Youth band start up

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by madrich, May 16, 2005.

  1. madrich

    madrich Member


    I was having a couple of pints with some mates last week, and we noticed that there isn't a youth band in west london that we are aware of. Does anyone know of such a band? If not, has anyone ever started up a youth band before? What kind of problems did you come across? What advice would you have for someone (silly enough to be) attempting to found one?


  2. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Yiewsley and West Drayton Have a Training Band, which has the intention of eventually leading to a Youth Band.
  3. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    As Ben said YWD have re-kindled our training band with quite a bit of help from Hillingdon Community Trust who gave us a grant with which to buy instruments.

    The biggest problems we've found were that without that grant we would be still be fund raising for the next year or so. So I guess make sure you have spare instruments, the likelyhood of any kids having their own instrument is very slim these days.

    Also make sure you have plenty of support and people to help/cover. We have 5 permanent trainers and a number of others who are willing to help cover or provide tution on other instruments (such as Kit).

    Get organised (we fell down a bit on this at the start) and make sure your students have something to aim for otherwise they get bored and drift off. Also don't be afraid to get out to schools, youth groups churches, anywhere is a potetial recruiting zone.

    It would be nice to get kids who can already play a bit and don't need us to teach them, unfortunatley we have problems with our local education authorities music department, who seem to activley discourage kids from coming along to us, they are more worried about losing kids which I feel is very sad, I would never discourage a player from playing in any genre. Sadly (and apologies to the orchestral players on this forum, who I know value all musical outlets) they are all orchestral background and there seems to be a high degree of "snobbery" (for want of a better word) and a certain amount of "closed mindedness". It's a shame because once their players leave the education system most of them quit playing since there is nowhere for them to play.

    Get your education authority on your side I guess is another bit of advice. It does very much depend on where you are in London, some music departments are first rate.
  4. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Make sure you've got absolute commitment from the people who say they're interested in helping. I was involved with the startup of the Middleton Youth Band a few years ago, and they were lucky in this respect - people who promised their support gave it and continued to give it.

    I guess in today's climate, it'd be worth checking if you've got to get yourselves police checked.

    Is the rehearsal room your own, or do you 'subcontract'? Remember that if you don't own the room, you may find that the Youth Band slips down the list of priorities for the room owners when they have other potential bookings and you don't want to be messed around.

    I know it sounds like a bit of a silly point, but it actually costs (almost) as much to run a Youth Band as it does an 'Adult Band' (for want of a better phrase). Bear in mind that you'll have to pay for the heating and the lighting (as well as the instruments!) and, initially at any rate, you won't be getting anything back for your investment. An obvious exclusion to this is if you charge subs, although you've got to be careful here - particularly if your LEA charges for it's music lessons - that you don't levy too high charges such that parents don't encourage the kids to come.

    Make sure that the Youth Band are included in some kinds of Band Socials - generate a good atmosphere in your Bandroom and it can but encourage people to want to turn up (and hopefully tell their friends!).

    Good luck with it!
  5. madrich

    madrich Member


    Thanks for this guys, this really is cracking stuff. There are already things appearing that we hadn't considered - particularly the priority placement on room bookings!

    One thought one of us had was regarding subs. It has been suggested that if we charge a small amount, this might help parents encourage kids to turn up, because the parent has paid for the youngster to be involved and they don't want to see this cash wasted. Its a fair point, but I can see it not quite working like that. Has your experience supported that, or is subs mearly a way of scaring off potential players?
  6. Crazysop

    Crazysop Member

    I help run Heywood and Middleton Youth Band. We run it financially seperate from the main band, but do benefit from sharing rehearsal rooms and instruments e.t.c. One of the biggest problems we have is finding people to tutor the youngsters on a regular basis. At the moment there is only little me. Lovely flugle conducts the youth band (i conduct and teach the beginners, but thats about it. Others help by sitting in with the youth band etc. Therefore we have found that we cant take large numbers of total beginners at any one time. (massive shame really)
    To get round this several of our band members have found their way into teaching the brass band at a local high school, and subsequently inviting those youngsters to join our youth band. This has included some joint ventures such as trips to Eurodisney etc. Our youth band has trebled in numbers through this.
    Dont know if any of this helps at all....................................:biggrin:
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's nice to see that some of your legacy lives on - Mr Wall was one of our first acquisitions when the Band was first started. Make sure you say hello to Mr Houghton for me.

    The incorporation of schools is a good point - when I were a lad in my cloth cap, there was actually a fairly strong "us and them" between Besses Boys and the Bury Music Service Brass Band. Things have to be different now.

    I made the point earlier that ties between the Youth and Senior Bands (if they aren't two separate entities) were important. In the 80s, Besses Boys had to stop rehearsing in the same Bandroom as Besses o' th' Barn due to the lack of a suitable fire escape (which in itself raises another issue - check on the legality of the building if you get a large membership!). The geographical separation resulted in a perceived divorce between the bands which, in my opinion, was quite damaging to them both as the Boys Band had been the major source of players for the senior band for many years before that. Things were never really acrimonious, but they were certainly different.

