Trying to introduce Banding to the General Public

Mrs Fruity

Raspberry said:
I used to try to explain the joys of banding years ago and she still doesn't understand now - like going to contests listening to the same test piece - she must think we are insane!

I'm sure you all had similar situations?

I tried to explain contests to my friend at work four years ago- she still thinks the band sit in a box!!!


Staff member
midwalesman wrote

We need to get into the big festivals, i.e like Grimey going to the Proms. I hope that they dont get too many people moaning about their going since it is on at the same time as the open.

I seem to be in a minority over this one, but I don't think it is a good thing for banding that Grimethorpe are doing this. People have spoken about "a prestigious invitation to take part in the proms", whereas in fact they have been asked to play in proms in the park. I attended the first of these in Hyde Park, largely at the insistence of my daughter, and found that what it consisted of was music reduced to its lowest denomination, a selection of lollipops to keep the crowds happy until the main course of the evening, when they could join in with the events in the Albert Hall via the big screen.

Whilst there is a market for that type of music, to me it is just serving to perpetuate the stereotypical view of the brass band on the bandstand, rather than recognising banding's contribution to the serious musical life of the country. Maybe I am in a minority of one on this issue, but I should be interested to know what other people think.


Active Member
Wasn't Acid Brass supposed to bring Brass Bands to the masses?? Great reception at Edinburgh Festival etc. It didn't really happen though did it? Still, a great idea and well executed.


Active Member
jonford said:
One thing I have noticed is that brass bands arent even mentioned in the national curriculum at school.

Ello Fordy, was wonderin how long it'd be before you showed your face on here ;)

I think i seem to remember hearing some band pieces through gcse and a level.. but it was only cheese and marches they had the bands playing.. :D fitting us nicely into their stereotype.. how kind



At the end of the day, in many ways I agree with you about the image but at least they are connected with the name of the proms. Little village halls maybe nice, but after playing at least 30 of them a year it really does get me down. We have at least a few festivals to play in this year which will make it interesting. As for the masses, then I feel that for decades we have underestimated our audience. Do we really think that they only go to brass band concerts ? Nah, I've interviewed loads of people from our audiences over the last year and they have been musically interested in various areas of the music world, from pop to classical music etc. I am quite happy to play crowd pleasing cheese, but I think to every player a piece on a programme should be musically satisfying and stretches the players technique or musicality. There are pieces on many bands programmes that are recycled every so often i a new arrangement. why o Why do we do that. How many Glenn Miller specials can a person handle. It is time to get our heads out of the 19th century and see what music is in the 21st!! After the announcement of Enigma Variations as test piece for the Nationals I'm beginning to lose my mind. orchestral transcription!!

There is so much more a band can play. Even the orchestral transcriptions are mostly those of Berlioz or before!! Where is the Mahler, or Bruckner or stuff like that...we have ditties of Verdi...but do we have to stick to the music of the early 1800's.

Going back to the image of banding...many people have tried to improve the profile of banding, 70's Elgar Howarth, 30's Herbert Wheatley..i.e the bloke who pestered Elgar to write his suite for band and also he was involved in getting Bantock and Holst interested in banding. Yet with every step forward that someone tries to make there are many more who want to drag banding back into the dark ages!! We are at a stage where young people are not interested in banding. Formerly, young people were introduced to banding by fathers or brothers who worked in industry which had bands connected. There is nowhere left for banding to the very best...with accepted change, a broader interaction with other musical genres and an improved youth recruitment it will stay much the same, otherwise in Britain it is going to die out!!

It is a sad state of affairs indeed, with music in schools suffering, music in universities suffering, industries suffering ( or almost dead!!) where is the future of a movement which has relied on the young and the working class? The question should be, how are we going to change....we need to change..yet these people who rant about "the roots, we must remember the roots !!" are the ones which are going to ultimately kill off banding. These people are probably the same type of people who forecasted that Elgar Howarth's Fireworks would prompt banding to die, the addition of percussion would take away or hide the brass playing, the new repertoire would drive the whole audience away. yet we are still here...

New repertoire, a new contest structurte and more PR...with more being done to incorporate other musical magazines to do features. We have a banding press which writes contest reports for players who already know what the score is!! Eh......Who outside banding gives a t**s abouty contests or concerts outside the banding press. For new repertoire, the media should introduce articles on contemporary music, not just classical but other genres. Classic FM or BBC music magazine has articles about Jazz and world music ? Why cant we have articles like that in the press for brass bands ? Surely, since we write to ourselves then we might as well gradually educate ourselves on what is happening in the wider musical world rather than sit in our own ever decreasing world!!



If anyone wants a silver lining (perhaps a bit tarnished, but silver nonetheless.) Richard pointed out the dismal position of brass banding in the UK. I think you should take some heart that at least there are hundreds of bands, you have a banding press, brass bands are heard on the radio (no mater how limited.) Brass Band CDs are available. So as under appreciated, under-understood and un-respected you feel, remember it's worse elsewhere.

satchmo shaz

Active Member
yes, I think we have to market ourselves a bit more and raise awareness of brass bands and what they do.

I am the MD and publicity officer for my band and last year they were in the papers around 70 times!!...... (different local papers), lots of mentions on local radio, 6 broadcasts on local radio and 1 local television appearance!

not bad for a 4th section band........ but it has helped us get more concerts and more players in the senior and training band. I have also secured local grants and funding which has meant new equipment , new music and overall success of the band........ yes its hard work but its amazing the effect it has on the general public....... everyone wants to know how the band is doing etc, so folks lets market the brass band movement as a whole and let joe public know what we are about :wink:


IMHO, after Brassed Off, not a lot was done to keep brass banding in the public light. It wasn't the fault of any band, I think it was the media for not giving more "air-time".

There have been a couple of documentaries about banding done, the most recent, involving the Desford bands, was only on Sky last year, and 5 years ago, one was done on Kirkby at the Areas, limited to Midland's regional television. If one could be done on terrestrial for everyone to see, no matter how big or small a band, it would help us all tremendously.


Active Member
In the last 12 months Harrogate Band have appeared on Heartbeat and Emmerdale, and we had a documentary about the band shown on YTV which attracted a lot of favourable attention. But most of what bands do, as we've seen above, is catagorised as 'regional' and therefore of minority interest, or at least that's how the thinking goes.

PR is criticial to any organisation but we have to work very hard just to stand still, and we're reliant on 'national' publicity like Brassed Off to bring us - temporarily - back into the spotlight.

Now that the BFBB has lost control of the National Finals this is surely something they must turn their attention to. In needs to be a national organisation with sufficient clout to tackle the BBC and national media and work for parity with folk music, jazz etc. which enjoy considerably more coverage and airtime.