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. Sud.