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2013: December

We end the year with weak willed judges, Welsh questions and a touch of realism...

Gaining consensus is what matters

Noting Chris Wormald's robust defence of his working practices in your December 2013 comments section in response to 4BR's characteristically robust original assertions in their December 2013 editorial, it does strike me that in the midst of all this robustness the points at issue are being lost.

Mr Wormald describes what must be pretty much the only sensible recipe for two or more judges to use when they are asked to decide together on a contest order - for the judges to debate the merits of each fresh performance in relation to those that have gone before as they go, filing them into the pack in a suitable position as they make their collective decision. In this sense, every position is indeed agreed upon.

But this does not (as I read it) address what 4BR were concerned about in their editorial.

It hides the process of gaining a consensus within the box. It is simply not the case that in every collective adjudication where the post-contest comments include the phrase "We agreed on every position", each judge brings the same input to the post-performance debate.

That would indeed be remarkable.

To achieve consensus - that is a most basic part of the duty of multiple adjudicators asked to resolve an order together. To have consensus without having to work at it, as implied to the audience by the phrase that 4BR objected to, this is a pipe-dream, and an undesirable one at that.

Whether or not the judge uttering the phrase intends it that way, the effect is to attempt to mislead the audience - except in those very rarest of circumstances when an order is transparently clear from top to bottom.

In effect, all the phrase means is "We have successfully judged your contest", and I concur with 4BR that its use is in most cases something of an insult to the intelligence of those who are listening.

The 4BR editorial celebrated the bringing into visibility at BiC of adjudicatorial controversy, something I also find admirable.

Too often we pretend to ourselves that contest results are clear-cut and deeply meaningful when in fact an extra Shredded Wheat for the judge's breakfast might have caused a different outcome.

If judges disagree, we may draw the lesson that the result wasn't entirely clear; but on the other side of the coin, when genuine agreement is obtained on a victory, then that much more satisfaction can be justifiably taken in it.

David Taylor

Poorly informed and weak willed?

Having adjudicated at countless major concerts over the past twenty three years, the results in all of which I have complete faith and many of which I spent in closed adjudication with colleagues such as David Read, Bob Childs and Jan de Han (both this year), Bill Relton, Stephen Roberts, Nigel Boddice, Derek Broadbent, Roy Newsome, Philip McCann, John Berryman and many more, I am incredulous that a 4BR editorial could state that when adjudicators announce from the stage the “laughable excuse of…we agreed on every position from 1 to 20” it is “all too often the default mode for poorly informed, weak willed judges.”

I find such a statement completely devoid of how paired (or more) adjudication almost always works, as I myself would never CONSIDER leaving the box at the end of a section or walking onto ANY stage with a colleague UNLESS the results were agreed from first place to last. 

The methodology of almost all of the best adjudicators is to place performances in a rank order as each contest, section, or day progresses, in an on-going process, not mark performances out of 100 or 200 and subsequently, and impossibly hurriedly, then manically collate all of the marks at the conclusion of a particular contest/section and establish some sort of universally agreed, identical rank order. 

That would be impossible. 

Such a working practice would hardly ever result in agreement between adjudicators on any places at all, other than the top and bottom few performances. First to last places would never be agreed upon. 

As I fast approach a quarter of a century of adjudicating what were the English Nationals, Scottish Opens, National Finals, Yorkshire Areas and countless other major events, I have, without exception, genuinely always agreed with my colleague(s) on every place as the day has progressed and, if results at any contest are NOT agreed on from first place to last, how are adjudicators expected to take to a stage with any integrity at all?

If the 4BR editorial wishes to call David, Bob, Jan, Bill, Stephen, Nigel, Derek, Philip, John or myself “poorly informed” and “weak willed” that is their prerogative, but I myself never have, and never will, leave any adjudication box unless my colleague(s) and I are entirely satisfied that we have agreed on every placing, first to last.

Chris Wormald

Welsh question

Great news about the Army Brass bands being set up and wonderful coverage, but unless I have missed it, I have failed to see the question ask of what is to happen to the existing band (and for many years the only brass band in the British Army) the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh. 

This is a band that is steeped in history and holds a huge pride of place in the hearts of the welsh people.

Can it and will it still existing alongside a full time Army band only 12 miles apart? 

I feel this is an important question and one that should have been asked and reported on.

David Wheeler

Realism helps

I read with interest your feature on Garforth Band and I agree that we must accept that the movement is in dire straits and unless something is done then it must be a possibility that we will be dead in 10 years.
At Lofthouse we are constantly trying to recruit new members in ensure our future.  

This year has seen a programme of incentives designed to introduce a new generation to brass playing.  These have included Music Cafes which gave anyone the opportunity to play and more recently a brass expert being employed to go into schools to perform to the whole school.

Both of these have been successful to a certain degree but we realise that it is an ongoing process but already result are being shown with 5 new players in our beginner group, 3 in our 'B' band and 3 players promoted from 'B' band to Senior band.
What we have realised is there is also no quick fix.  

As the music service within Wakefield is starting to suffer from Government cuts we realise that amateur music groups must take on the mantle of teaching to ensure the future.

Plans are already in place for 2014 not only to continue our recruit drive but also to bring a greater awareness of the band within the local community. I suspect that the majority of people in Lofthouse do not even know we exist.  

There are also plans in next year to start a 'Dust it Off' scheme for those that learnt at school or gave up when going to University.

As a local band we realise we need to be inventive and not just sit in our 'ivory tower' and blame outside influences.
Andy Whitaker
Lofthouse 2000 Brass Band

Sadness at death

It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the sudden death of David (Tojo) Owen. 

