Returning to Group Playing, What’s your Band doing?

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
CV19 is still with us but for the moment at least in a very much contained and regulated way ... off course it may all go pear shaped again. The last six months has flown by but in a very different way as there’s been no banding here or rather none that I’ve engaged in. My own Band has looked at small group playing and as far as I know that’s worked well enough. Personally I’m reluctant to unnecessarily mix with others but respect their choice to do so (provided that they do so in a controlled and well thought out way).

My Band has plans to return to group playing, a route towards it but no dates. I wonder what plans for and progress towards that goal other Bands have made for returning to playing?
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
We have our own bandroom, with a good sized floor area - 12m x 7m. We're going to start back with very small groups (6) and work up to small groups (15). Windows wide open for ventilation, using bell covers, hard plastic seats to be wiped down before and after, etc, to mitigate risk. It'll be a faff, but it'll be much better than nothing.
 

dennis78

New Member
One of the bands I play with are back together playing. They have to ware muzzles and bell covers. I will not return to group settings until all this BS is over. I’m not scared of some silly virus and will not be made to dress up like a damn fool to perpetrate this lie being fed to all countries. Been spending a lot of time on my kayak fishing
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
One of the bands I play with are back together playing. They have to wear muzzles and bell covers. I will not return to group settings until all this BS is over. I’m not scared of some silly virus and will not be made to dress up like a damn fool to perpetrate this lie being fed to all countries. Been spending a lot of time on my kayak fishing
@dennis78 - I totally agree with you.
I don't understand how anyone can possibly be expected to play any brass or woodwind instrument whilst wearing a face mask - and any kind of cover over the bell is going to play havoc with the sound. I've got a Shhmoot for my baritone, and whilst very useful for keeping the neighbours happy if I practise in the evenings, it seriously distorts the sound.
As for the bug; if we believe all we're told, I ought to be a prime case for getting wiped out by it - being 73, had one confirmed and two probable heart attacks, two lots of heart surgery (the second being a quad heart by-pass), and having lungs which were permanently messed up by being gassed with phosgene in an industrial accident when I was 19. I caught the bug at the end of March, had a few days in bed, lots of rest, fluids and vitamin C, and I was over it in about 5 days. And info has emerged to the effect that nearly half the hospitalised cases of Covid-19 actually caught the bug whilst they were in hospital for something else, and not before!
As for the spike in cases three or four weeks ago, which got that shower in Westminster in a right tizzy - anyone who's done a degree or worked in a university (which includes most cabinet ministers and Johnson himself) could tell them why it happened, why it happened when it did, and why confirmed cases soared in towns and cities with universities - Fresher Flu.
Every autumn, first year students head off the the colleges; for many, if not most, it's their first time away from home, for overseas students, it will be their first time living abroad, they leave behind the friends they made through school and are surrounded by hundreds or thousands of strangers, in a radically different environment, bombarded with all sorts of info about how their college works and how the course is set up - it's no surprise that many of them get a bit stressed - and their bodies say "the hell with this, I need a break" and they go down with one bug or another - commonly known as Fresher Flu. Colds, flu, whatever - and this year, some of them with Covid-19. At that age, virtually 100% of them stand more chance of dying from a lightning strike than from any of the corona viruses - so, surprise! A couple of weeks later, they're as right as rain.
Meantime, in La-La Land, the government 'scientists' freak out - again - and demand yet another lockdown . . .
Every winter, without exception, tens of thousands of people die from plain ol' Bog Standard Seasonal Flu. But I'm damned if I can remember any government shutting down industry and commerce and the education system system for months on end because of it - nor can I remember NHS bosses cancelling millions of cancer treatments, vital operations, and vital diagnostic scans "to protect the NHS!" As it is, people have already started dying from untreated cancer and cardiac conditions - and many more will continue to do so for years, because whilst some nurses have reported doing full 12 hours shifts without seeing a single patient, people with untreated and undiagnosed conditions have either died or progressed from 'curable' to terminal'. And there was silly old me thinking that the NHS was supposed to protect us . . .
Frankly, I'd sooner take medical advice from a reasonably intelligent child than I would from the blundering, cowardly, criminally irresponsible morons who call themselves our 'government', or from their junk 'scientific advisers' who have a 20 year track record of making 'projections' which turn out to be wrong by several orders of magnitude.
I have news for them; Parliament can pass laws to prohibit all sorts of things - but they cannot abolish death.
Jack E
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Another unhappy bunny here. I have no doubt that CV19 is a real and contagious hazard that does kill, so I’m keeping my head down and doing my best to shield from it. If I’d wanted to then up until today I could could have mixed at quite close quarters with others in a pub or restaurant/cafe but it wouldn’t have been OK for me to play in a music group. I might have been allowed to fly and so breath air passed through the lungs of others but it isn’t safe for me to play. It seems that there are one set of rules for commercial ‘leisure’ and another for things that don’t generate income. Recently in Bristol 700 odd people gathered together in an empty warehouse for a rave, they clearly disobey the law and (virtually all) get but a slapped wrist yet I can’t play music with others in a responsible way.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m for people being responsible and know Government’s can’t get all the right answers, but to be honest this second lockdown should never have been necessary and I don’t like my liberties being curtailed when others do or are allowed to do as they please. Why is this second lockdown deemed necessary? It’s because we miserably failed to stamp out CV19 over the summer, that a second wave was going to happen is clear from the history books ... humans often fail to understand that we sometimes make the same mistakes as long past generations.

