2013: August

Now here's a couple of tasty little additions to end the month — one a question of Doctors and Professors from the British Open composer and the other about registration issues...

Doctor, Doctor?

The use of titles, such as Doctor or Professor, is something of a contentious issue, it seems. 

Marrianne Garbutt chastises Kevin Edwards for implying that the use of these titles is flawed. She cites three well-known military musicians, from the RAF, the Marines and the Army as being doctors in their own right. 

I hope Marrianne will not mind if I correct her since, as far as I know, none of these three eminent gentlemen is actually a doctor with a research degree. 

That they may be considered Professors in their own right would be more fitting, since they profess expertise in their subject and this is the title usually used by teachers at music colleges or conservatories, regardless of academic degrees. 

The academic or university Professor is usually the most senior research 'lecturer' and called Professor above Doctor, a distinction made in academic circles.

Honorary titles are a different matter. 

Protocol normally demands that the title Doctor should not be used by those with honorary degrees or honoris causa. They may use the post-nominals PHD, but add h.c afterwards.

In the UK the highest musical title is the rarely obtained DMUS, often awarded honoris causa to eminent composers, such as Haydn or Vaughan Williams, as well as Paul McCartney.

Usually the use of the title Doctor in everyday use is limited to the doctor of medicine, whilst academic titles are used in appropriate academic settings.

I hope this does not cause even more confusion! 

Stephen Roberts

or more formally;

Dr Stephen Roberts, PHD (Bham) MA (Bham) BMUS (1st class hons) (Bham) ARCM
Professor of Orchestration 
Royal Military School of Music 
Kneller Hall

PS Note distinction between use of Dr and Prof. in above signature!

Something has to be done

I agree with your comments that something needs to be done about registration. 

If it was used as I am sure it was intended, to help bands play at a contest where they would otherwise not, it would be OK to have borrowed players. 

However, in too many instances it is just a chance to ship in ‘better players’ - a short term view that is all to evident in general life today - as I see very few of these players sitting in the 2nd Horn / 2nd Baritone / 3rd Cornet seats!!

I now struggle to recognise some bands when we come to the one true contest each year - the regional qualifiers 
I am sure the idea was to help local contests survive, but it must also be accept that there is a down side.
The band I am involved with has supported our local contests for over 40 years, but our view of the day, and our involvement in it, has changed and reduces year by year.
As usually the only band in our section not to use players from other bands, we no longer see the contest as a contest. We now see the build up to the day to be much needed technical preparation for an adjudicated performance. 

As such, most of our players want to spend as little time at the contest venue as possible (thereby minimising money spent at the venue and with trade stands) and no longer stay for the results (unless we have a late draw).
Like other bands we have faced situations where players cannot make the day, but we cover this in our preparation or just move people to different seats and maybe go out with a smaller band. 

A few years ago our principal cornet could not make a contest, so we just moved someone up to cover. We knew that this may not have been the best option for the day, but found the benefit of the development of another player to far outweigh the option of withdrawing or bringing in another player.
To us, a successful brass band is not a group of players that wins a trophy, and our greatest achievement is being in existence for over 45 years and making music together. I want to see and work with the same people at every rehearsal and build a relationship with them, and be part of ‘a Band’ - not a group of people that meet up to play occasionally. 
The current registration system is the easy option for too many bands and does not address the real issue of having sufficient players of the right quality to compete at your given level, be that Fourth Section or Championship. 

It is quite easy to resolve, but does anyone really want to take this more difficult option? 

I think not.
Kevin Jordan

Miners in art

Thank you for your excellent article about brass bands in paintings
The Joseph Herman painting of resting miners was of men from the Ynyscedwyn Colliery, which closed 1967. 

My father was not one of them, but he remembers the event. 

He, and his mates, was sketched several times on his way home from work. Josef complete with white brimmed hat and cape, along with his wife, were very familiar figures around Ystradgynlais in the mid-1940/50s.
There is no one left to confirm whether the miner’s band was indeed Ystradgynlais, but Josef’s studio was on the first floor of the Pen-Y-Bont Public House in the village, and the band, at that time, based itself on the first floor of the Butcher’s Arms a mere three hundred yards away. 

Most of the band members worked in Ynyscedwyn, lived locally and were well known to Josef. 

It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than Ystradgynlais.

