Upsetting Players by Moving them Down

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jonno, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. Jonno

    Jonno Member


    We are in a little bit of a quandry at our band and the committee can't decide which way to jump on an issue. I was wondering what the other members of tMP think.

    We have recently signed a new Bass player and our MD has taken the decision that he thinks the new player is much stronger and competant than the existing three. He has been offered the principals position and accepted.

    This is not the problem, the problem is further down the line. Our old top e-flat player has happily moved to 2nd e-flat and our MD has asked the old 2nd E-flat to move to top B-flat; again not initially a problem. However our only B-flat player has got themselves very upset about the situation and has contacted the committee in tears about how unhappy they are to be moved to 2nd Bb Bass without a chance to 'prove themselves'.

    The gentleman that has moved from E-flat to B-flat would be happy to play 2nd B-flat but our MD is convinced that the 'new' formation will make the whole section stronger for the area and is also concerned that. to back-track and swicth the 2 B-flat players around just because one is upset, may 'undermine' his authority and create a precedence for any future player moves.

    The MD has asked the committee what we would like him to do. He still thinks the 'new' formation is the strongest but is willing to back-track for the sake of harmony if we, as a committee, feel it is best. We agree that the new line-up is stronger but there is a chance that the upset person may leave if they are not allowed back onto their 1st seat.

    What would you do, stick it out and tell the player that, for the sake of the band, they are better on 2nd; or instruct the MD to backtrack their decision.

    We are split on this because a replacement player may not be easy to come across. Therefore any opinions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    'Jonno' Phillips
  2. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    The question of the "ranking" of BBb players has cropped up here before, and it can indeed be argued that the lower player can be more important to the sound of the band than the upper one. One thing you don't say is whether you have any prior knowledge of the ex-Eb player's prowess on BBb: if the MD feels he will be more confident and secure on the more exposed higher lines then maybe that needs to be explored with the disappointed player.

    Personally, I would aim to stress the need for a partnership between the two players, and would suggest that, in the event of one on a part etc, they share it out between them and see how things turn out.
  3. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    How about having some short auditions? Then getting the 2 BBbs in with the conductor to discuss his decisions and the important role each player needs to perform.
  4. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I think someone needs to suggest to your player that being "2nd BBb" is not a demotion. If anything, the 2nd BBb is more important than the 1st, who is, essentially, just a fat Eb player. (no offence intended ;)) The 2nd player adds the real depth and fullness to the band.
  5. yorkie19

    yorkie19 Active Member

    You're right about one thing; Bb bass players are very hard to come by at the moment.

    I'd have to agree with iynchie on this. I think the best way for your band to proceed would be to audition the two players, and decide it that way. The original Bb bass player then has the chance to prove themself. Even then, there is no guarantee that they will stay if they don't agree with the decision, but then again, only death and taxes are guaranteed in this life!
  6. Lisa

    Lisa Member

    Why don't they share the 1st and 2nd parts out equally between themselves?
    And in the case of contests create 'new' parts which are again a mix of the 1st and 2nd.
  7. mr b

    mr b Member

    The problem seems to be who is first and who is second. Well in short this is a section and if it keeps the peace by having what is deemed to be the less able player on top then so be it. Now its down to the M.D to use his band management skills and by being subtle he can alter parts or make a suggestion at some point in a piece for player "A" to play player "B`s" part and so on. Usualy when it sounds for the better every one is happy despite where they are sitting.
  8. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Having been a bass player for over 20 years I don't see the problem. The parts are the bl**dy same anyway. There are very few pieces where all bass players have individual parts. Even where it is written for one or split parts our section just sorts it out among themselves and get on with it. In one instance last week playing ballet for band I as principal Eb left out the counter rythms at 18 cos I just couldn't get it right. My partner Eb player handled it admirably.
  9. Tack7

