Grading of bands

Bayerd

Active Member
sounds a bit like some people want a nice little elite contest for the 'top' bands and the rest can put up with massive sections.

If there are only 40 'genuine' championship section bands in the country, how many 'genuine' 1st section bands are there, et , etc.?

The top section in each area is already restricted to 12 (I think), so if you are one of the best 12 bands in your area then you are a 'genuine' championship section band.
On paper, on the contest stage is something quite different..

In my opinion there are too many bands that are playing in the championship section that are not of that standard
Too true

Should also have to attend your local association contest to be able to compete at the Regionals.
Dyke'll love that...

I agree with the OP, there are too many bands of true 'top section' quality in the top section. If you look down the listings, the Yorkshire area has 8/9 bands of that quality. All the other areas don't have that many. It's often questioned on here why an audience can't be attracted to a contest. It's probably because Joe Public isn't interested in listening to murder.
 

andyp

Active Member
As has been mentioned the local/national gradings system doesn't work, the question is what to replace it with?

The analogy with football is relevant, and for the same reasons. We all know there are 10-12 bands who are consistently "top class", just as there are 4-6 football teams who occupy the top 4-6 places in the Premiership each year, and there's a fair difference between those and the bottom of the Championship section, as there is in the Premiership (and for similar reasons, reputation and/or money attracting the best, etc).

This difference carries on through all sections (divisions), those at the top are a fair way ahead of those at the bottom. E.g. a top 3rd section band if promoted won't be bottom of the 2nd section, but above the middle, usually.

The implication for me is that promotion/relegation isn't fast enough, *but* if it needs to be faster, should it be down to just one contest a year (the Area)? This seems unfair. Anyone can have a bad day, but in the Premiership you have 38 chances, not 1. (more Areas a year? unlikely).

Also, local/national gradings seem ludicrous. As has been mentioned we are graded 2nd national, but 3rd local. Given that the other 2 we can enter that count are in Dukinfield and St.Helens (neither of which are a great place to spend a Sunday) and we are busy enough all year anyway we are unlikely to go, so under the NW area rules won't get promoted locally even if we win Preston and Fleetwood (the other 2 on the calendar) even if that means we have more points than the other bands in the section.
IIRC obviously, but I believe them's the rules.
There's been more than one occasion where bands have been graded 2 or even 3 sections different locally from nationally, which surely cannot be right. ( I remember well Rochdale Contest, 4th section a band played James Curnow's "Trittico" very well and won by a country mile - clearly a long way from their correct grading).
For me, why can't national gradings apply across the board? If you go up locally by winning local contest and are in a higher section for the Area, so be it, if it isn't for you, you'll come down again to where you should be.
Maybe some sort of weighting should be introduced according to the grading of the other bands you competed against at any contest (the "squash ladder" system, as used by 4barsrest to work out their rankings). Lot more complicated, but fairer, surely?
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
sounds a bit like some people want a nice little elite contest for the 'top' bands and the rest can put up with massive sections.
"Massive sections" - have you had a close look at banding lately? Some areas have a big entry in the lower sections, but take a look at the North and Wales. If there isn't a change soon, and a drastic one, there won't be a viable contest in some areas in a few years.

And yes, I do think an elite contest for the top bands is a good idea. I think that would result in better quality top section contests. Do you really think that there are 80 bands in the UK capable of consistently playing at that level?

The top section in each area is already restricted to 12 (I think), so if you are one of the best 12 bands in your area then you are a 'genuine' championship section band.
So not true. The ability to satisfy a numerical quota (i.e. to scrape into the top 12 in an area, especially a weaker one) is not an indicator of championship quality.

Look, I know people don't like changes to the status quo, especially ones that seem to cement the position of bands at the top level. There may even be people that think all is rosy in banding's garden. All I can say is, look at the attendance of bands and punters at regional and national contests over the last 30 years. Look at the downward curve, and tell me that nothing needs to change.:rolleyes:
 

stevetrom

Well-Known Member
"Massive sections" .......t take a look at the North and Wales. If there isn't a change soon, and a drastic one, there won't be a viable contest in some areas in a few years.
no such problems in the midlands, southern counties & west country.

maybe the problem is the number of area contests, do we really need separate area contest for the North, North West and Yorkshire as they do not seem to be able to find enough bands to make 5 sections?
 

westoe_horn

Member
"Massive sections" - have you had a close look at banding lately? Some areas have a big entry in the lower sections, but take a look at the North and Wales. If there isn't a change soon, and a drastic one, there won't be a viable contest in some areas in a few years.

And yes, I do think an elite contest for the top bands is a good idea. I think that would result in better quality top section contests. Do you really think that there are 80 bands in the UK capable of consistently playing at that level?

So not true. The ability to satisfy a numerical quota (i.e. to scrape into the top 12 in an area, especially a weaker one) is not an indicator of championship quality.

Totally agree with that. In the North we simply do not have enough bands to support 5 viable sections. The current system is a joke and needs to change, if we stand still we will die.

