What should be the Bond and Commitment between Band and Player?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I’ve been wondering what the commitment between Band and Player should be for a while and whether it should be equal or not. Some players will stick with the same band for decades yet others do a year or two and then move on for many reasons (like moving out of the area, clash of or too many commitments, ambition or leaving a sinking ship). Some bands are well run happy places but others less so and hard for a new player to settle in to, with changing membership and/or MD the character of a band may change too much for a member, and other bands may be/become hell bent on promotion or maintaining their high status.

    There are two sides to every point. As an example I’m inclined to think that parachuting in better players and levering out long term members, who might now hold the band back from promotion, is poor behaviour. IMHO it’s both more civilised and sustainable to move forward as one group of hard working players. Alternatively other band members might feel it unreasonable to delay their own progress up the sections with such sentimental nonsense.

    What behaviour does the forum think should be avoided and what is a reasonable bond and commitment between Band and Player to aim for?
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You seem to have a ready supply of excellent questions up your sleeve... Another good one.

    I've observed that bands tend to have a consistent group personality, often over surprisingly many years. It's kind of obvious - a group that enjoys particular ways of doing things attracts players that like that, while players that don't move on more quickly. Regarding contesting, there are bands that every year pull out a good show at the area contest, but in the extreme hardly exist away from that - and there are also bands that take it and every other contest extremely seriously, maintaining a steady standard around the year by sheer force of intensity. Most fall between these two on this particular characteristic - but it is striking when looking at contest results over long periods of time to observe how some bands have habitually performed well everywhere over many decades without ever stepping up significantly in standard, while others have exhibited much greater variability on both short and long time scales.
    There are of course many other group personality traits that one could pick out that would either encourage or alienate some specific player - humour, intensity, musicality, discipline, forgivingness, etc. etc.
    Every band is some combination of some value of all of these, and the taste of every individual player has some (maybe more than one) ideal spot in all this that will inspire great commitment and loyalty. There are additional factors in the player calculation such as travel time and the personalities of those that they must sit near.

    Everyone picks out a band situation that ticks as many boxes as they can, and, if enough are ticked, a serious bond can be forged. I don't think that it can be forced.
  3. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    That's an almost impossible question. It has a different answer for every band and every player.

    For example, most elite level bands would (generally) expect a player to commit to pretty much every job, even if it means being out most weekends, and to be at all the supporting rehearsals but the end chair players in those bands are sometimes freelance professional musicians in their own right. They have personal solo engagements, workshops, tours, masterclasses, teaching commitments, etc., and therefore AREN'T at every rehearsal. That's accepted, because the band know that when the player in question IS there, he/she will be on top of their part and will immediately slot in - the compensations of having a star player in your band for the big gigs clearly outweigh the inconvenience of them missing a few rehearsals. So there's an agreement between the band and an elite end chair player that would most likely NOT apply to bottom 2nd cornet, or 4th man down, or second baritone, and therefore even within a band committed to playing and competing at the very highest level, commitment expectations differ.

    I know what the unwritten behaviour/expectation contract would be between me and any band I committed to, but the chances are that any such unspoken agreement would be different (even if only slightly) for every other person in the band, and for every other person in every other band. Band expectations differ widely from non-contesting to those that are passionately committed to contesting and actively seeking promotion, and player expectations differ equally widely, so I don't think there can be a standard baseline level of 'reasonable commitment', apart from the very lowest level of 'turn up when you can and have a blow'.

    One player's 'reasonable commitment' will almost inevitably seem like 'excessive banding demands' to another and 'lazy and uncommitted' to someone else.

    One thing I would expect is that every band should be able to define what their ethos is and what their expectations are, if asked. That way a prospective player can quickly work out whether there's a commitment 'mismatch'. However, I don't think some bands actually DO know what their ethos is in any detail, and I've certainly seen examples of bands giving out inaccurate expectations (not necessarily deliberately or maliciously, just through lack of self-knowledge) in order to get a player to sign, which results in ill-feeling and resentment.
  4. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    First and foremost there is no right and wrong in this if the band are honest amongst themselves about why they exist.

    I have observed and played in bands that exist for the sake of it, most people dont even like each other never mind vaguely socialise away from the musical side of the band.

    I would think that a lot of bands have some sort of mission statement buried in their constitution or set up that reads something along the lines of 'we want to get better and win every contest we enter'. The reality is sometimes no where near this.

    Luckily for my band at the moment we have a settled band of players that turn out for practices at a high level when you take into account the massive strain on family/work balance. We certainly dont wield axes for reasonable reasons for missing rehersals or even gigs. I guess contests are slightly different as that is how you define how good a band is and therefore why you bother putting in all the donkey work.

    This time of year it always tends to be a time to recharge batteries etc. We're all aware that people are on holiday so accept that there maybe rehearsals cancelled due to low numbers - an accepted and preferable thing to happen.

    My overiding thought is that we all get on very well collectively away from the musical side, so first and foremost enjoy each others company (good thing really as we spend so much time together). Its always something we consider strongly in player recruitment - are they the right person to fit the band ethos is just as important if not more important than any playing ability.
  5. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Yes, I think the first consideration for both band and player is 'Does what I want match closely enough with what they want?'. This is why honesty at the recruitment stage is so important.

    Of course, part of the problem with all this means that player availability (or lack of it) leads to poor choices being made for those who feel they haven't any other options.
  6. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Three brilliant long replies plus a good quick commet too in a very short space of time, that’s great, thanks chaps:clap:.

