Ways To Improve Banding

sparkling_quavers

Active Member
Mark Bousie said:
Obviously, can't disagree with the more beer and less politics within bands suggestions, but more seriously I really think we need just one national organisation ( not a few relatively inaffective ones who rarely communicate) made up of intelligent, forward looking people. We really need something (somebody) to get to grips with the issues of publicising our movement, changing the image held by a lot of the general public, recruiting and keeping players, education and generally taking the dinosaur forward ( I don't mean this to sound too negative!).

couldn't agree more Mark... they could find one member of staff here :lol:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Mark Bousie said:
Obviously, can't disagree with the more beer and less politics within bands suggestions, but more seriously I really think we need just one national organisation ( not a few relatively inaffective ones who rarely communicate) made up of intelligent, forward looking people. We really need something (somebody) to get to grips with the issues of publicising our movement, changing the image held by a lot of the general public, recruiting and keeping players, education and generally taking the dinosaur forward ( I don't mean this to sound too negative!).

I'm with u there! God knows I've been trying to allow ppl to see the wood from the trees, like I say!

We need a whole new system, we have an untapped resource here, shame nobody is doing anything about it. IMHO, composers are gonna have to make a big turn as well if banding is to change, it's all getting a bit old-fashioned now, in my opinion.
 

Despot

Member
Form a committee to outlaw certain uniform types and colour combinations.

Sometimes you have to ask yourself are they players or pimps! :D

No, but seriously, the uniform can look dated and garish! Do some bands really give the image of a serious musical ensemble?
 

midwalesman

Member
Changes

Mr Bousie, can't agree with you more on this subject and also the other ones that support this idea. Certainly the educational aspect of both dealing with young people and also with the image of banding. As I've said in many other threads, the distinct lack of organisation on a major scale is unbelieveable for a movement which has such a large scale geographic dispersment. A committee or national body could instil several other aspects which could initiate change at a relatively acceptable rate to everyone, after all who wants to play in a musical group which is perceived as musical museum. The committee/national body could:-

1) Deal with a musical policy of test pieces for each contest, with clear definitions over a year of which contest will have a comissioned contemporary piece and which will introduce older original music.

2) Deal with an education policy which considers the loss of young players between the end of school and university (I think there'd be a staggering drop out rate!). One of the first things to consider could be a national register compiled by a main body which, with the co operation of local education authorities and musical systems, will have a database of school leavers, their ability, the place/university that they will attend or place in which they are going to work or even stating that they are remaining in the area. Bands could then subscribe to this database every year or when they have a vacancy and the numbers would not be hard to find. Bands get players, players get bands ??? No problem there I think. The bands could pay a fee per year for administration fees??? What you think ?

3) How about a National Body which could porganise for top bandsmen to help lower section bands in preparation for contests. Giving those at the top a chance to pass on their experience to young, unexperienced etc players. A visable effort structured correctly could influence a lot of players that themselves would never have thought that they would get help from those at the top of the tree. For the players mentioned above surely it would be encouraged to improve and get to the top ?? (Perhaps!?!) (Maybe!?!) I know some top bands have organised workshops but if the organisation was better it could be spread accross the UK. I also know that there are workshops given by David Hirst, not too sure what happens in them, but surely they must be a way forward.

4) Exploring the structure of contests, i.e looking at the contests on the continent and observing whether the "own choice" and "test piece" route is the best way forward (as it seems to be everywhere else in the world!)
There is also the financial aspect of contests, possible help with funding for some bands which struggle with the costs of going to a contest. And perhaps look into having all the contests linked to each other and the contest year finishing in London where a true National Champion could be crowned by taking the average placings of the bands in the Masters Open and Nationals. That would mean that it would indeed be like a football league system. The two bands at the bottom get relegated and the ones from the first section would be promoted. Hence the best band will win and be National Champions and the bands who finish on average at the bottom will be relegated ??

5) Bands would be happier subscribing to an official body which had some teeth and could actually do something because they would have more influence on the banding movement in total.

