Iwan Fox's call for immediate change today on 4br

Would your band pay £150 pa and you £20 pa to create a budget to run UKBBA?

  • Yes

    Votes: 10 38.5%
  • No

    Votes: 8 30.8%
  • Its too much, but I'd be prepared to pay less...

    Votes: 8 30.8%

  • Total voters
    26

Red Elvis

Active Member
I am entering this discussion with a certain amount of trepidation, because I do not have the contesting experience so many of you obviously have. Indeed, my overall banding knowledge falls very short of most of you.

Perhaps it is because of this lack of experience that I find myself somewhat confused. Having read all the posts on this thread, I have been unable to clearly determine exactly what the banding movement is demanding of the “authorities”.

Would it be possible, therefore, for someone on a higher plain to summarise the main issues that require addressing, and in a format acceptable for submitting to contest organisers? In other words, a coordinated précis of perhaps the five or six most important concerns currently at the heart of what is such an emotive subject.

Barry

Not for one moment do I consider myself on a higher plane as such , but certainly in terms of contesting the main issues are , in my opinion , the following:

Numbers per region , especially in Champ and 4th sections
Open / Closed adjudication
Criteria for adjudication or the lack thereof
Promotion / Relegation
Registration issues
Set work v Own choice in lower sections
Number of judges in box and experience thereof
Costs of entry for Nationals

I'd perhaps also add the question of English representation at European contests / bodies.

Outside of the contesting millieu , there is also the crying need for some sort of unified voice by which the "movement" can raise its profile and attract suitable publicity / investment and most importantly , attract people and especially youngsters into playing and continuing to play. This is possibly of more importance , in my view , than issues around contests.

There's been a considerable amount of to-ing and fro-ing in this thread , and indeed others as to how this representation is achieved in such a way that banding can present a unified voice that is broadly representative of its "members" either contesting or not.

Iwan Fox , Steven Mead and others have made suggestions that , regardless of wether one agrees with them or not deserve debate , but who will carry that debate to "the authorities" is what is up for grabs. The UKBBA / EBBF may just turn out as another powerless talking shop , or it may not depending on how we engage with it. The more of us that do , the more chance there is that we "ordinary" bandsmen and women can have a voice.

Given that UKBBA are at least asking for input via 4br , it can't hurt if as many of us as possible take that chance. Frankly , if we don't choose to engage with this , or similar proposals , then "authorites" such as ABBA / Kapitol etc can carry on doing their thing as , when we were offered the chance to speak , we remained silent.

Thats my tuppence ha'penny anyway.
 

WoodenFlugel

Moderator
Staff member
I agree 100%.
I too suspect that those who run our wonderful hobby probably have no idea that forums like this exist, and, if they did, they would not take any groundswell of opinion on here seriously ~ I doubt if many of them are computer literate. (and yes, I'm a "Silver Surfer" !!)

We can perhaps gauge a feel for the collective response of senior members of the banding movement from the words of one of the leading lights of ABBA, when asked if he had read something on tMP (I paraphrase; I can't remember the exact words, but it's quite close): "I don't care to read tittle-tattle on the internet". There is a disconnect there, and this valuable resource is being wilfully ignored in some cases.

From the comments I've heard and/or have been passed on to me out in the real world, plenty of the people that matter do know about tMP, but I'm sorry to report many seem to see it, as Dave says, as some kind of 'banding badlands' rather than something that could be used positively to affect change.

Perhaps Alex's suggestion is a good one - when you respond to the UKBBA proposals (and please do) mention that there are pages and pages of good discussion already covered here. Its seems a bit odd that they are asking people to respond via a website that has no real mechanism to do this efficiently.
 

eflatbass

Supporting Member
I am now sitting at my PC with a large notebook. All responses to my post will be written down. At some future time, I will attempt to summarise all the relevant points raised and throw them back to the forum (hopefully in an understandable format!).

So far, I have noted the comments of Thirteen Ball and Red Elvis.
 

Pauli Walnuts

Moderator
Staff member
I am still seeing posts that suggst the band movement is all about contesting - it isn't!
If the movement is to have a central body, it needs to focus on the future of banding, not just the contesting side which in itself is part of the cause of the demise. I's like a fiver for every time I've heard an ex-player say they don;t play in brass bands anymore becaude of the contsting.

So for clairty in this thread, can we agree whether we are taklking about the future of brass bands or the future of contesting brass bands?
 

eflatbass

Supporting Member
I am still seeing posts that suggst the band movement is all about contesting - it isn't!
If the movement is to have a central body, it needs to focus on the future of banding, not just the contesting side which in itself is part of the cause of the demise. I's like a fiver for every time I've heard an ex-player say they don;t play in brass bands anymore becaude of the contsting.

