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2011: January

This month we give our opinions on working on the banding image, not winning anything with kids and praise the move towards open debate...

Working on our banding image

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that news of Laura Hirst becoming the first female player to join Brighouse & Rastrick and the death of the actor Pete Postlethwaite brought stereotypical responses towards brass banding from the media.

Out came the clichés and trivialities – from fashion problems of wearing ‘men only’ band jackets, to the preposterous film image of ‘Danny’ cycling home from band practice, resplendent in uniform, whistling ‘The Floral Dance’.

Once more, the opportunity to provide the movement with a positive image was lost – or more tellingly, not even considered.

The media treats brass banding with a lazy contempt - not because it knows any better, but because we have never managed to persuade them otherwise.

A general enquiry to the BBC revealed that their contributor’s database for brass banding issues and information is – well - nonexistent (BBC Wales has just started a general scheme).

No banding media spokesperson, ‘talking head’, or well known banding ‘personality’ is listed for such occasions when brass bands are deemed to be ‘newsworthy’. No one it seems has contacted the BBC to be considered as one.

Any decision to try and talk to someone with any sort of informed viewpoint is left, we were told, to whether or not a researcher can find anyone to contact on the internet.

It is no wonder then that brass bands continue to be worthy only of the banalities of fashion tips and fairytale ‘northern’ working class imagery.

We have only ourselves to blame.

What do you think?
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You won’t win anything with kids?

If there is one thing football pundit Alan Hansen will forever be remembered for, it is his infamous faux pas of declaring that Alex Ferguson would never win anything with a Manchester United team made up of kids.

Everyone knows what happened next….

The same could well apply to Black Dyke in 2011.

The band and its ‘manager’ are well used to the opinions of the critics on the studio sofas (4BR included) – but never before in the decade long tenure of Nicholas Childs have they come under such pre-season scrutiny – especially as the Black Dyke team this year is perhaps the youngest ever in terms of average age.

After a season of disappointment in 2010, changes were made, and this year the band will take to the major contest stages packed with a squad that includes some of brightest young talents around, allied to key youthful positional changes.

The critics will wait to see what happens of course (as will their rivals), and whilst none have yet come out with a public ‘Hansen’ statement, many harbour the thought that this could be a make or break season for the Queensbury outfit and its conductor.

However, given that the MD is such an admirer of the successful methods employed over the years by his counterpart at Old Trafford (and has his own track record to prove it since 2000), you won’t bet against them ending 2011 with a trophyroom full of silverware.

Any would be Alan Hansen’s may want to think twice then, before they make a fool of themselves questioning whether you can win anything with kids in the ranks…

What do you think?
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In praise of open debate…

2011 could well be the year that the brass band movement frees itself of entrenched opinion and ushers in an era of open debate.

The ongoing work of the fledgling Umbrella Group Working Party will be discussed at a further summit meeting at the forthcoming RNCM Festival of Brass, whilst Steven Mead’s ongoing crusade to further debate on criteria based adjudication will be discussed at an open seminar on the same weekend.

With ABBA already starting the ball rolling with its test piece workshop at its AGM at the start of the month, and with the BFBB welcoming views and opinions via the work of its newly appointed Liaison Officer, it seems the opportunity is being presented for a vibrant atmosphere of debate to be created for the benefit of the movement as a whole.

And if it carries on like this, we may even see some real progress being made too…

What do you think?
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Contest: London & SC Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Contest: Welsh Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • Brangwyn Hall, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE

Contest: North of England Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • The Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA

Black Dyke Band - Victoria Hall, Bolton

Saturday 17 March • 37 Knowsley St, Bolton BL1 2AS

Contest: London & SC REgional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band

March 17 • Musical Director due to work commitments, the Wakefield Metropolitan Band seeks applications for this position. 1st section band with a 5th place at the areas. We require someone with the drive and ambition to take us to the next level is this you ?

Walsall Brass Band

March 17 • WALSALL BRASS BAND are looking for Cornets, 1st Baritone, 2nd Euphonium, Bb Bass and Percusion.

Cheshire Constabulary Band

March 17 • We are urgently looking for a Tenor Horn, Cornet and snare drummers (for our Corps of drums). Smart friendly well run band with varied engagements, just one rehearsal a week. Open to all walks of life ( you do not need to work for the Police!)

Darren R. Hawken

PGdip, BMus(hons) PGCE, dipABRSM, LRSM
Conductor, Arranger, Teacher, Adjudicator, Band Trainer