6) Advertising and promoting the movement is essential and getting as much attention as possible in any media, not just in the Bandsman etc but in other magazines such as BBC music magazine (after all Harry Mortimer worked for the BeeB for years and years as musical advisor), the radio adviser now, Mr Hindmarsh (I think??) should be given more media space. Young players such as the Horn player from Hepworth (sorry very bad at remembering names, but I'll buy you a drink in the Area contest!), and their Euph player, Emma, not to mention the efforts of those who attend the National Youth bands should have more features. If we have them in the magazines explaining how much fun it is to play in an organisation like that then more on the outside of banding will take notice. INSTEAD we get re runs of Brassed Off which, in my opinion, functioned well in bringing banding to the general public, sadly giving the wrong image of banding, instead of getting rid of the cloth cap, it put the cap not only over the top of the head but over the eyes and nose!!
I think we should get behind all the younger players, especially in competitions such as Young Musician of the Year contests...I had a conversation on our band bus last night about the Young Musician contest and in this conversation he mentioned that he and a few others went to the Brass final and supported their Horn player at the actual venue. Now that is something that should be emulated throughout banding.
 

bagpuss

Active Member
Roger13 said:
More real music, and a lot less of the 'clever' stuff. Then bands and audiences alike can enjoy it all!

Absolutely 100% agree. There are many composers that need to take note of that sentiment!!!

Also think that adjudicators should be better 'qualified' and therefore more accountable as to the results they give rather than a bit of a lottery with certain (nameless) adjudicators. I know that everyone gripes at adjudicators but when 25 bands say as one that a particular result was tosh, then not all of them can be acting upon 'sour grapes' some of them (by law of averages) MUST have a genuine gripe.

Also, I think that most (if not all) treasurers should undergo surgery to make them able to release the purse strings when needed, if you see what I mean!!!! Less tightness from treasurers!!!! :oops: :oops: :lol: :lol:



Puss
 

satchmo shaz

Active Member
In a nut shell we have to as a movement ;-

1/ encourage new brass and percussion players ourselves and not rely on the education system via training bands eg teach them ourselves ensuring the future of brass bands

2/ promote ourselves more via all media outlets (charity work etc)

3/ simplfy our rules for competition, registration etc to encourage more attendance at contests and hopefully have more contests!

4/ play music that the audiences will like and listen to!

well there's my views
 

jambo

Member
Re: Changes

midwalesman said:
As I've said in many other threads, the distinct lack of organisation on a major scale is unbelieveable for a movement which has such a large scale geographic dispersment. A committee or national body could instil several other aspects which could initiate change at a relatively acceptable rate to everyone, after all who wants to play in a musical group which is perceived as musical museum. The committee/national body could:-.................

Flipping 'eck Dick, well said but...In one breath?

Haven't we spoken about the datbase thing before? get on it, good idea, not just for leavers either.

Well said Bousie, couldn't agree more either.

However, Lauradoll....what a gem...More Beer!

Nuff said, to the pub and we'll right all the banding wrongs!

At the Hudds social maybe?



:bounce
 

midwalesman

Member
Jambo knows the tune!

Many thanks for the encouragement from Jambo, I'm working on my circular breathing whilst drinking 2 pints of beer!

The audience angle is interesting. What do audiences really want ? Which context are we talking about ? The general audience that attends concerts but rarely if ever goes to the contest. If test pieces are not played in concert situations we won't get more people going to the contest. Audiences who go every Spring and Autumn are not the same as those who go to the area contest. Whilst if you played a concert piece at a contest it would certainly create a new interest for a different audience other than the armchair/shadow adjudicator that normally attends the contest. However, as much as it may seem strange, every band playing a challenging large scale concert piece in a competition would surely be a musical step backwards. If the tables were turned and bands played test pieces, with some explanation to the audience ( i.e Maunsell Forts, this piece has no nicey nicey story, it is a series of images that live within the context of the composers vision. So trying to guess the image created inside the composer is totally pointless, it is up to you the audience to create your own images and not fit a stereotype). The ethos of hearing trashy over sentimental music might be quite nice for the concert going punter but it is a tedious experience for a test piece (i.e Chivalry, one cheesy tune after another). Contests at this moment in time are the only way that our repertoire evolves. Sticking a gagging order, or in academic terms 'dumbing down' in contests will only further restrict the repertoire that we now play.