Incidentally, the band was in the Championship Section then but at least we’re still going!!
Phillip Morgan

Lowry Bandstand 

Further to your article on brass bands in paintings. 

There is of course Lowry’s famous ‘The Bandstand’, Peel Park, Salford – although it is diffuclt to actually see what band is playing on it at the time.

Kate Lock

Belfast's Music in the Park

As to brass bands in paintings, there is also William Conor's ‘Music in the Park’ painted at the Belfast Botanic Gardens 

Joe Cassells

Incredulity for top Docs and Profs

I read with some incredulity the letter on the comments page in August from Kevin Edwards regarding who would win between the professional brass bands being set up by the British Army and the top bands conducted by the 'Professors' and 'Doctors' [sic] that we get at the moment.

It may interest Mr Edwards to know that the Army (and the Royal Marines, and RAF) highly values education and has in fact sent all of its musicians through not only it’s widely regarded education programme at Kneller Hall but also sent the high flyers (ie the ones likely to lead these bands) to higher education at a Masters level and beyond, where they are taught by some of the Doctors and Professors Mr Edwards seems to dislike…
Off the top of my head Rob Wiffin (Director of Music for the Royal Air Force for 21 years), Lt Col Chris Davies (Royal Marines), Lt Col Graham Jones (Director of Music Coldstream Guards) all of whom are extremely well respected in their field and all of whom are in fact ‘Doctors’ in their own right.
Thank goodness the Army recognises that the training it gives its soldiers in preparing for battle is not the only training they need to prepare for a musical assault.
Marrianne Garbutt

Great Little Britons

I am surprised that no known has taken the time to write to 4BR to congratulate the all people who took part in the excellent ‘Great Little Britons’ programme on Sky 1.

I was a little wary at first, but having watched all the programmes in the series I feel that it did what it set out to do and did not belittle the banding movement in any way.

This was about excellence – a peculiar form I would agree – but excellence and the pursuit of it.

There were a few moments when the people involved may have become a little too self important, but overall it was a thoroughly entertaining programme.

Well done Bradford, Horbury, Dinnington and Grimethorpe, and well done to the Yorkshire Regional Committee under Peggy Tomlinson who allowed the programme to filmed at the Area Championship at St George’s Hall.

Pauline Black

A great Swiss euphonium player

The recent review of Jean Pierre Chevailler’s CD on 4BR brought back many happy memories of hearing this wonderful musician play.

I was lucky enough to be sent to work in Switzerland in the 1980’s and managed to hear him perform on a number of occasions.  His playing was always so tasteful and refined – just like the man himself.

I hope he is still playing, and a friend told me that he also now conducts a band called Corps de Musique d’Elite in Geneva.

Thanks to 4BR I will now purchase the CD to remind me of a great musician once again. 

Philippe Simon Chevrot

Public demand for bands in the park?
I was interested to read your recent Editorial regarding underused bandstands, and fully concur with your plea for an increase in outdoor concerts.
There are exceptions though, and I am fortunate to live within walking distance of my local one which still has brass and concert band programmes from 1st May to 30th September each year (plus Christmas Day). 

By my calculation there are to be 57 band concerts this season.
Of course, this is one of a holiday resort’s attractions and may not be the town park or village green setting you had in mind; nevertheless, it illustrates that public demand, even at £3.50 if seated, is there and from experience I can attest that the community sprit you commend exists between locals and visitors. 

Moreover, if the visitors enjoy band music when on holiday, presumably they would also appreciate it in their own home districts.
Your views crossed my mind as I looked around the audience, and I thought I might pass on the evidence to you.
Len Atter

Why the Cory hail?

It is many years since I last wrote to 4BR Comments but I was intrigued to read your Editorial hailing Cory's current tour to Australia in such glowing terms as "one heck of a commitment" and a "tremendous amount of organising."

Exactly a decade ago, our 50-strong Smithills School Senior Brass Band toured New Zealand for three amazing weeks (even with 50 superbly behaved teenagers, weeks in Auckland, Rotorua and Tauranga plus a 36 hour journey just to get there is a massive organisational and financial responsibility) and this was after 1999 in Japan, 2000 in America and so on ever since. 

Next July sees our twentieth major foreign Smithills concert tour in 18 years and our fifth USA (for which we must again somehow fundraise £60,000) and with many fantastic bands such as Grimethorpe having toured Australia in recent times, I wonder why this current Cory tour is being so triumphed?

