think they're fair, then you have 2 choices: talk to the contest organisers to try and get them changed, or don't enter the contest.

    I do agree its unfair on the registered bands to combine the ungraded ones with 'proper' sections, but again that's down to the contest organisers and presumably it was clear before you entered. Maybe you should think twice before bandying words like bullying around?
  5. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    I hear what you're saying...and yes...rules is rules. But, for me, its much more about the spirit of competition and the fellowship within brass bands.

    The conductor in question......was quite happy, with the ignorant self-confidence of the school bully, to collect a bunch of prizes which were supposed to be competed for by band's of 3rd Section standard and below.

    I couldn't, in all conscience, take a band of well nigh 1st Section standard into that competition. Registered or not. But, perhaps that's just me.

    In any other "graded" competition such a band would be promoted out of the sections until they reached their level playing field...not so in this case.

    I believe a complaint about this unsportsmanlike interpretation of the rules has been forwarded to the YHBBA and look forward to hearing the Association's response.

    Its time for grading of unregistered bands if they wish to take part in contests.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2008
  6. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    That's good to know, but maybe you should forward one of your own too... the more the merrier!

    I totally agree with the spirit of the thing btw, but unfortunately it seems like all they've done is exploit a loophole - and if we're honest most bands have done that at some point for one contest or another.
  7. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I agree that rules are rules, but you say so yourself Alex, that the winning band exploited a loophole. If there are loopholes, there are not meant to be eh!

    This in itself means that something needs to be challenged and/or changed.

    If you always do what you did you will always get what you got.

    I am with Nigel on this one...

    There... tMM off the fence for once! :)
  8. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    So what what your solution be Sud?, force all bands to be registered?. We have a unique issue in the south with SCABA where we have a 1st section with mostly 2nd and 3rd section bands. To be fair they don't do too badly either ( but then it's own choice which IMO always "skews" the results somewhat ), and no-one seems to complain too much. Though in years past there have been a few interesting results.

    The other option is to say non-registered bands all compete in the camp/open section ( a'la Whit Friday )
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member


    But Alex isn't saying that nothing should be challenged - she's saying that abusing the band in question is totally unproductive; far better to speak to the contest organisers, to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    It's the basic point about anger - giving in to it feels good in the short-term, but redirecting that energy to somewhere more thoughtful yields long-term results.
  10. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Fair point Dave, fair point.
  11. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Yes, right or wrong it does not help to bring personalities into it (calling names), how ever accurate they may or may not be.The organisers obviously want to attract as many bands as possible, so its down to them to make the rules as clear as possible and to find a way of policing it to try and keep all parties happy.I was of the impression though that un-registered (non-contesting - is there a difference? - I suppose it would seem so) bands were not interested in contesting, I wait for others to (re) educate me :D
  12. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Out of curiosity, how exactly do you grade an ungraded band? You would need to know exactly who is playing before the event and know enough about them to make an informed decision.
  13. MarkGillatt

    MarkGillatt Member

    If a band wants to be "un-registered-ungraded" Why are they entering contests anyway? The whole point of being ungraded is because the majority of the players in the ensemble don't want to be bound by contests etc isn't it? I would be a little miffed if I found that the section I was competing in had ungraded bands there to swell their coffers, whilst not bothering to enter the grading contests to ascertain their ability and make sure they are competing fairly. If they want to enter these contests, then lets give them their own section where they can compete against other ungraded bands, and maybe some scratch bands? Would they like that?
  14. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I'm glad someone understood my babble, thanks for translating! :biggrin:

    What's that old cliche about don't get angry, get active......?
    sometimes it actually works and you can influence the rules - but if you don't let the organisers know there's a problem, ain't nothing gonna change!
  15. Owen S

    Owen S Member

    I kind of agree with Alex - I think it's the contest organisers' fault for using rules that assume that an unregistered band is not very good, when actually all that being unregistered means is that they don't play at the areas. A band can only try to beat what's put in front of them.

    The answer is for contest organisers to grade the band beforehand, usually by looking at players' banding history, attending a rehearsal or being sent a concert recording. Sometimes, as with SCABA, you can have separate local gradings, but that isn't completely necessary for this process.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  16. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    Ok...I do apologise for the name calling...and I admit...I was angry at the time...more so after the smug "we didn't do anything wrong...ner ner na ner ner" attitude I was presented with (said band has exploited this particular loophole on more than one occasion).

    No, I'm not suggesting forcing all bands to be registered. If a band doesn't want to compete at the areas, but does want to do entertainment/programme type contests...fine.

    If you look around at band's websites many describe themselves as...eg: 3rd Section Nationally, 2nd Section locally and I believe this illustrates a point.

    I would suggest that unregistered bands could voluntarily grade themselves (or ask knowledgable members of the banding community to suggest a grade) based on currently perceived standards for 3rd/4th Section etc.
    Contest organisers could position bands in the competition accordingly. If the bands are successful they could then be moved up the grading scale as normal, but still remain nationally unregistered. They would then be nominally :- "Ungraded Nationally, 2nd Section locally."

    I do get upset by consistently unsportsmanlike behaviour I admit....that's my nature and I don't apologise for that....sometimes I'm perhaps a bit over-zealous...that, I do apologise for.

  17. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Not quite - there are many bands who do not compete at the regionals but compete with their local association. (You will know many of these yourself from Scaba). This particularly true in the south where the 4th section is a total lottery due to the sheer number of bottom section bands that we have.

    So, for this particualr contest, is the term "ungraded" only referring to their lack of a national grading or a lack of any grading?
  18. Kat-SSB

    Kat-SSB Member

    Not often getting involved in these matter I will be brief.

    Only to say I'm not sure how it could be resolved however listening to a few of Sud's junior players from the outset I think they believed they had a good chance of gaining a place/prize whilst competing against ungraded/registered bands and can understand how disspointing/unmotivating it may have been at the end of the day for a few. Then again it must also be good for the younger players within unregistered bands to come home with prizes too when by their nature of unregistered they do not attend a lot of contests? (just to remain on that fence)

    Maybe if there are some good suggestions of how people feel this could be avoided this could be forwarded to the organisers for next year, I'm sure they would be receptive as I am we are all in agreement both the junior members of bands and good spirited contesting is a priority?
  19. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I think one course of action would be to at least grade bands for following contests, ie they should place the bands in next years contest (if they return) into sections relevant to their performances in this particular contest.
    Stable door job I suppose, but its a start.
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I have just read through this thread thinking it would be about something else regarding unregistered or ungraded bands who wanted the experience of contesting and adjudication (to obtain feedback) but not officially there to get prizes. Obviously not. I'm very surprised that this type of band can compete as it theoretically can be made up from top players getting together for a day (... just like Russell Gray's scratch band that won the Swiss Open in recent years).

Share This Page