All the other points that people have made, especially encouraging youth by doing a bit of hands on work is a fantastic idea, BUT who exactly is going to co-ordinate such things? Bands themselves are limited in the amount of time that is given to working on projects, sadly, but it is reality.

As with many other musical cultures and with sentiments on here, it will take one person or organisation to grab this movement by the scruff of the neck and drag it along a few more steps up the ladder as the water rises rapidly up the lower steps!

And finally, wasn't there an organisation or conference in the 90's that suggested these changes and the conservative elemrnt of our movement moaned and moaned at their poking their noses into some other associations business. I think Howard Snell and a few others were involved in this idea. Shame it did not continue!

enough!
 

ScrapingtheBottom

Active Member
He's back, after an extended absence (and on solo trombone too he must have annoyed someone up there :D ).

Just thought I'd chip my tupence in.

The thing that helped me when I was a nipper was not sticking to one genre. I played in Swing Bands, Orchestras, Trombone Choirs etc etc and this put banding into perspective and it also helped me develop as a performer. I think we should encourage young brass players to get out there and experience the wealth of musical styles that are out there. Playing in other types of ensemble has really made me realise how special the brass band is and what a great environment it is for learning your instrument. The musicality that you gain whilst playing in an orchestra can be brought back into the band room and improve the band sound. I think it also stops bands becoming to insular - we have to realise that within the communities we play in there are other musical groups out there that we should be striving to make links with.

But then again, what do I know.

PS Also, when I played in the University Orchestra I had a very nice thing said to me by a bassoon player (it made my head swell, but not just for me for the brass banding community):

"Do you play in a brass band?" says she
"Yes" says I
"I thought so because you sound really good" says she
"Why thank-you" say I whilst resisting the urge to faint.

Seriously though, the more players we get out into the big wide world of music the more people will realise that brass bands are around and are seriously musical.

PPS We're in our new bandroom now!!!
 

horn1

Member
There's been some interesting ideas so far most of which I agree with, I particularly like the idea of a national governing body.

I think one of the biggest problems at the moment is the take up of instruments by school age children and the retention of these players. When I began playing it was because my primary school had a band and I was the type to volunteer for anything! My family has no musical background and without this opportunity I doubt I'd have ever started playing at all. I'm attempting to recreate this type of opportunity at the school I teach in at the moment. We have a number of brass instruments and in return for ccommitment from the students they will be provided with tuition and an instrument.

At the risk of being shot down in flames. One of the problems I think the banding world has in terms of recruitment is youth bands (ducking for cover). Youth Bands are excellent, they provide a great service in teaching our youngsters and giving them the experience of playing in a band setting. However, I wonder if anyone has ever looked at the rate of retention of players once they are too old for the youth bands? I sometimes feel that youth bands don't always give an acurate picture of banding to younger players. When they join a 'senior' band it can often come as quite a shock to them that the things they have enjoyed in the youth section are no longer there. For example - entertainment contests are a large part of the youth bands calender, this isn't always so in main stream banding. The other problem, I feel, is that as most bands have a very diverse range of ages, going from a youth band with all your friends to a band with many older people could be a huge shock.
Now I'm not saying that this is the fault of the youth bands or that it is their problem alone. Maybe mainstream banding should look to the youth bands for inspiration - more entertainments contests, more dynamic and innovative concert programs (and I don't really mean all singing and dancing, we can be innovative without dumbing down). One thing that I also think would help a great deal is a better partnership between youth and senior bands, maybe a way to ease the transition from one to the other for players? I really think that if we could solve some of these issues we would retain a great deal more of our youth players.

It may be obvious to some of you that I didn't come through the youth band system, so I'm not speaking through personal experience. However as a player and a teacher I have witnessed some of the things I express my concern about, BUT it's only my opinion!!! (please don't hate me!! :wink: )
 

midwalesman

Member
Shot down in flames!!??