Oh well, we cannot change the World. I just observe that when populations get too large or too dense then Mother Nature has a cull - be glad if you don’t live in a City.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
I just observe that when populations get too large or too dense then Mother Nature has a cull - be glad if you don’t live in a City.
With you on that, 2nd Tenor - and I'm happy to say that I learnt a great deal of sense and wisdom on this subject from reading a book called 'The Human Zoo', written by a naturalist named Desmond Morris (1960s, I think). He pointed out that, although big cities were commonly referred to as 'jungles', they were in fact far more akin to zoos in the effect that they had on the people who lived in them - and he provided a wealth of verifiable examples to back up his argument.
I moved out of the last city in which I was incarcerated (force of circumstances) nearly 17 years ago, and have lived ever since on a beef cattle farm, a couple of miles out of Buxton (whose population is only about 23,000 people).
Would I go back to living in a city? You'd have to make my coffin out of boiler-plate, and weld the lid on!
With best regards,
Jack
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Bell covers don't affect the sound - they're just an elasticated circle of thin material. We held several rehearsals with all players using them before we shut down again this week; you can't tell the sound or blowing difference. It's nothing like a mute, much less a practice mute such as a 'sshhmute', which is designed to let through as little sound as possible. Apples and oranges.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Bell covers don't affect the sound ...

I'm afraid I'd have to take issue with you on this. We've been using them since restarting full band rehearsals, and they are uniformly disliked by the membership. There is a noticeable reduction in volume of sound, and in the case of cornets and trombones a noticeable change in the timbre - less brightness of sound in particular, and a general deadening effect. Plus on all instruments intonation is adversely affected in the lower and higher registers.
On the plus side, they would be great for playing testpiece passages in the middle register where a softer dynamic and tone colour is desirable ...
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
We must be using entirely different constructions of cover, as I haven't been able to tell a difference with either my face or my ears. Perhaps placebo is also playing a part?
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
I have no idea what make they are or where they came from; I wasn't aware there was more than one type ...
 

David Evans

Active Member
Well Jack, good to see you are still upright and able to rail against this government’s woeful management of this pandemic.
Out of interest when was your positive COVID-19 test and how long did you have to wait for the answer?
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Well Jack, good to see you are still upright and able to rail against this government’s woeful management of this pandemic.
Out of interest when was your positive COVID-19 test and how long did you have to wait for the answer?

Interesting point in that without some form of certification one can only believe what ailment one has suffered rather than prove it. I don’t doubt that there are several nasty bugs in circulation at the moment - CV19 might be dominant but the other stuff isn’t necessarily displaced by it. Do some people get CV19 and make a very good recovery? From what I read almost all do and that includes some with pre-existing health conditions - I’m fit and hope to survive if I get CV19, but to some extent it’s a lottery as to who lives, who dies and who has long Covid.

I wouldn’t say that this Government has completely bungled management of CV19, they have a difficult task and some other countries have faired worse. Labour would likely have managed no better and arguably worse. Personally I do, as somewhere in my comments above, believe that we should have been far more active over the summer to prevent a second wave but unfortunately commerce and the public just wouldn’t have accepted the necessary restrictions.

Dave, as (I assume) a retired Doctor have you a clinical view as to better ways forward with managing CV19?
 
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2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
It’s a while since any of us did much playing and I’m wondering what the future might bring ... as opposed to what we would like or demand the future to bring.

The vaccination program is going forward at a pace and both infection rates and deaths are falling, well that’s the case in the reports that I’m reading. Change, positive change, is happening but I wonder how this will all impact on Banding. The PM speaks to The Nation on the 22nd and he seems to be very much focused on data rather than dates - sensible IMHO - but that might mean a very slow return to normal, or rather a new normal. There is talk too that Covid 19 and variants of it will be around for years to come and that it will be a winter season illness (killer?), so another hazard that might severely impact on our Banding activities. Perhaps Bands might even only rehearse and perform for a restricted part of the year, to me that’s an upsetting prospect but still a better situation than what we currently have.

How do people think that the coming months will unfold and what do they think Bands can do to make the best of things?
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I'm sure this will continue to vary from country to country and, in the case of some geographically large countries, from region to region. I live in Ontario and there is currently no plan to return to live performances. Our vaccination plan has not been very effective so far, due to a lack of supply for the past 2 - 3 weeks, so that is also impacting any potential restart. Shortages of supply appear to have passed with deliveries of vaccines from the manufacturers now ramping up. We also have some flare up locations, notably St. John's, Newfoundland where variants have spiked resulting in a local lock down situation. I read of similar issues in Melbourne, Australia last week. I fear that these variants will further extend limitations and maybe even result in more lock down situations. There is also contradictory information surrounding the veracity of vaccines, especially in relation to the variants. We've just concluded a so-called "Stay at Home" order in parts of Ontario, with Toronto and immediately surrounding areas still under the order. Yesterday, the Medical Officer of Health for Toronto stated that she had never been more concerned about Covid 19 than she is now.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
When will things 'get back to normal'? I'm beginning to think that they already have; that this is the new 'normal'. Hope to God I'm wrong.

