Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Bbmad, Nov 15, 2014.
Why are so many bands going to the wall?
Lifted from: The rise of the freelance professional
Originally Posted by agent006
Are we really surprised that bands are going to the wall endlessly when this is what we present as the public face of our movement? If I were an outsider I would be quite right to believe that brass bands are populated by utter sociopaths based on a lot of the content of this site. I'd go and play in a big band instead, or book a trad jazz group for my event instead.
Originally Posted by 2nd tenor
Bands are going to the wall but the reasons are remote from the public seeing this forum's comments. The way people live their lives is changing and so are their expectations of what is enjoyable, making music is seen as a relatively unrewarding pastime - it takes man years of practice, talent and funds to become passable as a player - whilst it's easy enough to listen to someone else play. Being in a band is a heavy time commitment: rehearsals, contests, fundraising and performance just takes too much time out of the week for many people. Bands also vary in their internal mix and politics within, but that has been discussed not too long ago on a different thread.
I'd agree with you that there are some nonsense comments on this site that might surprise an onlooker - and at times I wish the moderators would stamp them out - but one thing you and others could do to change that is become more active here posting interesting and sensible comments. RO's recent thread got out of hand but it did highlight what he seemed to feel was the rise of individual greed and individual greed certainly isn't a good thing for banding. A thread about why bands are going to the wall would be good, some shared experience and posting ways to avoid bands closing would be good. Is that a thread you'd like to start?
How many bands have gone to the wall?
Which wall? Berlin? Great Wall of China? Walmart?
You have to push through the wall
We don't need no education......
Wall Street perhaps?
I am the Wallrus
Backs against the wall ?
Any chance this could become a proper thread? I think it would be quite interesting, as my first band (Fairford Silver Band) 'went to the wall' in 2009, only a few years after celebrating their centenary. They just couldn't get any new players.It was a concert band but in it's heydey used to compete. I recently visited their archive at the Fairford history society and it was quite sad. Even when I was there 35 odd years ago we had an article in the local paper saying how half the band was made up of youngsters and was going from strength to strength. What has changed that kids no longer want to take it up?
Probably the same reason not so many kids go to scout, guides, junior football etc (or do they?) which is that they don't like to be constrained by organisation and rules. Then again, that is total guesswork, I haven't got a clue.
Also, from my experienced, the kids who do belong to brass bands are the same ones who also belong to the scouts, junior rugby etc inevitably something has to give
Agreed - plus the distractions of other entertainment forms which we didn't have as kids and improvements in musical tuition where instruments that appeal more to kids are being taught. (There were no guitar lessons for example when I was at school).
I do hope so and thank you for prompting the two sensible replies that followed yours.
"Why are so many bands going to the wall' is, I think, one of those questions that has a complex mix of answers. The question "Why have so many bands gone to the wall" overlaps with it, as past and present do, and might provide overlapping answers. Certainly, IMHO, banding has declined over decades and that attrition has occurred across the whole spectrum of band grades including Championship.
Getting and keeping youngsters interested in music making isn't easy and whilst there are more distractions now than when I was young I know of a lot of 'children' who became reasonably good before giving up playing when they went off to University. Perhaps the Uni break is one small reason why intermediate players give up and not returning to their home community is one small reason why they don't return to playing.
Attitudes and expectations are an issue. Some people (like me) expect to play better than they manage and some feel embarrassed that they don't play better, they (unlike me) give up instead of enjoying what they can do. The attitudes of the general public and better bands towards weaker players do not help. Applaud your local band for being there and having a go rather than spotting their wrong notes.
Older learners and returners are often forgotten (we focus on youth) but as they have so much to offer that's daft, and we fail to provide both the older player and younger player with economic tuition. What was once free and gladly given is often no longer available and now has to be 'structured', regulated and funded. Certainly I've met older players trying to break into brass who feel unsupported, perhaps another small reason why folk give up.
Life can be very full, maybe more so these days than in the last few decades. The pressures of work, commuting, family, managing two careers (his and hers ...) and so on conflict with the time demands of being in a band, inevitably something has to give. From my perspective banding and bands need, assuming they want to keep their members for decades, to become more mindful and accepting of the very varied commitment levels that their individual players might be able to support.
Most of the youngsters I know who play have a family connection with brass banding, but a few have taken it up as a result of having a good youth or training band nearby who have done a recruitment drive! I don't think schools promote brass instruments much at all now apart from possibly trumpet. I know my kids schools tend to offer guitar, violin and maybe flute or clarinet. My daughter plays because I play, but none of her friends do. Brass bands just aren't 'cool', how can we change that?
Making brass banding 'cool' for kids? That must be the hardest thing in the world, i dont have the foggiest! Maybe by not being cool? Does that make it cool? Seriously though, that is the biggie.
Also it saddens me to say, but I dont think kids are really that into guitars, clarinets, dj'ing or any other pursuit. You only have to look at the charts, if they cant get instant fame as a singer on x factor, they aint interested. Thats not even the schools fault- hint- the beatles never had music lessons
I don't think it's just the x factor thing either. That is a fairly recent phenomenon.
We do have several generations who have become used to 'instant gratification'. For example, a keyboard that plays by itself at the touch of a button. Young children do not realise that becoming good at something (or even just passable) requires a lot of effort and practice (not just at rehearsals.) Their parents often don't want the noise levels in practising and would much sooner they listened to something through headphones. You can even get drum kits that allow this.
Banding is also 'not cool'. The tradition of banding no longer runs through families as it once did (possibly because the industrial base that often encouraged this no longer exists) and, as someone has already said, there are far too many other distractions that were not available in earlier times. That's not to mention that schools no longer have brass bands - or very rarely - and the emphasis is very much more on electronic instruments. You get the occasional middle class parent (in this area) who wants their child to play music, but it is usually something with more cachet - orchestral instrument, piano or voice. Lessons are no longer free and, with the current government and its toxic attitude towards the Arts subjects we have a very bad situation. Since I retired, my school no longer has a brass band. None of the music staff are brass players and, despite the relatively large numbers of brass players in the school, they are too hard pressed to be able to spare the time. When I left, I gifted the school with thousands of pounds worth of music which is now just taking up space in a filing cabinet.
Some sensible ideas from Mike but could it be that we now have too many bands? Amalgamation would solve some of the personnel problems we all experience.
Where is the 'like' button when you need it?
As a late learner, it has always come across to me that there seems to be a perception that an adult should be able to instantly play, where a child is still forming and learning. Some bands/players can be a little unsupportive of this. Without this encouragement we will lose more players. Can we really afford to?
Also, I like to see some traditional brass band music on my stand when I arrive at rehearsals, but equally I think it is important to include things that the younger generation can relate to, for example the Frozen pieces. I know these maybe a little difficult for some bands but there are plenty of modern Junior Brass Band pieces available. Whether we all like them or not there should be a spread to cover all age groups. Playing these in public parks may spark more interest from the younger generation; stranger things have happened.
It may also help if some of the more "accomplished" players make an occasional visit to some of the lower section bands and youth bands and sit with the 3rd/2nd cornet or 2nd horn etc. Don't sit on the top seats, sit and guide the newer players. Sometimes just hearing what its really sounds like and encouraging them might help. This does happen in our band, some top players have bobbed in, been very encouraging and sat with the less able and it really does work. Players come to rehearsals wondering just who might be next to bob in and look forward to it. We have a wealth of experience out there, lets use it. Do it because you want to promote the movement.
Any thoughts from the big players out there? or do you already do this?
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