So for clairty in this thread, can we agree whether we are taklking about the future of brass bands or the future of contesting brass bands?

I think it should embrace both. Thirteen Ball, at his point no. 4, quotes that the umbrella organisation must also have a responsibility to further/expand brass banding as an art form. It is one point I have certainly added to my notebook.

Barry
 

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
I am still seeing posts that suggst the band movement is all about contesting - it isn't!
If the movement is to have a central body, it needs to focus on the future of banding, not just the contesting side which in itself is part of the cause of the demise. I's like a fiver for every time I've heard an ex-player say they don;t play in brass bands anymore becaude of the contsting.

So for clairty in this thread, can we agree whether we are taklking about the future of brass bands or the future of contesting brass bands?

If I may refer the honourable gentleman to one of my previous posts on this very thread.

I agree with you that a fedaration should offer something to all bands, and that the benefits should be real and clear - but any organisation like that has to levy a fee from members. And if you ask a band to incur a cost voluntarily, large numbers of them say no - as the very low membership of the BFBB shows.

To act for all bands as a unifying influence, the organisation, whatever it's called, has to be representative of the vast majority of bands, and I'd argue the only way to ensure that is to make it compulsory to sign up if you want to compete - because it' contesting where the real changes need to be made. (You'll forgive me for pointing out that whatever changes happen in the BFBB, lower scrogsville junior band will still play at the church fete in august whatever happens!)

Once the contesting bands are on board and the organisation established, then in a couple of years, incoming funds, combined with arts council funding, can be diverted to support development in brass playing and aid/encourage training bands and youth music organisations - so the top of the movement supports the bottom. And in return, those very organisations supply players for the future.

It won't see a quick fix, but I'd argue it will lead to greater sustainability and the ability to consult banding wholesale.

To summarise: get the top of the movement on board to set the organisation up short-term, and then once it's stable, use the created organisation to direct a significant proportion of incoming resources and arts council funding back in at the bottom to secure the long-term future of banding - who will then see a real return in their investment by joining the organisation.

The high-profile bands support the organasition, the organisation supports the grass roots, and the grass roots provide players for the high-profile bands. Everyone's a winner. Plus there then start to be real benefits for any band of any level to sign up.
 
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Red Elvis

Active Member
I am still seeing posts that suggst the band movement is all about contesting - it isn't!
If the movement is to have a central body, it needs to focus on the future of banding, not just the contesting side which in itself is part of the cause of the demise. I's like a fiver for every time I've heard an ex-player say they don;t play in brass bands anymore becaude of the contsting.

So for clairty in this thread, can we agree whether we are taklking about the future of brass bands or the future of contesting brass bands?

To a degree Pauli I'm guilty as charged - my post in response to Barry did tend to focus on contesting issues , but I was aiming to sum up for him the nature of what had gone on here on the thread.

Note I did say the following though: Outside of the contesting millieu , there is also the crying need for some sort of unified voice by which the "movement" can raise its profile and attract suitable publicity / investment and most importantly , attract people and especially youngsters into playing and continuing to play. This is possibly of more importance , in my view , than issues around contests.

Im my comments to the UKBBA , I took a very similar line to Andi and likewise suggest that , in the first instance and as far as setting up a UK wide body ( or indeed strengthening the hand of an English one ) then a virtually compulsory approach is needed , which I suggested is done with the co-operation of the regions and the registry so that both bands and individual players are de facto members thereof.We've tried the voluntary method and it's not worked.
 

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
To paraphrase Elvis's favourite political manifesto - one has to have a period of authoritarianism on the way to proletarian rule.

A short period of strong top-down governance is necessary to put in place the mechanisms by which banding can become self-sustaining and self-governing.

I propose Elvis as head of the UK banding politburo.....
 

eflatbass

Supporting Member
I propose Elvis as head of the UK banding politburo.....

I am happy to second that proposal, with you sitting at his right hand!

Eh; the response to my post has been absolutely enormous (sic). Perhaps there are not so many bandsmen/women demanding change as we first imagined, or dare I mention the word complacency? Time to run and hide?

Barry
 

Red Elvis

Active Member
I note that it is proposed to hold a meeting on 2nd July to report back on the proposals received by UKBBA , and so it's perhaps premature to comment until then but it would be interesting if , in the meantime someone from UKBBA could indicate how many people have engaged with the process - not in terms of the content of their comments but just an indication of numbers.