    Tack7 Member

    We dont have the usual setup in the bass section. Of course we have a principle Eb but the section has been together long enough that its the player best suited to a certain section or phrase that will play. It doesnt even matter where you sit in the section because all bands sit differently. Often in the top bands it would be 2nd Eb, solo Eb, solo Bb, 2nd Bb so that the soloists can play & listen to each other better. An audience looking at that setup will probably think the 2nd Bb is actually the solo Bb because of where the priciple Eb is sat. So basically its how & what the section plays & how it benefits & balances with the rest of the band which is important. Plus if you share the parts with who is best for that certain phrase which may not always be the principle player then as far as the Bb's are concerned they are joint solo. At 1 contest or another they will each be solo Bb.
    Hope that makes sense.

    Simon Bb bass B&R
  10. paddo

    paddo Member

    Totally agree Simon, the basses are a section no matter where you are sat. I have over many years helped alot of bands out and with varying setups, at the end of the day whoever plays it better will be playing it.

    Last year at a contest which shall remain nameless I eneded up playing the soloEEb part with sop as the EEb player couldn't play it! on BBb (duet with sop!)

    And as far as this comment goe's

    "I think someone needs to suggest to your player that being "2nd BBb" is not a demotion. If anything, the 2nd BBb is more important than the 1st, who is, essentially, just a fat Eb player. (no offence intended ) The 2nd player adds the real depth and fullness to the band."

    I do take offence, I for one have allways been a BBb player, days of players working there way down the band due to age and so on have gone my friend!! BBb players are born not made!!

  11. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Not true.

    I have to be made to play Bb Bass.

    I suspect there are many others out there who feel the same.
  12. persins

    persins Member

    Player movements have always got to be managed carefully. The committee / MD must however be able to make them without the fear of individual player tantrums. I have been moved both up and down and you just have to get on with it.
    It always feels a bit disappointing to be moved down but as long as it is justified by strengthening the overall sound of the band, then so be it.
    The band is more important than individuals in my view.
    I would suggest that the committee / MD speaks to the individuals involved and explains the reasoning behind the changes but those sort of decisions need cannot just be overuled with the threat of tears or leaving!
  13. scotchgirl

    scotchgirl Active Member

    I think that demotion is a big issues in bands, but I feel (as do many people I have spoken with in the past about this issue) that as long as the conductor (whose decision it should ultimately be) is HONEST and doesn't try to move people around without confronting the people affected, then there shouldn't be too much to argue/worry about.

    Some players will always feel disappointed when asked to move down a seat, however, when you are in a band, we all have to play TOGETHER and it is NOT about the individual...that is it in a nutshell.

    The only time I get annoyed (and it HAS happened to me) is when the whole situation turns nasty through lack of communication - conductor/committee not having the guts to tell the people involved until it becomes blatantly obvious what is going on...its all about loyalty in the end, and your existing player deserves to be consulted BEFORE any decisions about changing seats is discussed surely?
  14. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    Personally, I think that any decision regarding the musical aspects of the band (i.e. Who plays what part etc) is solely the domain of the musical director. The committee should not be involved in any way whatsoever. If I were still conducting, the idea of a committee "instructing" me in this matter would have me finding another band rapidly. I played in a band about 10 years ago where the chairman (who struggled to play a CD let alone any kind of instrument) managed to get his friends and family installed in the positions they wanted, regardless of ability. The result? 95% of the players left and the band folded.
  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Absolutlely true.

    The problem with BBbs is that you occasionally have to prod them awake and explain things to them carefully.;)

    Find me the place where I said that the 1st BBb was a demoted Eb (or any other instrument for that matter)?:eek:

    You know that, and I know that, but obviously he or she doesn't know that!

    I've always been an Eb, even though I have occasionally been diguised as a euph (for expediency) and I once spent ten years pretending to be a baritone. It does sometimes take a player a little longer than usual to find the right instrument for them, though.