I don't think anyone can be shot down in flames because each of us has grown up and progressed in different ways. For instance who would have thought that an international trumpeter was a concert pianist until his mid teens and then got bored of that and decided to learn the trumpet i.e Sergei Nakaraikov (spelling probably wrong) or the situation in which Wynton Marsalis grew up learning jazz (from his dad Ellis) and then subsequently learnt the classical repertoire via education, thus being one of the best cross over artistist (on a brass instrument). Taking my musical journey as an example. My music teacherin juniour school wanted me to play violin, but I wanted trumpet. The rest shows like this:-
1) Join school group and local junior band and schools orchestra
2) Enjoy solo and ensemble competitions within school environment and externally around Wales.
3) Join local youth band, area schools band, wind band.
4) join county Youth wind and brass bands, and eventually youth orchestra at 14 and join senior band.
5) Join National Youth Band of Wales and National Youth band of GB.
6) Play in University of Wales Symphonic Wind band and tour.
7) Go to Hudds University, play in the Uni brass band (for many, many, many years and join B+R in the second semester.

Thats the route that many will follow but not all. My family are not musical, and so self motivation and teacher encouragement is important and I think you are doing a great job in encouraging your kids to play (u need any cornet tutors ???lol).
I may have stated my position on the database plan on too specific a category of people. What you said about the drop out rate between school and senior bands is absolutely correct, and the reasons that you have given are also spot on. I think the emphasis changes when you leave the school/youth band system and enter the contesting senior band. The emphasis I feel moves from encouragement to do their best to pressure to be perfect (especially as the standard of senior bands increase by section), thus the aspect of fun is lessened. With the uncertain future concerning university students tuition fees, it's all rather worrying that when the extended fees will be introduced students may try to do more paid work to try and avoid excessive debts. This will mean that total dedication to any band, let alone a Championship section band will become particularly difficult. There has been a database concerning youth players to senior bands discussed and thought about in the banding media (so I have heard (i.e rumours!)) but if anyone has the time to set this up I would gladly help!
As for innovative concert programmes I am with you 100% but I feel that some people will argue that we are currently playing what the audience wants since we manage to categorise all audience members as people who enjoy easy listening pieces and hate pieces which bands categorise as test pieces or heavy pieces!

Anyway, good points Nicola...carry on giving your opinions, they seemed to be based on valid points.
 
horn1 said:
I think one of the biggest problems at the moment is the take up of instruments by school age children and the retention of these players. When I began playing it was because my primary school had a band and I was the type to volunteer for anything! My family has no musical background and without this opportunity I doubt I'd have ever started playing at all. I'm attempting to recreate this type of opportunity at the school I teach in at the moment. We have a number of brass instruments and in return for ccommitment from the students they will be provided with tuition and an instrument.

You are very lucky then with your school.
Perhaps the retention and attraction to young players is affected by cost. When I started playing, my school was very similar...they had a set of reasonable instruments, a band and tuition was provided at no cost.

My daughter has now started to learn the cornet. She is lucky in that she can use my old Soveriegn, otherwise I would have to rent an LEA instrument, of which the quality look very dubious. I also now have to pay £85 a term for her shared 1/2 weekly lesson, plus should she decide to join the county band, will also have to pay an additional sum for that.

I would guess that if this the typical cost across the country, then many kida who in past would have been able to enjoy playing for little, or no cost cannot do this now
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Looking at it from the outside, it seems that some of the (first class) youth bands around are so demanding of their players that it doesn't really encourage building up links with other bands that could carry on into the future. Young people tend to be under a lot of pressure as they move through their teens, and sometimes another layer of activity just cannot be fitted in.

It is awkward enough within the SA if youngsters are starting to play with the senior band, involved with the Divisional Youth Band and also expected to carry on with the junior band as well. I think there needs to be a lot more give and take on behalf of the leaders - and not too hide-bound by rules and laying down the law either - to ensure that our most talented youngsters (who are likely to be most in demand) don't become disillusioned and drift away.

For those in charge of youth bands, I think everything possible should be done to foster links with other bands, so that the transition from youth banding to the wider sphere can be made as smooth and welcoming as possible.
 

lynchie

Active Member
I agree with the change from youth bands to senior bands... however, i don't think it's the fault of the youth bands!