Tojo was a much valued player and friend of us all at Northop Silver Band, and his time will be remembered for not only his huge Eb Bass playing, but also his commitment to helping the youth band, where he would be seen on many evenings supporting the bass section. 

He will also be remembered for his long and devoted service to the Point of Ayr Band, of which he was a member for many years. 

Our thoughts and sympathies at this moment are with his family at this sad time. 

Tojo will sadly missed by us all. A true bandsman, great player, great man and friend to all that knew him. 

David Thomas

True Xmas spirit from Brighouse?

I write regarding Brighouse & Rastrick’s Xmas release which you are encouraging via your news article.

Do think that references such as, ‘If Rudolph pulls you off in the snow’ and ‘Frosty’s balls of snow’ and multiple references regarding Reindeer droppings  are designed to enhance the Xmas spirit... well shame on you.
Perhaps you could suggest how I might explain these lines to my young children
Dave Aston

A local site for local people...

It’s been a while since I wrote anything, but one comment made me chuckle so much I had to dive to the keyboard.
Helen Lucas’s comments regarding the ‘pointless trips’ 4BR makes, made me laugh a bit.  

Who indeed are we to tell 4BR where they can go, none metaphorically speaking of course.  I don’t dispute that local coverage was lacking on the weekend that the money grabbing behemoth that is Iwan Fox went to Switzerland.  

I mean how very dare he make money at the expense of no one but himself.  After all we pay him the sum total of ‘sweet FA’ for his coverage of many local contests and therefore we have bought (for nothing) the right to dictate where he can spend his weekends. 
Hang your head in shame Mr Fox you heinous b***ard, and the next time Gravel Gob Care in the Community Brass Band have a concert and slow melody contest at the Strudwick in the Vale Village Hall,  I expect you there, booted and suited, making the tea in the interval and locking up afterwards.  

I expect the coverage to be posted, ten minutes before the contest starts and woe betide you if you use any of that flowery Welsh prose on here.  

This is a local site for local people, we’ll have none of that here you know.
Rich Walker
(Disgusted of Daybrook – with tongue firmly in cheek!!!)

Not in a Suffolk hotbed

The answer to the letter from Helen Lucas as to why Iwan Fox was in Switzerland last weekend rather than Leicester lies within his excellent retrospective of the event.

Using football as a comparison, it is why Henry Winter, the football correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, will be found each week at Arsenal, Manchester United/City, Chelsea or Liverpool and not the hot bed of Suffolk football, Ipswich Town!

Incidentally, I doubt very much that Iwan made any money out of one of his "pointless trips abroad".

Tim Mutum

Getting the right Invincibles...

William Elsom is correct. Glamorgan did not beat the great 1948 Australian touring team, but they were not beaten either.

That is why my memory let me down as I was so pleased that they played so well against them. 

I was also wrong that the match was at Cardiff Arms Park - it was in fact in Swansea. 4BR would in fact confirm that I rang them to rectify my mistake, but I was too late.

It is all the more unforgivable on my part because I was at the match and it was only 65 years ago!

However, Glamorgan did win the County Championship. Wales at the top of the pile in cricket - a little bit like brass banding in 2013!

David Read

Points mean....?

I have read and tried to understand the allocation of points per contest and suggest that perhaps it would make things easier to understand if you showed the points allocated per contest? 

Not actual points per band, but for example - say Swiss Open; between 100 for 1st to 30 to 10th etc. Scottish Open; between 40 for 1st - 1 for 10th etc.
It’s just a suggestion to clarify why some bands suddenly appear on the list eg 146 - Alexander Brass Band - Norway 4.91, and also to make everyone aware of the point values per contest.
The majority of annual contest are now established and therefore, perhaps a list identifying points which can be awarded per place could be compiled.
David W Ashworth

Which sop is best?

I have seen that you review different instruments.

It would be excellent if you could review the new Sovereign 924R Eb soprano cornet and compare it with Schilke soprano cornet which by many people is judged to be the best.

Stefan Grännö
Soprano cornet

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Brass Band

Friday 23 March • Regent Hall. (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C 2DJ (opposite RESERVED) W1C 2DJ

The Fairey Band - Ensembles from Bramhall High School

Friday 23 March • Bramhall High School. Seal Road. Stockport SK72JT

Black Dyke Band - Newtown (Powys)

Saturday 24 March • Theatre Hafren, Llanidloes Rd, Newtown SY16 4HU

Croydon Citadel Band - The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army

Saturday 24 March • The Salvation Army. Booth Rd. Croydon. CR0 1XY CR0 1XY

Leyland Band - Annual Patrons' Concert

Sunday 25 March • Chorley Town Hall PR7 1DP

Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band

March 23 • REPIANO CORNET are you the right person for this seat, we have a sensible mix of concerts and contests with a Germany trip in 2019. Also a 5th place at the yorkshire areas in the 1st section we are looking to build on this for the future.

Lindley Band

March 23 • TUTTI CORNET required to join friendly team who enjoy a sensible balance of contests and high quality engagements under the direction of our new MD Rob Westacott. We rehearse Monday and Wednesday evenings in our own bandroom just 1 mile from M62 Jcn 24.

Lindley Band

March 23 • FIRST HORN required to join friendly team who enjoy a sensible balance of contests and high quality engagements under the direction of our new MD Rob Westacott. We rehearse Monday and Wednesday evenings in our modern bandroom just 1 mile from M62 Jcn 24.

Gary Davies

Conductor, Band Trainer, Adjudicator