    Just a bit off topic, maybe, but I think I had my first sexual experience when I saw an Eb bass for the first time (age 11). It was love at first sight :)
  16. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I can see why this could be an emotive issue. No one likes getting kicked down the line. I've been in almost exactly the same situation myself, twice, at the same band!. I'd be the first to admit, being an Eb player drafted in to fill a gaping hole three weeks before an area, that I was no way good enough to stay there on merit. The MD came to me and made it very plain that for the good of the band, he needed a strong player on 2nd Eb, and that the only way that there was really room for me was on 2nd BB. Never once have I looked at this as a demotion. I just got moved to another part of the team.

    Although I did swallow a lot of pride and wonder if I was doing the right thing at the time, I've never once regretted it.

    What was MUCH tougher was when the top BB player left, and I was on my own for a few weeks, filling in the one-only and solo parts, and then had someone dropped in above me. (We had no regular MD at the time, so it was the band manager who made the appointment.) I honestly considered quitting at that point, but looking around me in the bandroom, we a tenor horn player and a euph player on baritone, another horn player one on back row cornet, principal cornet possibly moving onto sop (Which she really hated) a trombone player depping as conductor at very short notice, and everyone filling in gaps where they could.

    It's much more than a section playing as a team, which, as already mentioned, basses really have to focus on. It's a whole band pulling together as a team that's important. I've come to love being a 2nd BB, putting the octave below parts in and broadening the sound out, and to be honest, I probably organise the lad on top chair more than he does me! None of us has a problem with being told to drop off, mind our tuning or cover someone's breathing, because everyone's doing their bit.

    Your colleague may see it as a demotion, and it's always hard to stomach when it feels like your MD has less faith in your ability than you imagined. But every part in a piece of music is as important as every other part. and any top player in any section will tell you what really helps is having a good second player sat next to them.

    I've never believed that anyone but the MD should decide these things. When JR moved me to BB, he did it face to face, in private, knowing full well that if I didn't take his offer, he'd have to replace me. But I never doubted that it was HIS decision. The only reason we employ MDs is to make these decisions.

    It may sound harsh, but all of us have only two basic rights as band members when we don't agree with the MD. To shut up and put up and do our best for the band, or to leave. That's the long and the short of it. Any band memeber can leave at any time, for any reason, but team spirit is what keeps any band going.

    I hope it can be resolved. All the best.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Every instrumental part has equal importance, this applies to brass bands, wind bands, symphony orchestras, brass quartets, wind quintets, string quartets etc etc. The only problem is if a player feels that the player on the more demanding part is not as accomplished as they are. If I was playing a lower part, and I felt that the player above me was doing a better job than I could, I would be happy. If I was playing the upper part, and a player joined who could do a better job than me, then I would move down.

  18. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Thats the winning statement. Also as Simon said, who ever can play the required part best should play it. How many great bands have had a pretty top cornet and technical wizzard on bumper up or vice verca. Euphs likewise. Its all in the teamwork.
  19. fulcherc

    fulcherc Member

    At the end of the day, the Committee has appointed a Musical Director, whose most important job is to build a band using its strengths and therefore getting the best possible sound. Although it must be disappointing for the player who feels they have been demoted, is she there just for herself or for the good of the band?

    In Saltash, we always bow to the experience of the Musical Director, and ensure everyone is kept in the loop, thus ending up with the strongest sound possible.

    Personally, I feel every single part is important, and without a good bottom end in all sections, the upper parts have nothing to sit on. Therefore, good luck to the young lady concerned, but keep things in perspective.

    Committee, listen to your Musical Director, and move forward. Things will settle down and this little upset will soon be forgotten. Just remember to always keep everyone included, as it makes life much easier.
  20. BrassyEuph

    BrassyEuph New Member


    We would all give our right arm for a "2nd BBb Bass player" we only have ONE. ANY APPLICANTS?

    Dave Mildren
    Solo Euphonium
    Ipswich and Norwich Co-op Band
    Campionship Section