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2015: February

This month we look at the need for cultural change at the National Youth Band of Great Britain, the need for regional pyramid building and praise the élan of the French...

Time for cultural chance at the NYBBGB

Amid the congratulations that came with the news late last year that Brass Bands England had secured a 142% increase in its funding from 2015, an equally important figure was also revealed - that of the £118,140 a year to be paid by Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Organisation funding to the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

This ‘arts investment’ (through to 2017/2018) should help to secure the immediate financial future of a vitally important flagship brass band organisation - although it should hopefully also provide the stimulus for a long overdue review of it aims, objectives, structures and governance, if it is to continue to flourish well into the third decade of the 21st century.

It is needed - despite money in the bank, the experience and hard work from its extensive board of trustees, councilors and house staff, and with demand for places on its annual courses - headed by a conductor with a truly international artistic reputation - remaining encouragingly high. 

However, its last published accounts also reveal an organisation that spends over £70,000 a year on ‘management expenses’ - yet its total income for the same period only amounted to £175,000. It lost nearly £58,000.

Its Charity Commission submissions also reveal a framework of mission statements, activities, objectives and operations that appear curiously outdated, a lack of transparency over its governance, and a desperate need to engage successfully in modern PR and media exposure. 

The next three years should therefore also accommodate an essential internal cultural change, as no arts body, however well loved, can carry on maintaining artistic excellence without becoming more flexible, responsive and modern in its outlook and working practices. 

And despite three years of current funding - it is highly unlikely any future Arts funding body will give money to any that aren’t. 

The artistic excellence of the NYBBGB is unquestionable - now it is time for the rest of a much admired and respected organisation to be the same.

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com


From Wimpy flats to pyraminds

We may have been saying this for the same period of time it took the pharaohs to build the great pyramids of Egypt, but surely it’s no longer beyond the wit or wisdom of the Regional Committees that run the various Area contests, to finally sort out the five sections of national contesting.

Technically it wouldn’t take a great deal of doing - with the long term benefits for everyone far outstripping any short term grumbles of dissatisfaction that may arise from any individual bands.

The future contesting health of the banding nation in the UK is dependent on creating a transparent pyramid system of promotion and relegation that accurately reflects the true musical standing of the bands that make up its building blocks.

How can anyone argue that out of the 509 bands that are scheduled to take to the various Area stages up and down the country this year that 90 of them are of Championship Section standard - whilst only 123 of them are of Fourth Section level?

It is a structure that looks like a 1960s hi-rise block of flats - a bloated dumping ground from top to bottom that far too easily accommodates mediocrity rather than rewarding excellence.  

It stifles progress and gentrifies ambition: It is a system that’s based on survival; quantity rather than quality - especially at Championship and First Section levels.

Time then to start a comprehensive rebuilding programme - to an age old design proven to be successful. Because until we do, it looks like we will be stuck with our ‘Wimpy flat’ contesting mentality for more years to come.

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com


In praise of French élan

The recent French National Championship was an event to gladden the heart of any pro-European brass band lover.

The nation has fallen in love with a very ‘English’ form of music making in a way that only the French can. 

The players love the chance to showcase their artistic talents, the growing number of very proactive fans revel in the opportunity to bellow their lungs out in support and the CMF are determined to impress with their organisational abilities.

It’s all a little stereotypical French - at times a little chaotic and emotional, at others, full of breathtaking ingenuity and élan. It’s also a breath of fresh air - and all just an hour and half from central London.  

Our nearest brass band nation is showing us all how to fall in love with brass band again. The European Championships in Lille in 2016 will be a delight.

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com



Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Chamber Ensemble

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


The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - Chirst Church Ilkley

Saturday 24 February • Christchurch,. The Grove,. Ilkley LS29 9LW


Elland Silver Band -

Saturday 24 February • All Saints Church Savile Road Elland HX5 0NH


Milton Keynes Brass - "Blow away those Winter Blues"

Saturday 24 February • The United Reformed Church. High Street. Newport Pagnell MK16 0FH


The Cobham Band -

Saturday 24 February • The Vera Fletcher Hall . 4 Embercourt Road. Thames Ditton. KT7 0LQ KT70LQ


Thundersley Brass Band

February 20 • Thundersley Brass, a Championship section band based in Benfleet, Essex are welcoming applicants for the following positions (seats negotiable)from April 2018:. Eb Bass. BBb Bass.


The Corsham Band

February 20 • Having now been promoted to the 2nd Section for the forthcoming Contest season, the band are now looking for an experienced Front Row Cornet Player to join our friendly and enthusiastic team.


Waitakere Auckland Brass Band

February 20 • Ever fancied moving to New Zealand? Waitakere Auckland Brass is looking for players to join their ranks. Our friendly band meets twice a week at our Auckland band room. We have an exciting year ahead so get in touch and find out more.


Stuart Black

BA (Hons) Music
Conductor, Teacher, Flugel soloist