Getting Into Championship Section Bands?


Active Member
Me and may mate Heather were wondering how you go about getting into bands such as Fairey, Dyke, Grimethorpe etc.

So, any professional players out there, anyone able to shed the light on this for us would be greatly appreciated!

So what are the standards / how do you go about getting in?

Bob Sherunkle

Active Member
Dear James

This is quite simple I think.

1. Be a very good player

2. Enjoy pies

3. Move far from Suffolk

4. In the case of your mate Heather, gender realignment surgery is likely to be required.

5. Have plenty of free weekends

And you're in (vacancy permitting)



Active Member
What's most important is making yourself known, rise up through the lower sections up until say section 1, on any good chair, and you'll get yourself known.
Other than that email someone from the band and ask whether you could audition to be in, etc.
There are plenty of ways to get into them, it's just whether your good enough to be in it. Obviously if your not good enough then they wouldn't want you to join, as you'd perhaps be replacing a better player etc.


Active Member
It does seem to be a case of who you know/who knows you as I rarely see vacancies for the elite bands advertised publicly (maybe i'm not looking properly!). I tend to hear of most the top vacancies through other top sectin players so find some and befriend them! It is real pleasing to see Faireys advertising positions on here and I think more of the best bands should do this but i agree, getting yourself known and having the balls to enquire are the best way. Help other bands out as a dep whenever you can and dont go playing too many wrong 'uns!!


Practice VERY hard - and keep practicing.
Keep an eye open for vacancies in the bands you are interested in but only apply for an audition if you are sure you are good enough (you won't usually get a second chance). You can find this out by having lessons with some of the top players, tell them what you want to do and ask for honest feedback - be prepared for some very direct replies :shock:

Develop a thick skin because once you get to a top band, some people in lower section bands and your peers will be hypercritical of your playing, hence the 'keep practicing' comment.

Be consistent, not everyone in the top bands is a brilliant player - but they are very, very good and just as important they are consistent, reliable and continue to practice hard.

Best of luck!!!


A lot of top bands tend to fill vacancies by word of mouth so it's difficult if you don't have contacts within that band.
By all means contact bands about possible vacancies and if any thing comes up you might get asked for a blow.
As Andy says though, do take advice from someone that plays at that level first.
Most important thing then is to listen to what's going on around and to fit in with that playing style. That's far more important than being a superstar player!

A J Foad

You're obviously at a disadvantage living in Suffolk. It's rather a long round trip to band practice twice a week if you want to play for Grimethorpe (or whoever)!

As all the previous writers have said - practise - then some more - and yet more!

It's rare that a player starts their banding career in one of the 'top' bands. In order to have the nerve to sit in one of these bands as a guest player you will need to have a lot of experience. This can be gained by helping out lower section bands - get used to the idea of fitting in to the section wherever you are required (even if it's top man!).

When you feel you have the ability, and the experience - approach a member of the section in one of the top bands. Ask if you could come along for a blow at some point. If this isn't possible, go along to the bandroom and listen to the rehearsal. You'd be amazed at how much you can learn without even getting your instrument out of the case.

It is a case of who you know that gets you a foot in the door - BUT - you can get yourself known by speaking to people at contests, concerts etc......

.......and don't forget to practise.....!!

Its sounds Like Football Leagues

I would say that the high class bands are like premiership teams in football you are scouted or (Poached) from the lower section feeder bands promised the moon and stars and then if you meet the grade you have made it. But what about the smaller lower section bands there never hold back any player do they? they encourage players to improve and be better. The hard Training is done by the smaller bands. Well you cant just go along and have a blow with THe Faireys can u?

I have upmost respect for the smaller bands because the feed the top section bands.

James and Heather If your dream is to play with a Top section band work Hard and PLay Hard. Do Plenty of Contesting. Why not write to Dr David King at Salford University
Nicholas Childs or Bob Childs at Besson Aid They Could Forward you in the Right Direction
The biggest problem is that we are in little Suffolk where good brass bands are few and far between. Also where there are brass bands they dont compete!! I paly for two brass bands and neither compete. I auditioned for NYBB this year but didnt get in :( :( -I passed Grade 8 Bb Cornet last summer and also have Grade 8 Bb Trumpet with merit both with the Assosiated Board, is it worth me pursuing my dream in brass bands?

How should I go about meeting these peope in high places?? especially as Im not that good a player.


Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
I know it's a completely different system, but what helped my get to A grade was a good recommendation, and constantly being in the conductor's face.

Dennis was constantly adjudicating events where I'd solo. He saw my potential, new I was from a similar region to him, and kept an eye on me for a while, along with his principal Eb bass player, for whom I had a lot fo respect at the time.

When in year 12, I needed something top push me musically. I was in a statewide wind orchestra based in Brisbane, but like most tuba players, this didn't feel like a real workout. I mean, I could play the euphonium and trom parts to pitch!. My teacher had just finished being a guest soloist on their last christmas tour (every Christmas they go around to some of the smaller brass band towns to do a publicity concert) and arranged for me to travel up to Rockhampton for a couple of rehearsals.

