What is a "Community" Brass Band?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by The Wherryman, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    A recent poster referred to a band as being a "Community Brass Band". Many bands refer to themselves as being a "Community" brass band. Some incorporate the word "community" into the band's official name. A band local to me officially describes itself as being "The Only Community Brass Band in East Norfolk", despite the existence of other bands in the area.

    What do you think qualifies a brass band for the title of "Community" brass band and does it infer a different status from that of a non-community brass band (if they exist)? I do realise that there are bands the membership of which is restricted e.g. school bands, but I'm talking here about the "ordinary" bands that exist the length and breadth of the country.

    Is it simply that membership is open to all, only being based on (or even, regardless of) ability?

    Is it the number of local public concerts they perform?

    The number of fêtes at which they they play?

    The amount they raise for charity?

    Whether or not they enter contests?

    Are there some other criteria?

    Or is it a totally meaningless expression?
  2. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Was the original poster to whom you refer one of our Colonial cousins? as they use the word community in a slightly different way to ourselves in a band/orchestra context.
  3. bannisa

    bannisa Member

    Maybe he was referring to being the only "Care in the community" brass band in East Norfolk!!

    Years ago, a community band was probably one that wasn't linked to a company or colliery etc such as Brighouse & Rastrick i.e a town band rather than a company band.

    Now it is quite meaningless i think.
  4. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    No, it was a UK poster referring to a BBBA-registered band. Which band it was that prompted me to post this question is immaterial, I'm sure it is a community band with a small 'c'. My references are only to UK brass bands.
  5. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Personally I use the phrase "Community Band" to refer to my own Band, Cowes Concert Band, as we are a mixed age/ability non-contesting Band.
    The players come from all over the Isle of Wight not just Cowes so calling ourselves a "Town Band" would be misleading - also until the last couple of years the local Town Councils had shown no interest in us although now that the band is thriving we are being refered to as "The Town Band" again.
    I think it is a useful phrase which implies that you are open to all in the Community - and sometimes it does feel like Care in the Community or perhaps (in our case) Age Concern.
  6. still learnin

    still learnin Member

    Where I have seen it used it refered very much to the above. Open to all regardless of ability, they also provided a service to the community, such as supporting some local charities, by playing without charging a fee.
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Maybe it just reflects the catchment area of a location?
  8. 3rdcornetsolo

    3rdcornetsolo Member

    Perhaps it relates to where the players come from? Are they all local to the band or do they commute any distance? Meaning that it's the players that come from the local community rather than the work the band does within the community? (though hopefully a band who's players live so locally to the band would also do lots of community events).

    My missus plays for our local band and nearly half the band live within walking distance of the band room. I know they consider themselves a community band.
    I, on the other hand, commute around an hour to play for a higher section band and think people would raise eyebrows if we referred to ourselves as a community band!
  9. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    I suppose it harks back to the days when most brass bands were works bands such as those run for employees of a Colliery or Mil or financed in some other way by business. Town Bands would be attached in some way to the local Council.

    A community band would be what most bands, certainly in the lower sections, seem to be today, and formed and kept going by enthusiasts.

    That's what I reckon anyway.
  10. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    Community = Caroling, Armistice, church parades etc.
    Having said that. My band is a jobbing, successful higher section band and we pride ourselves on the fact that we are a band made up from the local community. It's our strongest quality. People tend to join and stay. We have students that pass through but even they tend to stay for their 3 full years.
    You cant build a community if people have no ties or loyalty to the band.
  11. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    While I agree with much of what has been said, is there any reason why a higher section band should not also be considered as a 'community band', if it involves itself in its local community, or is the expression now to be used as a euphemism for 'a not-very-good-but-we-try-our-best band'?

    Please don't take this the wrong way. My own view is that a band can be a community band regardless of national ranking (or even if it isn't registered). However, given that this is now the 21st century and the ethos of works' bands is largely a thing of the past, does being referred to as a community band carry any cachet or is it regarded as a somewhat derogatory term?

    I regard my own band as a community band, because of who we are and what we do, but we still have to insist on a certain level of playing ability for prospective members.
  12. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I think the title "Community Band" is a recent happening.

    I suppose if a band received financial support from the local council it could rightly claim to be a "Community Band"
    I suppose years ago these were known as "Town Bands"

    In the 1960s bands other than Company or Colliery Bands were known as "Subscription Bands" where their regular income was derived from members paying a small weekly sum into the band fund, therebye subscribing to the band.

    Pre "Floral Dance" B&R were well known as the most famous Subscription Band.

    - Mr Wilx
  13. JohnnyEuph

    JohnnyEuph Member

    I guess that means I play for a Community (and occasionally subscription) Colliery Band then!
  14. JohnnyEuph

    JohnnyEuph Member

    ... with not a single miner in it

  15. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    Over here, a "community band" is one that is not affiliated with a school. The participants can be from anywhere.
  16. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Hi, Bill. Am I right in thinking that (and here comes a sweeping generalisation), in the USA, school/college/town bands are usually comprised of a mixture of brass and wind instruments, rather than the typical UK brass band set-up?

    Is the term 'community band' used just in conversation when discussing bands or is it used as a 'official' title or description, as it is sometimes in the UK?
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  17. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    Bands, as a rule, are wind bands. There are few bands of your instrumentation. The baritone and tenor horns are scarce, and to make matters more confusing, we call the euphonium a baritone. Ther are however, a few brass bands, and some of them play quite well.

    The answer to the second question is both. I play in the Kaskaskia Community band. Many of the bands do have the word community in the title. Again, it does not usually indicate that the participants are from that community.
  18. Give me a flugal

    Give me a flugal New Member

    I think a community band refers to the fact that is a band by and for the community. Players come from the community and the majority of concerts are done in and/or for the community. Because of this, I feel most bands aren't community bands that call themselves so, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. One of the bands I play for has the majority of the players from the local area, although I myself am not from around there. We do most of the concerts there and even oraganise a successful fete every year for the surrounding community. Although we do not call ourselves officially a community band, I feel that we could be called one and many people from the area would consider us that. However, I feel if a band wants to call itself a community band, even if they are not strictly so, we should not try and stop. The brass banding world is a small world that few people outside it have heard of. If bands want to associate themselves with an area then let them do it, so long as the community itself has no problem with it, to promote brass bands altogether.
  19. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    I must ask, is this really a serious controversy? Unless it would be a competition situation, it would seem that the residence of the players would be secondary to having the correct instrumentation. I could see how overlooking a local player in favor of an itinerant would be considered poor form
  20. A community band has bums on seats the rehearsal following a contest