It seems like conductors of senior bands put so much effort into test pieces, that they don't give enough time to coming up with imaginative/innovative/interesting concert programmes. I may have been spoiled in my youth band because our conductor was permanently coming up with new ideas (most of which we see repeated by other youth bands somewhere down the line :wink: ) but I do find myself bored sometimes with the "standard" brass band concert line up.
 

Steve

Active Member
The concept of going round the schools is a great one but isnt brass banding meant to be amateur, just a hobby! If people are going to do this then they are gonna deserve paying and where is that funding going to come from? Brass bands biggest problem IMHO is its 2nd rate image. Its not a case of advertising ourselves more through tv/radio etc Its about what we advertise ourselves as. We are not a lesser option to an orchestra, we are an alternative. We are not a lesser option to a jazz band, we are an alternative. We are not (all) old men with flat caps and war stories, we are a hugely diverse bunch of tallented/focused people. If the public perception of our movement was less "march-overture-solo-hymn tune" and more "one of the most versatile ensembles around" then our image would soar (along with interest in it). What we need to do is get Beckham and Wilko holding a couple of tenor horns, anybody fancy giving them a call!
 

ScrapingtheBottom

Active Member
I totally agree again. It is a shame that, whilst in the musical community we have managed to pretty successfully destroy the old stereotypes by the sheer number of excellent brass players that have come from brass banding or classical players that want to get involved in brass banding in some way (like say Joe Alessi or Doug Yeo), we can't seem to get rid of that image in the mind of the general public. The problem is that the public have a romaticised view of who brass banders are and what brass bands should play (mostly helped out by 'Brassed Off' etc). The problem is it is a catch 22 situation in that whilst brass bands are see as part of working class culture more funding and greater opportunities exist for furthering the cause of banding, but we need to shrug off that image if we wish to gain the same musical credibility as orchestras etc.
 

geordiecolin

Active Member
1)I think Brass and Music generally has to be given a similar kudos as say sport. From school level where sporting achievements are well recognised and applauded while musical achievement goes unoticed, right through to a national level where England's imminent failure at Euro 2004 will occupy our screens/papers forever, whilst the 6 (?) times European Champions in the Brass Band World don't even warrant a single column.

2) A clarification of contest procedure - what do they do in that adjudicator leaving the box - results announcing time that takes so long??!

3) More better quality and reasonably priced beer. We want Fleetwood standards beverages (CAMRA bar!) not Wychavon/Butlins standard beverages!
 

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Straightmute said:
Okiedokie of Oz said:
so if all the other people worryying about the politics decide that in future your band uniform will be Back and Hot pink, you'll follow through??

You need someone who understands what the PLAYERS like and don't like about the establishment in doing the fighting for you. Otherwise.....

I have worn the back and hot pink......10 years later, it is still a controversial issue.

Can you translate for Poms, please Chris? And please don't tell us that you're going to 'follow through'!!!

There are a few typo's there, but I'll try to clarify the point.

Our last comittee moved to make it so that you had NO say in the meetings unless you were on the Executive. Thankfully, tyhe new comittee threw that out the window.

However, while the old mob were in power, after they shut out the opinions of the bandsmen they were working to support, they tried to organise the redesign of the band uniform. They wanted bright coloured polo shirts and plain black slacks. Had someeone not leaked this info to the players (yes it was me), they would have had NO idea until they were made wear it. They petitioned the comittee and have that decision revoked.

This is a lovely example of politics gone bad....

When I first joined the school band, we only had a school uniform, not a band uniform. We went to go away to a contest, so the conductor's wife made us all a lovely uniform out of cheap material. She paid for it herself as a donation to the school, which was the only political figure we had. The uniform was black shirts and happy pants with a hot pink cummerbund and bow tie for the blokes, and girls wore Pink blouse, black collottes and hot pink scrunchies in the hair.

This lovely uniform was a sore point for the school for years, and when I did my teaching prac in Blackwater 10 years after the fact, they were still laughing about it.

So my point is, if you let other people worry about all the little decisions, what will you do if you are not happy with them?? althouigh the meetings can be a drag, the infighting gets annoying and the procedure is a pain in the behind, unless you are in it, you have no hope of keeping things running smoothly.
 

Product tMP members are discussing

Top