Next year, I appplied for uni in Rockhampton, but I wanted to stay a member of my old band because I felt I'd be going home more often than I actually did. Within a week of mmy application, Dennis found out, and asked me to permit with them for State championships. I agreed, and after a lot fo good feedback with my efforts, I was asked to dual register, or leave Gladstone to join them. Dual registering costs a packet, so I resigned from gladdy and joined the Big League...

so to you, all I can confidently suggest is be active, work hard, and be ready to things for the conductor that his normal musicians won't. It may pay off!


I too am a young brass player from suffolk. What I would suggest would be to practice hard and really try to get into NYBB. Then go to university in manchester! I did all of the above, and have been approached by Leyland, Fodens and Faireys lately, entirely (i believe) due to my contacts from NYBB. In terms of bands in Suffolk....Where do you live?The Haverhil Band is on the up at the moment, and myfamily play there so if u want a contact number....cheers


Active Member
Cornet_player said:
The biggest problem is that we are in little Suffolk where good brass bands are few and far between. Also where there are brass bands they dont compete!!


Heather, I would never encourage you to leave your existing band, that must be your decision, but to progress to the top, and play with a top 10 band you need to start playing with a contesting band.

However being based in Suffolk you do have some options.

City of Cambridge (1st Section)
Soham (Championship)
Ipswich Co-op (Championship)
Fulbourn and Teversham (3rd Section)
Littleport (3rd Section)
Waterbeach (4th Section)

Have suggested these bearing in mind you travel to Brandon to Breckland Brass.

However guessing by your emails you maybe of an age where you are dependent on lifts so maybe the thing to do is to decide how far you wish to travel in each direction to band. Then see what bands fall within your chosen maximum travel distance and decide which band will suit you best.

As other people have advised it may be better to start lower and work your way up.

Good luck with whatever path you choose to follow.
if your lucky, u might have contacts that you don't even know about! i joined Besses when i was 13 after my ex-piano teacher's fiance called me, and at the time, i had no idea who he was :? but its all cool now, once your in (and are up to it) you'll be there for a long time :)
As one other person from Sunny Suffolk (Elmswell) who does play in one of the named "Top Bands" be prepared for plenty of travelling.

It is always a case of knowing the right people and also being in the right place at the right time. Personally I was playing in bands around Norfolk and Suffolk before being approached by the then conductor of "GUS" who offered me a position on past performances. I had been out of the 'top flight' for a few years since graduating from Music College and it was a shock to be honest.

However, it now means a 2-hour journey each way to band but it is worth it. If you are serious I'm sure I could organise for you and your friend to come along for 'a blow' one night at Travelsphere once the area is out of the way. If you would like to do this contact me via e-mail and I will see what I can do. I come past Bury every week so may be able to give you a lift but make sure you are in practise.

You could also come along to our concert in St. Mary's Church in Bury on March 20th to hear the standard you will be looking to achieve, or to the charity concert I am organising in Elmswell church on February 21st when the T'sphere Brass Ensemble (Principal Players) will be performing. They are all great people who I'm sure would e more than happy to talk to you abouyt what you need to do.

No disrespect to any local band but be warned, the standard and concentration/intensity levels at rehearsals for a named band are a world apart from any East Anglian band I have worked with and, as such, be content with any position you are offered. Getting into these bands is the problem; once in promotion 'up the ranks' is always a possibility.

If you would prefer to stay local then I would suggest one of the following :-

- Soham Comrades
- Ipswich Co-op
- Clacton
- Matthews Norfolk Brass

Be prepared for a lot of hard work and a lot of practise.


Active Member
Robin Norman said:
No disrespect to any local band but be warned, the standard and concentration/intensity levels at rehearsals for a named band are a world apart from any East Anglian band I have worked with

Robin, firstly I agree that the standard may be worlds apart but that is due to the available players.

However I do feel that your comment re concentration/intensity levels at rehearsals is a bit dismissive of East Anglian Bands.

Surely Great Yarmouth, Fulboun & Teversham and Hilgay worked intensly and concentrated hard to qualify for last years National Finals?

Concentration and intensity is not reserved just for the 'named bands' or bands outside of East Anglia. In my opinion, for what its worth, A 4th Section band with an ambitious MD and ambitious group of players will work just as intensely to do well at contests just as much as a named band. They have to work hard to progress up through the sections.

The lack of concentration and intensity with East Anglian Bands when you started didnt do you any harm :wink: !
Sorry, I did not mean to offend or be disrespectful of any East Anglian Band. I fully admit that I would not be where I am now without the experience I gained at the age of 16 with Matthews Norfolk Brass. Up until then I had only played in Concert bands and Orchestras.

Perhaps I did not word it well. It is just that , in my experiences in East Anglia, there is a lot of 'banter' in rehearsals that we do not have time for at Travelsphere. Most rehearsal evenings we don't evening get the opportunity to take the instruments off our lips for the whole 2 1/2 hours. That is what I meant by intensity/concentration.

Apologies to all Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex people if any offence was caused. 'Named' bands would not exist without bands such as yourselves and, at the end of the day, there are only 25 or so top-flight bands in the country. Most of the banding fraternity is in areas such as East Anglia and we should all be grateful that, in this day and age of other 'distractions' the banding fraternity is as strong as it is!

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