Barry - in fairness to the denizens of TMP (and perhaps the wider banding fraternity) I suspect it's not complacency or even a lack of wanting change on their part , but the fact that we have been here before in terms of wanting stuff done and seemingly nothing has been achieved. As I've alluded to before , in large part this stems from the lack of a representational body that can speak with authority on our behalf.

I also wonder whether the recent response from the "powers that be" to Mr Mead's proposals had a negative effect - pro or contra his criteria aside , if a banding personality of his profile gets shot down without a fair hearing (at least in my opinion) the likes of us ordinary Joes are less likely to put heads above the parapet. Hence why I feel this opportunity is an important one.

What's for sure is , whatever format either the EFBB / UKBBA / other National organisations take , if there is no widespread involvement from the grass roots as well as the tall trees we can have no comeback when ABBA / Kapitol / The Arts Council institute decisions that we're not happy with. Indeed , if there is such widespread apathy then fair play to these organisations for at least still being bothered to contribute at all in terms of what they do.

At the risk of falling back on my leftist ideology , a vanguardist approach may well be needed at first in order to galvanise the wider movement , wherein a few committed types agitate and lead on behalf of the greater group.But as history shows , that can all go horribly wrong if the masses are not behind you (Russia from 1924 onwards springs to mind) and all we'll end up with is another unrepresentative talking shop preserving a status quo rather than advocating for change at the behest of , and for the benefit of the whole.
 
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Thirteen Ball

Active Member
As for the lack of a response, Barry, quite a few of us on here are happy to post our ideas openly and stand by them - but when it comes to challenging the status quo - and having seen the severe and very public rebuffs that Mr Mead et al have received from the banding establishment - can you blame the readers of these pages for a certain amount of trepidation?

That aside, it's often difficult to crystalise a desire for change into definite goals to be achieved without experience of running a large organisation, so it may be as well if (as you appear to be doing) you're compiling a list of the general feelings of TMp's membership, for you to review the preceding pages and provide a condensed version of members suggestions for improvements. There are a lot in there who probably feel they've already said their two-penneth earlier in the thread and won't necessarily repeat it.

Happy to help if you like?
 

eflatbass

Supporting Member
I'm happy to do that, Andi. If I start from page 1 tonight, I should have some sort of list completed by tomorrow. Then perhaps we could compare notes?

It's a diversion from dropping notes on to the old manuscript page (where my inspiration is lacking somewhat at present).
 

YRBBC

Member
I'm happy to do that, Andi. If I start from page 1 tonight, I should have some sort of list completed by tomorrow. Then perhaps we could compare notes?

It's a diversion from dropping notes on to the old manuscript page (where my inspiration is lacking somewhat at present).


I wonder just how many will be interested enough to read your compiled list of points and just how many will be prepared to actually do something.

I have just been making some notes on numbers. There are 93 replies on this thread from just 38 contributors. Of those 38 contributors, 19 have made single contributions leaving 19 to make the remaining 74 replies.

I would be interested to know just how many of those have actually contacted the relevant bodies to put their points to them ?

A bit of advice to anyone interested enough - you can put your personal thoughts on line, vent as much hot air as you like but you will not make any progress unless you actually contact the relevant bodies. Write - send an email - give them something to put before a committee etc. and don't just criticise put suggestions for a solution to them.

Suggestions/solutions regarding the area contests to your regional secretary.
Suggestions/solutions regarding the National Finals to Kapitol
Suggestions/solutions regarding UKBBA to enquiries@ukbba.org

and the same applies if you have ideas for your brass band association, other contest organisers etc. etc.

GET IN TOUCH - MAKE CONTACT - IF YOU FEEL STRONGLY ENOUGH THEN BE PREPARED TO PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

P.
 
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timbloke

Member
Thanks for the suggestion Peggy - actually it is an amazingly simple suggestion and I bet not many people do contact the various bodies to vent their feelings, so those bodies could be (to a certain extent) forgiven for not realising the depth of feeling in the banding world for development and change.

However, there are three concerns I have - the first is that (until I asked the question on here about 6 months ago) I had no idea which organisations were responsible for what. To be honest, I still don't fully understand what every association, committee or alliance does, and which I should contact to suggest change/development. Hence, (and this I think should be top of Barry's list) one of the main suggestions is for a unifying body (the UKBBA could potential act as this) that can receive comments and suggestions and take a strategic view on how banding should be developed, organised and run. Until that body exists, it is very hard for the average bander to feel that their suggestions will be taken seriously or will have any weight.

The second is that every player, band, association etc. has it's own agenda, and only so much time (we are mainly all volunteers) to do the day to day management needed to keep that group running, let alone have time to think strategically or to consider where the organisation will be in a few years. This is something that will be very difficult to fix as if everyone is getting distracted by the bigger picture, we'll have no-one left to actually run the contests and bands that are the heart of the movement.

