Too many bands not enough players what's the answer?

I live in Bristol where there are more than 5 or 6 bands all scrapping for a small pool of players. Because of this players can move from band to band depending on what's good at the time. This makes it very difficult and no-one can ever claim to have a full set of 'settled' members.

The new year always signals the annual fight for players to fill spaces for the areas and this year is no different. Borrowing/poaching/stealing is par for the course at this time of year but it's not ideal and I feel some action must be taken to sort this out.

Maybe the answer is to combine two or three bands that constantly struggle to maintain a full complement? I don't know for sure but if anyone has any suggestions about the best way forward I'd appreciate it.

Has anyone come through a successful merger? Are there any horror stories out there I should be aware of?

Answers on a postcard please.......

tough question that toppy, there seems 2 b many options but i think theres a lot of players who just dont play in a band and altho they put their names on websites sayin they r looking, they neva seem 2 find a band, that seems strange 2 me as u sed there r many bands with lots of vacancies, merging cud b the answer but it depends on the rivalries in the area, if a band dunt like another band coz they r local 2 each other then it might not b a good move, on the other hand 2 local bands might have 2 get on very well so that they have a full content of players, its a shame really that mergers would mean less bands coz i think that in a few years time, bands will b small on numbers coz so many only have half a band, or bands might not have the money 2 run the band, or bands might lose their bandrooms, i feel that the r pro's and con's 2 every solution and unfortuneately there doesnt seem 2 b a solution only containing pro's, hope this hasnt let u down 2 much, i cud b very wrong but its just 1 mans view, something us bandsmen have come across many times b4, the dreaded adjudication, lol, hope u get some more info soon, and gd lk at the areas!

Rebel Tuba

Surley the answer is that bands should be selective in who they allow to join 'em.

As a progressive band we have players wanting to join on a weekly basis. Although the idea to battle for places keeps a band strong, so does only having players of a required standard being allowed to join.

Unfortunately some players believe themselves to be a better standard than they may be and therefore look for improving bands to join. this is not always the case and it should be down to the committees of bands to invite prospective players to audition as and when places come free.

There are a number of mediocre bands in and around Bristol, however joining of these bands would not mean any improvements in the Bristol banding movement: two medicre bands with 15 or so average players joining together, make one big brass band of average players. thus the better players will still want to move to the better bands in the area.

The problem will never go away, but hopefully the good bands will only keep loyal players that can and will do the job. The answer is bring the players through the same band, improving as they go as a team. Allow new players as positions come free, and then only if the players are up to the job.

The problem we need to address is the contest ringers that only help bands out at contetst times. these are the players we need to sift out of the movement (see other postings on committment).
do u think ringers shud just join a band and stick with them then?, u have 2 realize that players dont just stick with 1 band nemore, the loyalty with a large number of players seems 2 b limited, my band r fortunate that mant of their players have been there 10yrs plus, some even over 20 on and off neway, some of the really good players who have done it all at the top level sometimes get bored and thats y the do the ringers duty and help out the lower section bands, i dont think u can force a player 2 do something just coz it might b morally right, this doesnt mean 2 say that i agree with bands havin half a band of local talent and half a band of ringers, personally i dont, a friend of mine conducted a band last yr in the areas and came 3rd i think, the 2 bands ahead of them were full of ringers apparently, u c banding is a cruel world, many bands have their own problems, and if u r fortunate 2 b in a band with very few problems then u r very lucky, its pretty simple really, if ur in a band u like then stick with them, whether u b local talent or a ringer.


Active Member
Problem we have in london is too many deps and not enough regulars!. Once the top bands start "buying in" players then all the music colleges and sources of players in the area refuse to play for a band without being paid. If bands refused to pay these guys and just "made do" then we might start getting more regular players.

Unfortunatley it is getting so hard to find players for particular positions (try getting a Kit player that can read music in london! or Tuba Players!) that you end up with no option. We've just scraped it with basses this year but percussion is going to be a real problem.


Active Member
A couple of years ago we were approached by a local non-contesting band (we are 2nd section). They were low on numbers and were looking to merge. However the biggest sticking point was finances. They wanted their members to continue paying subs into their bank a/c and contribute nothing to ours! Our players to help at their engagements but the engagements would be done in their name! Needless to say we said thanks but no thanks.

Another problem with mergers is you create 1 band out of 2. Who decides if numbers are that great, which players play at contests. I know the 'best players', but what about those who have competed for years and suddenly cannot. OK they could try and improve, but in all probability they will walk away.

I think mergers are fraught with danger and you can end up not gaining anything from them.

Rebel Tuba

I agree trombone guy, but there is now too much of this ringer thing going around and too many band committees allowing it :twisted: . How to curb it is another thing.

Still these band seem to live with their consciences so good on 'em. Not the type of banding I will ever look for.
the committee at the junior band i played with 4 10 years have practically taken over the band, since the md left after 30+yrs with them u may aswell call them the hb committee band, lol, no good at all!


Active Member
davegp said:
I agree trombone guy, but there is now too much of this ringer thing going around and too many band committees allowing it :twisted: . How to curb it is another thing.

The only way to curb it would be for the contest promoters to establish rules limiting the number of ringers permitted. Sports leagues often have similar rules, for the same reason. Not sure how this would work in a band situation, but it seems to me to be the only way.


Oooo, the Bristol Scene!. Being from the area myself i know that the area is RIPE with poaching. The pool of players is small-but the bigger problem is commitment- there word doesn't mean anything here.
Not a practice goes by, when someone in our band explains that so and so band are after me. Its a nightmare, people move from band to band all the time. Certain well known 'names' in the area often offer to help conduct a band, but they have a secret agenda to steal your percussion section or cornets ect. We've lost a number of players this way, after theyhave been offered a little cash incentive. Certain players only turn up to practice with a mission to poach key players from another band - once the mission is complete you loose both players!.
Another problem is that so many players play for at least 2 bristol bands. This means that only a few bands can contest properly!. Split loyalties are common+lots of falling out going on. ARGGGHH.



Staff member
I think the situation with "ringers" is made worse when bands are only competing in contests once or twice a year. If they were more active, and playing more frequently, then it would make it harder for players to hop around and exploit the transfer system. i realise there are occasions when a switch needs to be made at short notice, but the pendulum does seem to have swung too far towards a free-for-all.
i think its a very sad situation really, should there b a rule that a player can only play 4 1 contesting band and then maybe play 4 as many non contesting bands as they want?it makes me wonder how some players can play 4 more than 1 band, wheres the time?!, ive had a situation of being involved with more than 1 band and its a very hard, heartless and ruthless situation, 1 band only cares about their band, if another band comes in2 the equasion it makes things worse!, trust me ive been there, done it and not really enjoyed it, theres 2 much pressure put on2 urself, but at the end of the day its up 2 u, this as ive sed b4 is "1 mans opinion", something which most bandsmen will have come across many times b4 wit hthe dreaded adjudication!, lol


Active Member
IIRC Registry rules are that a player cannot transfer more than twice within a 12 month period (or is it 6 month) however this does not take into account semi pro players (such as guards and music students) who once or twice a year get a bonus when a band comes along with a cahspot.

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