    Happily, over recent years, links have been reforged and hopefully good things will continue to come out of it.

    With regard to subs, I think you'll meet parents of differing attitudes and it'll be a generalisation whichever way you think about it - just don't make it too expensive ;)
    Last edited: May 16, 2005
  8. Owen S

    Owen S Member

    Egham Junior Brass started up 4 or 5 years ago with instruments funded with lottery money. The band has grown from strength to strength, and is pretty much entirely run by George O'Mara, who plays 1st horn with the main band. They now have something like 50 players in ensembles at different levels.

    I'm not involved with the junior band myself, but I do know that the band sent some small groups into local schools to encourage children to join as beginners and ended up with a pretty good response.

    Staines have also been discussing creating a training band setup, but I'm not sure whether that will get off the ground. I haven't heard of any other arrangements in west London (Fulham, Regent, Denham etc.) but I don't know those bands so well. If you're serious about this, one person you really should speak to is Paul Fensom, MD of Broseley and Director of Music for the Borough of Brent.
  9. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    You never know if we can get enough Junior/Training bands in west London we could have a gala concert one year!.

    Our own band (Yiewsley and West Drayton) isn't quite there yet but then we've only been running for just under a year, it would be great to get all the junior bands in the vicinity together for a day (an organisational nightmare :D though). I remember fondly joint concerts with my school band and another school band (back in the days where they still had such things!) and they were teriffic fun.
  10. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    If you do succeed in setting up a training band then do not make the same mistakes we have.
    We have a huge training band and a huge range of abilities. We have people in our training band who are also playing in the main band (second section) some studying for their grade 7 some playing in the county orchestra etc. while at the other end we have starters who can barely get above a middle G. All turn up to the same practices
    The starters are intimidated by the fairly high standard of music we play and they are missing out on a staged development while the ones at the top are being frustrated by being held back.
    To sort the mess out we will probably be forced in the end to split the band in two
    and break up friendships and families.
    If you get this right when you start out and put in place some staged progression based upon ability then you will not face the problems and inevitable heatache we are going to face.

    Good Luck
  11. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Make sure your youth or training band has some performance opportunities. Nothing turns off a player as much as rehearsing and rehearsing and never "playing out".

    If the youth band is an offshoot from an adult band, then having a joint concert or two is an excellent way to show the youngsters that they are supported and also to generate a crowd for the adult band portion - people will almost always come out to see their children play! A way to build a bit of a local following for your band.

    I wish you good luck in your endeavour to start a youth band - this is the way to ensure the future of the movement, because we can't rely on the schools or others to train players for us.
  12. madrich

    madrich Member

    Absolutely. That's one of the key motivations behind the scheme. The only reason I started playing in a band was because my mum met another mum outside my school when I was 7 and her husband was directing the youth band at the time. I joined and have never looked back. I know several people who have a similar story and I'm sure there are many others.

    I agree with the playing out thing. In an ideal world we'd have the support of the local schools and play their fetes (probably for free) over the summer and then do a joint christmas concert with the "adult" band towards the end of the year. Other suggestions have included a solo contest where we get a "celebrity" brass player to listen to the kids play a short solo (probably in "legues") and then give the winners their prizes during the evening concert. I'm not sure how good an idea that is, finding the celebrity might be difficult, but it will give them an opertunity to play solos in front of an audience, which very valuable.
  13. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    At risk of sounding like a broken record by quoting Besses Boys again ( ;) ), they run an annual solo contest in a similar way. It is (or at least was) broken down into sections for the Beginner's Band and the Training Band, and then the Boys Band is broken down into further sections (Prliminary, Intermediate and Advanced). My claim to fame is that I beat Mark Wilkinson to win the 1985 advanced section :D (although 1st place was actually a tie with Simon Johnson of tromboneering fame). At that point, the adjudicator was Stanley Wainwright who was the contest controller of the British Open but in recent years they've had the 'Star Brass' style adjucation in the form of people like Glyn Williams.

    It does give people chance to shine - and in my day it was a compulsory thing as well, although I'm not convinced that that is necessarily a good idea.
  14. persins

    persins Member

    Would that be referring to me per chance?!!!

    A very valiant idea mate and one that I would happily support you in if I was a bit nearer, had more time and could be ar5ed!!!! No seriously, I would help as was suggested at Tadley! Just make sure that you have a few others with the dedication to help you out as otherwise you'll turn into Frank!!!!!!!

    And definitely get yourself police checked, actually, don' t cos you know what they might find!!!!!!!!;) :biggrin:
  15. Jasonp

    Jasonp Member

    I've been trying to get some kids along to Staines in the hope of starting a Junior band, but as someone has already mentioned, you must be comitted to it which is proving to be very difficult for me. So before you start make sure you can give them 110%
  16. madrich

    madrich Member

    Absolutely. I want to try and understand as much as I possibly can about what I am letting myself and my collegues in for by taking this on, hence this thread and other research that I am doing. I am extremely grateful for the help and the encouragement!