Dilemma! Would you continue to support a failing band?

Should failing bands be left to go under?

  • Total voters


New Member
Seven months ago, I joined my local brass band, after a seven year playing break due to work commitments.

(Please note that any names of areas, bands, or people are not being used to avoid any embarrassment).

The band is run by a husband & wife partnership (conductor & secretary), and unknown to myself on joining, over the previous 18 months, had lost 50% of the band personnel, due to people moving away & petty disputes.
A few others have come & gone again after a short while since.

Band practise now means between 9 - 12 players attending, & puts the players under a lot of pressure. The band has no committee, as the existing limited membership will not commit themselves, in case they get lumbered with running the whole show.

Just to top things off nicely, the band has just had to cancel going to the area contest later this month, due to lack of players (which it also had to do late last year with a local contest). Also, we have done 1 indoor event since I have joined, and that was background music at an award ceremony, and not a proper concert.

My dilemma is, to stay - and commit myself to spending the best days of the summer sat in a fete tent with the hungry dozen;
Or do I move on, contribute to the bands demise, to a more popular band.


My personal opinion of this is to stay and help contribute to building the band back up rather than contributing to the demise. I always feel very sad to hear of these situations where bands are left to crumble after years of existing. Too many people are quick to do the off to something better.

Years ago my parents were in a band that went through a long period of only having seven players. Those seven people persisted until they were fortunate enough to have a healthy influx of players. I know this does not always happen, but at least if the band does end up folding you can hold your head high knowing that you tried.

Hope it works out.


To be honest, it can depend on the outlook of the struggling band. If there is doom and gloom all around, it does not make for a good atmosphere. When I took over at Littleborough the band was struggling for players, but there were a core group of players who wanted to see the band grow.

If there is a will to survive then the band will survive.
It really depends what you want from your banding, and whether you're prepared to put the effort in to turn it around. Are you good friends with the people that are left? Would you feel that you were letting the band down by leaving?
If so then you might as well give it a go. In my opinion it's a bad thing to let so few people to run the show, even if they are happy doing so. It's free to advertise vacancies on this forum, it's also a pretty handy place to look for deps. Maybe that would be a good starting place?

We had a pretty rough patch last year when our MD and his wife (our principle euph and secretary) left the day after the area contest. This led to other players leaving. Fortunately for us, one of our bass players stood in as emergency conductor to get us through and did a brilliant job (thank you John - I know you read this but when are you going to start posting?). We also contacted previous players, some of whom have returned to the band. It only took the actions of a few people to turn the situation around and stop us from going under. I agree with what MattB says about the outlook of the band, but enthusiasm is catching and your core group of players doesn't need to be very big. It can be done - good luck with your decision!


Active Member
It depends what the rest of the band's attitude is to putting the situation right. Believe it or not, some of those 9-12 players will actually thrive on the situation being bleek - there are always people who are so negative that they actually don't mind this type of situation because it gives them something to moan about and this climate gives them justification to exercise their despondent attitude.

I have been involved with a band who were moaning about the leadership and lack of motivation - but unless people themselves stand up and take some pride in the situation to put it right, then you will never get anywhere.

If you have done all you can to try help encourage the situation in a positive way and the others are not making the necessary efforts, then there are alot of hard working honest bands who will snap your hand off for you to play with them. I am sure the reason why so many people stop playing altogether is because of issues where others around them have not been pulling their weight and they think 'why should I bother anymore?'



Supporting Member
I think you need to add a "depends" option to the poll!

This is such a grey area, and it all comes down to why you're in banding, and why the band you're in is struggling. If the majority of existing band members are trying hard to keep it going, then you should absolutely stay on.... but if the majority aren't bothering to turn up regularly or help with running the band/keeping it going, and you're in it for contesting/getting better etc etc, then imho its better to move on than keep putting yourself out.


MattB said:
To be honest, it can depend on the outlook of the struggling band. If there is doom and gloom all around, it does not make for a good atmosphere. When I took over at Littleborough the band was struggling for players, but there were a core group of players who wanted to see the band grow.

If there is a will to survive then the band will survive.

Myself and my Girlfriend only joined Littleborough about 6 or 7 months ago, and it's hard to imagine that the band had so few players only a couple of years ago. Littleborough is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through hard work and determination to succeed as we now have, bar the odd seat, a full band.
Keep with the band and you may be pleasently surprised at what you can achieve.


I would agree with the other replies and say stay.

Just over a year ago a rejoined Watford Band and almost as soon as I joined all hell broke loose and we lost the conductor and many players leaving the band with between 8-12 players. I, and a couple of others, were seriously considering our position with the band. In the end what happened was that the existing committee at that time resigned and a new much smaller committee was established. Since that time we have had a new conductor who has brought a fantastic amount of enthusiasm back to the band and is full of ideas. The committee put a lot of effort into publicising the band on forums such as this and elsewhere. As a result just 12 months on the band has gone from virtual self-annihilation to a full band on both rehearsal nights, 28 registered and regularly playing members. Of those we've got new players, young players, returning players, comeback players. We're back contesting again after nearly 3 years absence. And finally, the band is really gelling socially (just look at the pictures from our Greek night)

If you've got just 2, 3 or 4 people in the band who are prepared to put a bit of backbone into it you can turn the situation around. I think the key thing has got to be enthusiasm; if there's no enthusiasm then frankly, you're flogging a dead horse.