    Commitment is a two way street but, as I read it so far, the commitment of the player to the band seems to dominate the comments. What would Players like to see from their Bands in terms of commitment to them? Might such ‘reasonable desires’ include: development of the less experienced ready to step up within the band; a place to step back down into as the years make us less able or work demands reduce time for practice and (if your band supplies them) a reasonable instrument to play?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    These are all reasonable aspirations, and ones that a considerate band management will do its best to work with. But a band is made up of 25 players, and such reasonable desires cannot always be comfortably accommodated. What if a band has two long-serving hard-working euphonium players of decent quality, while a young euph player temporarily takes a baritone seat (not that I condone this way of doing things - baritone deserves more respect than it gets - but it is a commonly seen scenario). In time the young player develops to a stage where their wish to move back to their preferred instrument of euph would benefit the band - but there is no seat, and they are doing a good job on baritone. Unless one of the existing players volunteers to swap, there is no flexibility to oblige without treading on someone else's aspirations to simply continue what they are already doing.

    A similar argument works in reverse - it may be that more forgiving seats in the band are already occupied, leaving nowhere practical for the declining player to go to.

    In both situations, probably the healthiest thing that can be done by the player wishing to move is to (at least temporarily) move to a different band. But of course, many do not want to, and so awkward compromises involving doubling parts and/or missing parts are made. Everyone has aspirations within a team situation - but equally one should also recognise when it is inconvenient to others in the team to try to fulfil them directly. I'm sure we can all think of examples of players who have been more focussed on gratifying themselves than on helping the overall band performance.
  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    As with all teams members need to remember that there is no 'I' in 'TEAM', and that members of THE TEAM need to put THE TEAM'S needs ahead of their own needs and wants (whilst still being mindful of their domestic and professional responsibilities).

    With regard to chair blocking I don't like the practice at all. IMHO if a junior player is capable of playing a chair or two up then they should be given the chance to do so on either a temporary or occasional basis - bands should develop their junior players and allow the section leaders to have an easier ride at times. Similarly an ageing (and indeed any) principal player in need of the support of others in easier chairs should shoulder recieve it in all possible ways.

    Thinking more broadly on the bond and commitment between band and player where do the reasoned checks and balances lie? A band's management can decide to take on contests, concerts and costs that the player is expected to support, but the player has no control (or effectively none) over those commitments made on his (or her) resources. Similarly a band can decide to 'go on tour', which could create difficulties with players' holidays and be a financial burden. With rights come responsibilities, the right to remain in the band means you are responsible for supporting the band's commitments but equally with the right to take players' time, and often money, comes the responsibility to ensure that the load is not burdensome.

    The bond and comittment between band and player is difficult to be specific about, but that does not mean it's not worth trying to identify what areas it might and could reasonably describe both in general (so at a generic level) and for particular bands.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  9. halsasaurus

    halsasaurus Member

    I moved back into Banding after a 20 year break with RUGBY being my passion. I think the way Amateur rugby Clubs are run in general is a great template for Banding. There is an Old Boy mentality where the Club tends to be run by ex Players who have tonnes of experience and connection with the club. There is always a representation for players via the Team Captains on the Decision Making Committees but the players are left to concentrate on practice and performance on the field. It just seems natural to me and the Band Management must be the Identity of the Band as Players come and go all the time.

  10. tromboneyone

    tromboneyone Member

    Of course, some times the best thing you can do for a team is move on, especially if you are frustrated and have lost your desire to play to the best of your ability.
  11. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    My experience of band organisation is different but limited to a few bands in my local area and that will not be enough to be aware of the broader variations that others have found or are normal for them. In 'my bands' players did not come and go all the time but rather a roughly 10 -20 % annual turnover would be nearer typical with many players staying for decades. What turnover there has been seemed to be due to changes in players' circumstances (change of job, starting a family, going to university) rather than moving to a 'better band', but that experience might not be typical. With such a steady band membership the bands I've been in have been run by the long established members who, and it might be a loss to the band, may or may not be open to the views of newer members. That might seem tough on joiners (certainly I've thought so) but, to be fair, it's the older members who have established the band and kept it going and who will still be there in another couple of decades.

    IMHO all players, particularly the better ones in the band, need to really take on board the team first concept. To be fair to the groups I've played in the best players already seem to have that mindset sort of in place, though they could share the solo's around a bit more - if your third cornet can (now or still) play a reasonable solo then give them one at a fete or concert.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

  13. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    It is very difficult to find a new band when your personal circumstances changed. I left a band having played there over 10 years - well run, committed, good gigs. I would still be there if things didn't happen. I struggled to find the replacement and left the movement. Every band is different and it is very difficult to find the replacement.
  14. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    The match between a player and band can be poorly defined, fluid on the band's part and difficult for the player to honour at times. The more answers I get on this thread the more that statement is confirmed to me. With good matches being difficult to find both players and bands sometimes make less than ideal choices which they then labour to make successful.

    I left a band because they had far too many gigs for me to honour and then floated for a while, playing here and there (i.e. at many places) as a guest player, etc. In my limited experience most bands, within (or not too far from) your upper skill range, welcome someone just 'asking to have a blow' at one or more rehearsal over a period of time. Assuming you have your own instrument I suggest you try that out. If you haven't got your own 'horn' then seek a temporary loan off of a training band, etc., someone will welcome your experience and it keeps your hand/lip in. I've met a lot of good people, learnt new musical stuff and my sight reading has been challenged. I found a temporary 'home' and now I hope and believe that I've found a match to see me through many years.

    This map for your location might help you find places to visit, a temporary seat whilst other things in life change and maybe even a happy match. Good luck. (http://brassbandresults.co.uk/map/s...850349999999934&distance=10&driving=N&type=mi)
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014

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