Take my own band as an example...... In March we will compete in Championship section for the 3rd year running, are we a championship quality band? - no! We were promoted by the ridiculous '3 year average' rule despite never having qualified for the finals in the 1st section, and in fact went up on the basis of a 3rd, 5th and 4th!!

Should we be in the elite of banding - no. We are a decent 1st section band but who are out of our depth in the top section. Even in one of the weaker regions we will never qualify for the finals in the top section.

There's a huge problem but I doubt anything will be done about it.....
 
On paper, on the contest stage is something quite different..



Too true



Dyke'll love that...

I agree with the OP, there are too many bands of true 'top section' quality in the top section. If you look down the listings, the Yorkshire area has 8/9 bands of that quality. All the other areas don't have that many. It's often questioned on here why an audience can't be attracted to a contest. It's probably because Joe Public isn't interested in listening to murder.
This thread sems to be going the way of many - introspective, elitist and pessimistic. Can we not appreciate that "Joe Public" isn't interested in listening to the same (often technical rather than musical) piece 20 times over? If we want audiences, we have to give them the kind of music and performance they want, instead of this over-emphasis on contesting and league tables - much of which is about one-upmanship and ego boosting.
Get real people - there is a great big world out there that doesn't revolve around brass bands and their contests - broaden the appeal, and we might just attract larger audiences and some new blood.

Donning flack jacket as "submit reply" key pressed.......
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
This thread sems to be going the way of many - introspective, elitist and pessimistic. Can we not appreciate that "Joe Public" isn't interested in listening to the same (often technical rather than musical) piece 20 times over? If we want audiences, we have to give them the kind of music and performance they want, instead of this over-emphasis on contesting and league tables - much of which is about one-upmanship and ego boosting.
Get real people - there is a great big world out there that doesn't revolve around brass bands and their contests - broaden the appeal, and we might just attract larger audiences and some new blood.

Donning flack jacket as "submit reply" key pressed.......
You have a point, although I don't believe there is an audience for contests full stop. Especially not the lower section ones. There might be some interest from outside banding in "Brass in Concert" style contests, but outside banding who on earth wants to go and listen to 23 bands play the same 4th section testpiece on a cold Saturday morning in March?

The argument about giving audiences "the kind of music and performance they want" is fair enough, if we actually knew in any detail what that was. Bands already play an excess (in my opinion) of cheesy pop song and film music arrangements, but that seems to be the stock answer to the question "what do audiences want". Is it possible that audiences want bands to define themselves more sharply rather than trying to be all things to all people? We're not just another means of hearing the same music you hear on X Factor, Classic FM and Sky Movies. We're actually a means of hearing NEW and interesting music.
 

Frontman

Member
no such problems in the midlands, southern counties & west country.

maybe the problem is the number of area contests, do we really need separate area contest for the North, North West and Yorkshire as they do not seem to be able to find enough bands to make 5 sections?
May I point out that the North West Area at the present has 12 Chapionship Section, 11 First Section,
13 Second Section, 19 Third Section and 27 Fourth Section Bands.

Perhaps looking at last years figures there may be an argument for joining the Noth and Yorkshire together . However reading the forum regarding the 4th Section Area piece there is comment that the 4th Section in the Midlands will be very small this year.
 

Beesa

Member
As has been mentioned the local/national gradings system doesn't work, the question is what to replace it with?
Give the grading job to Paddy Flowers

Take my own band as an example...... In March we will compete in Championship section for the 3rd year running, are we a championship quality band? - no! We were promoted by the ridiculous '3 year average' rule despite never having qualified for the finals in the 1st section, and in fact went up on the basis of a 3rd, 5th and 4th!!

Should we be in the elite of banding - no. We are a decent 1st section band but who are out of our depth in the top section. Even in one of the weaker regions we will never qualify for the finals in the top section.

There's a huge problem but I doubt anything will be done about it.....
If you shouldn't be there then you will sure enough drop. If not next year, the year after.

The 3 year aggregate is an excellent system for an annual competition and has far, far more positive than negative aspects. For example, to a certain extent it guards against the inevitable flash in the pan or alleged lottery style results.
 

Rebel Tuba

Member
The easiest resolve around this is:

Graded by the Area Championships (Contest 1)

Graded by your local association Championships (Contest 2) - this will ensure a) a band is a member of a local association and b) local association contests are well attended by the top bands as well as the lower bands

Graded by attendance of a 3rd qualifying contest, from a list supplied by the Federation, or whoever else wants to run this, of "other" contests classified as Grading Contests (this may be another local contests outside of your own area, it may be Pontins, it may be Wychavon etc............

Its a difficult subject, but the current system went out with the Ark. I mean, what other hobby, sport etc is graded on one competition per year taking in to account an off day for the band or an off day for the adjudicator :)eek: oops, a yellow card there to me for bringing the game in to disrepute)
 

Rebel Tuba

Member
The 3 year aggregate is an excellent system for an annual competition and has far, far more positive than negative aspects. For example, to a certain extent it guards against the inevitable flash in the pan or alleged lottery style results.
Sorry but BALDERDASH
 

bassmittens

Member
Some good points here. And i agree on one hand that some of the sections apportioning is all wrong with too many bands in one section/area and more could be done to spread it about a little more - perhaps a simple tweaking of the borders is all that would take?