Finally, do you, at the YRBBC, and your colleagues up and down the country really want a couple of hundred or more long letters about what peoples personal opinions are - and if you are happy to get these will you have the time, inclination and power to collect these ideas together, consider them and act upon them. Without (as my second point) the fantastic work you already do suffering as a result.

---------

So, and I considered suggesting this a few months back, I think Barry's idea of sitting down, going through the fantastic wealth of well considered and debated arguments on this thread (and frankly the many other threads on tMP) is probably the best suggestion yet.

Lets take it a step further and put together a combined tMP response to UKBBA - a state of the banding nation report to be submitted, before the deadline, to inform the powers that be at the UKBBA (and elsewhere) of the views of a wide ranging sample of the banding world. I've said it before, but tMP is a fantastic opportunity to gauge opinion - lets start using it.

I'll throw my weight behind this and offer my services to prepare or review some of the report - not sure where I'll find time, but I'll do what I can. Between 10 or 15 of us we could easily produce a report listing some very clear facts, strong opinions and interesting debates which will hopefully help bring banding into the 21st century.

I'll hold off sending the full text of my comments to UKBBA until nearer the deadline - so far I'm up to about 2 pages of A4 and I've only just started!

Good luck everyone.
:clap:
 

Pauli Walnuts

Moderator
Staff member
Making Music do a grand job in all other aspects of amateur music making - and without any emphasis on competitions. Perhaps we ought to be speaking to them to gain an understanding of how they have managed to support grass roots music in the UK.
 

eflatbass

Supporting Member
Having sifted through all the rhetoric articulated throughout this thread, I have isolated the following list of issues, and areas for investigation and action. There was, as expected, a strong majority of posts related to the contesting element of banding, and rather less emphatic voice regarding the promotion and development of bands at ground level.

I do not have a personal axe to grind, because I am no longer actively involved in banding at any level; however, this does not exclude me from having an opinion. It would seem, therefore, that because a number of changes are being demanded, the sensible approach would be to isolate the most important of those proposed changes, and concentrate on representing these to the relevant authorities. Work towards getting one or two issues settled, and then move on to the next point. An attempt to dump a bundle of demands in front of the ruling bodies, simply would not work. For what it’s worth, I would tend to give priority to those pressing concerns of adjudication, and those pertinent to the contest-day draw system.


One very important recommendation I would make, is to urge every band to appoint a publicity and promotions officer, whose mandate would be to vigorously promote their band through whatever means they could invoke. I would call for a greater association with local schools and colleges, and for bands not to be fearful of inviting other local musical groups to participate in joint concerts, where a greater variety of music could be offered to the paying public.

Here are the points I have gleaned from previous posts on this thread:


  • Formation of a national body (all bandsmen/women to join and pay subscription), and a democratic voting system within bands to establish important issues for presentation to the relevant parties.

  • The National Championships to be owned by a national body under the democratic control of bandsmen/women.

  • Demand for minimum of 2 adjudicators at every contest.

  • A wider use of the total available adjudicators, rather than repetitive use of a limited number of adjudicators.

  • A re-opening of the debate regarding open or closed adjudication.

  • Removal of the present system of contest-day draws.

  • Introduction of own choice test pieces, particularly at the lower levels.

  • Review of area geographical discrepancies in numbers.

  • Every band to provide one person to give general help at contests.

  • Review of the high costs related to entry for the Nationals.

  • Promotion of banding via the media, including TV.

Do remember that the points I have listed are not necessarily my own personal opinions, although I certainly do agree with some of them.
 

$hytalk

Member
I've just written to ukbba. Everyone has to. If you don't then they have no mandate. A few people on here won't make a difference. At the areas, around 13000 bandspeople and a few hundred conductors turned up. I don't know how many unregistered players are out there that won't express an opinion, because they are pursuing the "art form" in the way they see best fit and it's not in the same way the contesting bands see it, who want their "sport". If people don't write nothing will happen. Yes committees exist and procedures are there to follow, but people are'nt using these means and have'nt for some time. I applaud the way that the ukbba have tried to reach a wider audience by using the internet. It is many peoples preferred method of communication in our lazy modern world. Come on folks we're only talking an e-mail!
 

brassneck

Active Member
eflatbass said:
Here are the points I have gleaned from previous posts on this thread:

... missing my two points

(1) Immediate removal of local gradings in favour of only using national gradings.
(2) Selection of test pieces to be made at regional level to counter the variability between areas, especially for lower sections.
 
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