4BR Talking Point - The condition of real banding

31-Jul-2009

What condition is real banding in? Richard Evans wonders if too many bands are forgetting the need for commitment, time and effort...


Richard EvansWhat condition is REAL banding in?

No doubt I will be accused of doom-mongering, but I am truly concerned about the condition of our movement. 

We seem to have lost, or misplaced, the true culture of banding. 

Eroded values

Yes, I realise time waits for no man and change is constantly occurring, but our true values are being eroded almost daily.  In my opinion, the bedrock of the brass band movement, the village band, the school band, the fourth section band is secure. 

Okay, these bands may not have a full complement, with bums on every seat, but they will always provide music for the church fete, the procession or the Christmas concert.  Thank the Lord for their existence.

It’s the health, or ill-health of the bands in the so-called Championship and even First Section where I think the greatest malaise lies. 

Thinking points

May I suggest the reader thinks on these points and relates them to their own band:  Commitment, Loyalty, Reliability, Punctuality, Respect.  How did you fare?  Did your band come out favourably?  I do hope they did, but I know many would not.

So, what is the answer to these problems? 

All I can say is, just a few weeks ago I talked with my dear friend, the late Geoffrey Whitham, and we compared notes on our jobs as MDs of Hammonds Sauce Works Band for Geoff, and Leyland for me.  In all the years we were conductors of these bands we were very rarely absent – and that’s two rehearsals a week and around 30+ engagements per year.

Problems

How can we redress this problem? 

Maybe one area of concern is leadership, commitment from the front of the Band.  I fear we have several directors of bands virtually directing their band by proxy. 

In the 50’s when I was an apprentice typesetter, I started work at 7.30 a.m. and finished at 5.30p.m.  My boss, Earnest Bell, was always there when I arrived and he was the man who locked the building around 6.00 p.m.  He taught me, by his actions, that to run anything successfully, you must put in more time than all others…good training.  And that’s how I ran Leyland Band.

Take stock of our successful bands, and you will find they had, and some have today, conductors who are totally committed to their bands, putting in so much time and effort.

Encourage

Another way we can try to improve the health of our movement is to encourage our young players to join us after they leave their school, or youth bands. 

It is worrying to see so many of these players just disappear.  Maybe we, in adult bands, are guilty of driving them away?

When you consider how, in their school or youth band, they regularly had foreign trips… in Holland, France, Belgium, Italy or even the USA…great fun. 

So their local band manage to get them into the bandroom to offer them life after their youth band and usually the first thing they see on their music stand is the Regional Test Piece – and it’s only January!! 

Appeal?

So that is virtually the only music they will play every rehearsal, for around 10 weeks.  Small wonder the appeal of joining an adult band soon disappears and they head out of the door, and possibly never play again.  So we have to take all these points into consideration and plan to stimulate these young people and keep them interested. 

I do know there are areas of great enthusiasm and energy all over the UK, but I also know there will be an exceptionally talented person running the unit, and encouraging and motivating – and keeping up to date. 

Success needs total commitment and loads of effort and time.

There’s only one place where success comes before work…..the dictionary.

Richard Evans

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