Nick Walkley’s announcement he is quitting Fairies and the comments of Andy Cattanach regarding competing in the Europeans (on another thread today) make me wonder if contesting, particularly at the top level, is counterproductive to the good health of the brass band movement. When one considers that most players have a regular full-time job in order to earn a living, and perhaps the majority have families to care for, is it any wonder that fewer players can commit to such rigorous schedules, and that there is much instability in bands (not to mention sponsorship problems). While top flight contesting has brought incredibly high technical standards, what good is it if it causes the loss of fine players to the movement and the ultimate demise of many bands? Is the competitive-sport aspect of banding robbing the sheer joy of music-making? I tend to think so.