Jack E
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
The vaccine will make a big difference, never fear Jack. With enough people vaccinated to achieve (the much-misused term) herd immunity, we'll be able to live lives around each other again pretty safely. We're not there yet, but vaccine coverage increases every day at the moment, and I suspect a normal banding season will be able to resume from Autumn 2021. Fingers crossed!
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
@MoominDave - yes, but that mob in SAGE are already wittering on about new strains, existing vaccines not being effective against them, and suggesting that some restrictions may NEVER be lifted; and when has the government even questioned what SAGE has told them to do? Call me cynical, but after nearly a year of 'promises', and the end being put back and put back and put back, I'll believe it when I see it.

In any case, after 11 months of no horse riding, no playing in band, and living in virtual solitary confinement, my physical health has gone to pot as has my mental health - so I've no idea whether or not I'll be capable of playing in a band ever, regardless of lockdown being lifted.

The other point is that all the polls for months now show the same result; by about a 2 : 1 majority, most people in this country don't want restrictions lifted - they want them made even more oppressive! As the government in concert with the media have spent the best part of a year doing their level best to terrify people into believing that a virus which has the same lethality as Seasonal Flu is on a par with Bubonic Plague, the chances of them being able to lift restrictions without a massive backlash from the fearful seem pretty remote. Seasonal Flu kills tens of thousands every winter - including some people who are young and in excellent health - but who ever demanded that education, trade and industry should be shut down because of that? Yet, here we are, living with restrictions the like of which have never existed in Britain before, not even in wartime.

When I read about the utter blind panic some people have got themselves into, resulting in physical violence, criminal charges, people being fined £200 because they picked up a take away coffee whilst on a walk, mothers in their 20s dying of cancer because their chemotherapy was cancelled or their scans were cancelled, paediatricians saying that their wards have more children admitted for psychiatric problems than they do for physical illness or injury - yet nurses saying they've been doing 12 hour shifts without seeing one patient - and primary school age children committing suicide because they're convinced that they will NEVER be able to see their friends again, I feel a combination of utter despair for our children, and utter fury against those responsible AND against the purblind idiots who are STILL cheering them on.

If, at some point in the future, somebody complains to me that they've lost their job, or their business, or their home, or that their children can't find any sort of job, let alone one leading to a career, the first question I'll ask them is "Did you support the blanket lockdown?" If they answer "Yes", I'll tell them "Serve you right!" - and I'll reserve my sympathy for their children, who are totally innocent of having caused lockdown, yet who have already suffered the most, and will continue to do so for decades to come. In my anything but humble opinion, it wasn't Covid-19 that caused the disaster we face - as it has barely impacted at all on the national death statistics (which, for 2020, were below average); it was lockdown which did the real damage.

Jack E.
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I see that whatever else you may be worried about not being able to do, you've not lost your ability to rant Jack! :)

Chin up, it'll be okay.
Well said Dave......a little levity a day is what we all need. I agree with some of Jack's rant as I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. I'm 75, retired (from work and playing), live alone and can't ride a horse but I do try to get out for a walk most days (I live in Ontario so sometimes weather conditions make that risky with snow, ice or a combination (and often minus friggin' zero Celsius). Walking gets me outside, provides some exercise and fresh air; it also helps me retain my sanity. It will be okay, different in some ways, but that's okay too.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I think that it’s been difficult on all of us and whilst I don’t think that Jack’s analysis is completely correct I’ve a deal of sympathy for him. The last year has been pretty hard on me too and in our own individual pains we can more easily see the suffering of others.

The lockdowns and SAGE. ‘If wishes were horses then beggars would ride’ and so it is with CV19 in that regardless of what I want - or wish for - CV19, like the Sea’s tide, will follow what course it chooses. I’m not particularly critical of Boris but if he has got one thing wrong it is following public opinion in preference to science. I firmly believe that had he been more cautious earlier in this pandemic (ie. followed the SAGE advice more closely and gone for early rather than forced intervention) them the Pandemic’s effects would actually have been less.

As an aside I have friends who know people in China. The Chinese are bemused about our high death and infection rates. In response to CV19 the Chinese authorities clamped down very very hard and they don’t worry about public opinion. People in China are, mostly and typically, now going about their daily business as normal.

An early exit from lockdown? I’m with those who say that we should do it slowly; however I have a personal want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, indeed I’m feeling the pain too and so need a quick return. Like the (factual) Laws of Science it’s just a fact that sometimes what you want, or even need, and what you can have can’t be matched. That’s life, and distressing as it is one has to make the best of things - it’s still all painful though and Jack has my sympathy.
 
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