Active Member
Flixton had 6 players 2 years ago it can be done! It takes a lot of hard work and a group of very committed people to pull a band back together.

IF there is a will there-

trombonium said:
The band has no committee, as the existing limited membership will not commit themselves, in case they get lumbered with running the whole show.

I think this could be your difficult point, not neccesarily a committee as such (as some bands survive very well without an official committee) but a team of people willing to put the work in. It is human nature (and i'm no psychologist here) to not be the one that stands up and makes changes but to one of the crowd, having a moan, but never taking any action.

I would suggest working on making rehearsals interesting, say choosing some music suitable for a 10 piece so you don't spend the whole time thinking about the missing parts. Organise lots of social activites and encourage members to be positive. Once that enthusiasm has come back you may find your leadership team you are looking for.


Active Member
We had a situation 2 seasons ago where we lost 14 members in one season, including the bandmaster, deputy bandmaster and band secretary. Fortunately we had a couple of stalwart members who stepped in the gap and held things together, including one who agreed to conduct until we found a permanent bandmaster.

However, the situation originally outlined in this thread has a couple of issues that we didn;t have to deal with. First, the group is run by a small group (two people) - and if these people are unwilling to share leadership, then the band has little chance, no matter how committed they are. When people are leaving because of "petty disputes", that indicates that the leadership may need to change in order for the band to thrive.

dave jake

If you re having to ask what to do . you should leave no point delaying the moment of truth. cos it ll end in tears. When ypu find the right band the thought of leaving will not enter your head, even if your the only one sat there. :hammer


My own band went from 11 a few years ago to 85 last count across two bands. Lot of hard work, but it can be done.

The morale of the 12 remaining would be my concern. If they're willing to give it a go, you'll get there eventually!

Actually, we had a bust up a few years ago and I thoght the band wouldn't survive. But as I now look back, I realise we lost all the moaners and groaners and were left with a hardcore of very determined players who were prepared to work. Painful as it was, we're better for it!

Jo Elson

If the band is failing because of players leaving then surely you would want to stick at it and try an help get some more players. If you were to leave then you aren't helping the situation. You may not enjoy it at the moment but maybe its worth staying for a while longer to see how things go.


Active Member
I would say yes, stick with them.

I did with my home town band, right up until it folded completely. I know I would have felt awful had I left early.

Not naming any names, our junior band conductor steered the players he was raising away from the senior band and to another band, telling them they wouldn't be welcome.

And then there was the stealing of money as well.

Di B

Hmmmm.... there are some bands you are with because you enjoy playing there, and some you are with because you feel it is 'your' band.

If you have the latter feeling you are much more likely to stay and make it work, so you should ask which one you are?

I assume that the band doesn't contest with few players, so you could always consider joining another band for playing experience, but going for a blow or helping in the organisation of the band you currently play for. Ties don't always have to be split if all parties can accept it!!

Now the band itself...

Motivation is a hard thing to keep in banding - one person can potentially bring the whole band down with them. So these people need to stop moaning and start working and enjoying their banding! I agree that social events really do perk a band up though, look at things all ages can join in with (I recommend Quaasar personally!)

Also, if there are only one or two people in control do they *really* do everything?! Why doesn't someone do a huge recruitment drive? Contact local news/radios and schools? Start a beginners band to enable to feed the band, get known in the area for community support (which can help in times that are leaner in banding) Invite people who play with other bands to be 'friends' of the band by coming to rehearsals and putting parts in and helping out?

Doing these things will not tread on toes, but will greatly benefit the band and the general morale.

Hope this helps


id say stay wif them! Our band (St Dennis) went from being a top championship band 2 bein nuffin! we had very few players stay, but new talent was found form schools and the band are now on the up! Its all down 2 people staying wif a band even thro very hard times!


I would say it is most worth sticking around because things can only get better. At Bestwood, the band was down to 6 players and these core players kept the band going and are mainly still in the band today. With a bit of hard work of advertising on the web and around the city, a website, posters, word of mouth, the band has successfully re-built itself. Last Autumn we had 16 players and now we have a membership of 34 players and a very committed conductor.

I would urge any bands that are going through a phase of being short of players to stick it out and with a bit of perseverence you will achieve something.

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
Raspberry said:
I would urge any bands that are going through a phase of being short of players to stick it out and with a bit of perseverence you will achieve something.

Defo. The only question mark is over whether there is that 'hard core' of players who show up week after week no matter what.

If it's all infighting and bickering and everyone's forgotten about WHY they're in a band in the first place, i'd be inclined to jump ship. :(

But if the commitment and the effort is there form all concerned, there's no limit to what you can achieve, so stick with it and make us all proud! ;)

It's a tough one to call either way though.

ian perks

Active Member
Played for a band whod just lost the sponsorship, players left and we soon went down very QUICK and got down to 5 players but we turned things around within in 4 years played in CHAMPIONSHIP SECTION.

I dont play for that band anymore but admire them for what they achived:-D

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