Perhaps (as previously mentioned in other posts) consistency is the best way to work it all out. Grading based on one contest may not be the best way. Why not even extend to 2 regional contests - a test piece (as is) and an entertainment style contest. Won't Joe public feel like they have a better idea as to what level of band they are going to hear at their local village hall then? I'm sure there are many bands who can pull of a test piece performance but put on a poor concert and also Vice Versa - there are some bands whose concerts are exceptional but struggle to make it on the test piece scene surely grading should have a balanced look at the 2 main areas of brass bands (and no lets NOT have a Christmas carol contest!!!)

Regarding keeping Championship sections for the few bands who people consider as "true" championship bands; i do understand the point some people are trying to make here, but i personally think it would stop levels improving overall. I fear that the 'true' or 'elite' bands would start to rest on their laurels and the in-between bands would start to ask what is the point of trying?

Incidentally - who is going to take all the very good and valid points raised in this (and other such threads) to the powers that be? We all seem to agree that something should change but simply making suggestions on a forum thread will not fix anything - shoudln't we find a method to pass all these innovative ideas onto the BFBB and other organisers?
 

DublinBass

Supporting Member
In football they use playoffs to determine who goes up.

Could you imagine if the bottom 3 championship bands and top three first section bands at the area had to compete against each other in May or early June in an entertainment contest to decide who goes up or down. Could do a like event for other sections, would be fantastic!
 

FATNBALD

Member
I personally dont understand the need for local and national gradings? If you play in one section at the area's and national finals why do you have to play in a different one in a local contest :confused: doesn't make sense.

Regarding promotion/relegation, top two up bottom two down no points system and no pre qualifying for cham sec at national finals that way the best from all the areas attend the finals like it is for the lower sections.
 

stevetrom

Well-Known Member
In football they use playoffs to determine who goes up.

Could you imagine if the bottom 3 championship bands and top three first section bands at the area had to compete against each other in May or early June in an entertainment contest to decide who goes up or down. Could do a like event for other sections, would be fantastic!

I like the sound of that.

A series of promotion/relegation contests held in the autumn would generate plenty of interest.

It would also mean an end to appeals against promotion/relegation.
 

critic

Member
I like the sound of that.

A series of promotion/relegation contests held in the autumn would generate plenty of interest.

It would also mean an end to appeals against promotion/relegation.
Some great threads on the subject.Ithink most people agree we need to sort this out before we slip further down the slope.
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Regarding promotion/relegation, top two up bottom two down no points system and no pre qualifying for cham sec at national finals that way the best from all the areas attend the finals like it is for the lower sections.
That would ensure the bands that played best on the day of the Areas reached the Albert Hall (not necessarily "the best bands", though), but would the finals have such a wide appeal with even fewer of the top bands in attendance? As has been said, there are some areas that are undoubtedly stronger than others, as is seen by the number of top-placed bands who have come from areas such as Yorkshire, the Northwest etc.

Don't get me wrong, I would want to see thenational Finals still operating in such a way that the chance is given for an unfancied band to bring something out of the hat, but I just don't think it would be viable to restrict it to just the top two from each region.

Regarding the current promotion based on three years' accumulated results, and the earlier suggestion that it avoided the "flash in the pan" result, it does nothing about the situation where a band has an excellent result one year, followed by two less successful outings, and ends up being promoted when it is nowhere near the standard that it was in year 1.
 
This has been a really fascinating thread to read and I am sure that we will never please everyone.

My question is who is it that will decide if the current system is correct or needs overhauling? Is it up to Kapitol who run the Area and National Contests, the BFBB or the Brass Band Assoications?

The current systems allows some bands to attain national grading by doing one contest a year and little else. By having two or three contest per year and using those contests for promotion and relegation bands could move us or down sections by having one good or bad year rather than two or three. Cost could be an issue in holding more than one contest per year though.

If bands want the grading issue looked at, please give that feedback to the association that your band belongs to so that they can pass on your thoughts.
 

brasscrest

Active Member
davethehorny said:
My question is who is it that will decide if the current system is correct or needs overhauling? Is it up to Kapitol who run the Area and National Contests, the BFBB or the Brass Band Associations?
Isn't that really the whole issue with the current system? There is no overall authority. There will never be any sort of consistent grading or rules until there is such an authority, or unless all (or most) of the existing authorities agree on a system. Is that likely to happen?

Looking at the issue from the outside, and from the postings in this thread, the two things that I would suggest are:

1. Kapitol should promulgate a rule that no band is eligible for the Nationals unless they have participated in that year's local association contest.

2. For national gradings, keep the three-year rule. But not with equal weighting. Make it current year = 50%, previous year 30%, second previous year 20%. In other words, reward bands somewhat for consistency, but avoid having two-thirds of the grading based on previous year's performances.
 
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