Professional/Forces players

Professionals, Yes or No?

  • Total voters


I haven't been a member of this site for long but I've come across a few posts from people that have knocked bands for using Professional or Forces players.
Being an army musician myself I find it a little upsetting to think that people dont want to see us in the brass band movement. Most brass players would have started playing in a brass band as a child and we will always have the hunger for contesting which is something you dont get in the army.
The same goes for collage students, I'm sure we will always have a passion for playing in a brass band and I dont see a problem with us being allowed to play. Besides, we are not only maintaining the high standards within the bands but also boosting numbers.
I was in Swansea for the area contest last month and saw that two of the first section bands had pro trumpet players as their principle cornets, one of which plays for the Halle and I belive the other plays for the BBC Welsh. I dont have a problem with that. If these players want to play for a brass band then so be it.

So, I suppose what I'd really like to find out is, what's the general opinion?
Pro's - in or out?

George BB

There should not, and as far as I'm aware, there is no difference in amateur and professional musicians. Except of course that full time Pros make their living from it (lucky people)
The very word amateur comes from the French for Lurve and if anyone didn't love it they certainly couldn't perform (music)
When I started Banding there were very strict divisions but common sense prevailed and they were swept away so if you love playing, then just do it whatever people class you as.


I don't think that there is anything wrong with "professionals" playing for the brass band movement. I think it's unfair to expect band players to give up brass banding simply because they have joined the forces or become a music student. Perhaps the people that do have a problem with this would benefit more by utilising the time they spend whinging by practicing to make themselves better players. That would be far more constructive.


There seems to be quite a division in the Brass Band World in the acceptance of 'professional' players in 'our amateur' circle and it is quite apparent on this forum. Strangely, I have noticed that these issues have become more prominent since the Areas started :? :?: :!:

Having been invloved with brass bands all my life - I even went carol playing before I was born :shock: - I would be horrified if I was stopped from playing in brass bands if I had chosen to study music or become a musician in the armed forces! Banding is an integral part of my life and my family life.

These 'professionals' are participating in a movement that currently needs continued encouragement and growth. In addition it is a hobby from which they gain an enourmous amount of personal satisifaction and enjoyment.

Do we want to stop this wealth of experience from contributing to the Brass movement??

From what I can see, most of the derogatory remarks are coming from people who expected their band to get a better result and there seem to be quite a few!

I am not critisising anyone for voicing these opinions on this forum (after all this what is a forum for?!), but I personally think people who slate bands for having 'professional' players have other agendas - would you still be complaining if you won?!! :twisted:


Staff member
This argument has been going around our association since its inception pretty much, and only recently have "professional" players been elegible to play in National Championships.

I'll stay with my original argument. Just because Player X is "professional" doesn;t nessecarily mean he's any better than Amatuer Y, or for that matter, it doesn't mean that he's any good at all...

Other arguments available on request...


Active Member
In my opinion it doesn't matter as, supposedly, you are all musicians who want to play in bands.

Personally though I don't think its right for players to be "bought in" for contests, as the majority of bandsman are there for the enjoyment rather than for profit.

In the past i had thought about joining up and if I had and people said that I couldn't play in bands because i was a "pro" I would be gutted.


Active Member
I have no problem whatsoever with it. We are all musicians, it just happens that some people make a living doing something else...

A band I used to play with had the fortune of a Marine Bandsman playing with us for a while. He definitely improved the band, not just while he was a member, but also afterwards. He was very encouraging and a great asset to the band. (Not just saying that because he had a habit of changing for gigs in front of the rest of us... :wink: )


Staff member
No I have no problem at all with "professional" players playing in bands.

I do find it interesting that some people slate bands for using forces players yet accept with open arms the real top men of the movement al la Peter Roberts, Roger Webster et al (for example). As far as I'm aware these players don't have "regular" jobs so their main source of income must be from playing. :?

Doesn't this constitute "professional"?

Or is it different because these players are deemed to be "one of our own"? :roll:

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
I don't have too much of a problem with it. If a pro player chooses to join a band, good on him, and good luck to the band!!

Howeever, I did get a bign dinged off at our States over Easter when D grade bands, who would have sounded rather blase, had B or A grade players filling in on important seats (eg solo cornets, solo/flugel horn, euph, etc). It's unfair because it means the D grade winners weren't really D grade. what if Pat Rafter and I partnered up for the local tennis comp? Would it be fair if we won???

One or 2 pros, go for it....ringins to cover your band's inadequacies---that just isn't cricket.


Active Member
As far as forces players goes Jason. Aren't you supposed to be 'soldiers first and tradesmen second?'
My second point is that professionalism, is surely a state of mind, an attitude, and NOT just getting paid for something.


My brother uses a great quote to distinguish between pros and amateurs:

Amateurs practice until they can get it right,
Professionals pracitce until they can't get it wrong!!!

2nd man down

Staff member
I can see no reason why proffessional or military musicians shouldn't be allowed to compete within the banding arena.

Our previous Bass trom eventually joined the Royal Marines as a bandsman and I think i speak for the whole band when i say it's an honour to have a member of her majesty's finest come and play with us again when he's home on leave...the only problem is that being a marine he feels compelled to run round the village 6 times, swim a freezing cold fiord and eliminate a terrorist group before he can rehearse, bless him.


Maestro said:
As far as forces players goes Jason. Aren't you supposed to be 'soldiers first and tradesmen second?'

Ummm....yes....well.....mmmmmmmmmmmmm :shock:

You know what we do Kev :wink:

Thank you all for your input into this subject, I think it's obvious already from the poll that the majority dont have a problem with us playing, which has put my mind at rest.

Thank you all


Active Member
Yes Jason, I know exactly what you do mate :roll:
My point was though, that you are not specifically paid as musicians when you join the forces, therefore that doesn't make you a 'professional' as some people think it does. :?: :shock:

Dave Euph

Being as up until not too long ago I was very seriously considering joining the forces for music after my degree, I certainly don't have a problem with them playing in brass bands!


Supporting Member
I could be completely wrong here, but I believe the reason some people have a problem with pros and army players in contesting bands is the perception that they are ringers, only drafted in for contests, who don't normally play with the bands in question. The logical argument would then be that your contest performance and gradings are not based on the true membership and abilities of the band. (I'm not saying I agree btw! :wink: )

From what I've heard about Staines this obviously isn't the case anyway, but even if it was - so what! I've known plenty of bands who couldn't survive summer and/or contesting seasons without a lot of deps at different times. If a band is in an area where they're lucky enough to be able to call on a pool of decent army and student players then good luck to them. I don't see why the profession of either dep or regular members should make a blind bit of difference.

The key is survival - if its the difference between a band keeping going or fizzling out, how can bringing in extra players for certain events, or having pros in the membership, possibly be a bad thing?


Active Member
i think the point here is about bringing people in, and because of the nature of professionals, especially in the forces, they aren't available all the time.


Active Member
1.) A forces musician isnt always the greatest musician you have ever heard (no disrespect to the forces players who are normally very good)
2.) If they do more that just turn up for the contest, then they are a prpper band member with every right to contest with their band.
3.) If your band has a problem with others doing it to gain an advantage, then go do the same.
4.) Its only a god damn contest and if you think a band won by having an unfair advantage then tough, just be pleased that you did your best and stuck to your "banding morals"!!

Why should a movement that is struggling in so many ways start kicking out players just cos a few people think it is unfair?

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