Incidentally, we wish Phil Harper and his players every success as our Smithills brass teacher for many years, Anna Hughes-Williams, is in the solo cornet section.  
Chris Wormald

Who would win?

After 200 years of musical history the British Army finally decides to set up three professional brass bands.

This could be the best news top class banding in the UK has been waiting for years.

Wouldn’t it be great to see these bands competing against the likes of Black Dyke, Brighouse & Rastrick and Grimethorpe at the British Open or even the National Finals?

At last we may get professional musicians (men and women) led by professionally trained conductors, instead of the pseudo ‘stars’ (as 4BR continually calls them) conducted by the ‘Professors’ and ‘Doctors’ we get at the moment.

I wonder which ones would win?

Kevin Edwards

Welcome back Stan    

Congratulations to the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators on their decision to welcome back Stan Lippeatt to their organisation.

Stan has been big enough to know what he did at the Bolsover contest was unacceptable and has undertaken a highly respected course to show that he was willing and able to change what were inappropriate opinions.

He should be congratulated on his subsequent actions and welcomed back by every right minded person in the banding movement. He has shown a great deal of humility – much more than many who castigated him in the first place.

Elizabeth Roland

Support not control?

Support not control. Where have we heard that before I wonder?

Every time someone wants to take over a slice of the brass band action that’s where.

I am not holding my breath that the latest statement by Mike Kilroy of Brass Bands England will lead to any lasting benefit to the vast majority of bands in England, unless the likes of Kapitol and the other main contest organisers are willing to do the same.

John Hughes

Empire builders

Although I agree with your August editorial (‘Stand up and be counted’), do you really think anyone involved will want to give up any part of their ‘empires’ for the good of others in discussing the need and function of the Brass Band Players Registry?

Kapitol Promotions, Brass Bands England, British Open and even local associations – all have been packed with people looking after their own good. 

The Advisory Body is a start, but until we know who will actually sit on it and how they get elected (and hopefully not the same old people as we have had before in every failed attempt to run banding) then it remains a proposal without substance.

Ken James

Welcome appointment

It is with great interest that I have observed the election of Mike Kilroy as BBE Chair.
Reading Mike’s June pre-election statement and your coverage of the AGM, I am confident that this election puts the organisation in a much stronger position to move forward.
Working in the voluntary and community sector for over 20 years, I have seen the context that voluntary and community organisations have to work in has changed significantly. 

Successful organisations have also evolved and changed – they have adapted and faced the twin challenges of a more consumer-led world (our funders and customers all seem to want more for less) and the impact on volunteer activity that has been made by IT (e.g. do parents buy their child an iPad or a cornet and does a young person build their social networks online rather than at band?).
Both these things can be as positive as they are negative. Audiences are more discerning so more thought and preparation go into producing the best performance each band can give. 

Technology means we can see and hear new things as part of our learning and we can exchange ideas and techniques across the globe in ways that were unimagined 20 years ago.
Although BBE is a new organisation, its roots are in the BFBB which was a long standing organisation.

What the outgoing chair and previous working structures did must be recognised and applauded – these people worked hard and were committed - the structure they worked in probably was fit for purpose when it was set up.
Times have changed, needs have changed and I hope that everyone involved (whether new or long established) assess Mike’s leadership in the current context. 

I hope that, with this in mind, many will decide to support brave new decisions, pursue opportunities for strategic and operational alliances and ultimately support the further developments of bands and banding in this country.
Pete Denton

Where is Bram?

Bram Gay was my trumpet teacher in 1955 when I was 9 years old. 

He was then principal trumpet at the CBSO. 

I would love to know if he is still alive. 

Simon Brooke

4BR Reply:
We understand Bram Gay is alive and well and enjoying life in France. He usually makes a welcome appearance at the British Open each year.

London Central Fellowship Band - The International Staff Band in Cambridge

Saturday 24 February • Wesley Methodist Church, Christ's Pieces, Cambridge CB1 1LG

Contest: North West Regional Championships

Sunday 25 February • Winter Gardens Complex, Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HU

Contest: Midlands Regional Championships

Saturday 2 March • Corby Business Academy, Gretton Road, Corby NN17 5EB

Haverhill Silver Band - Waterbeach Brass - Spring Concert

Saturday 2 March • Histon Baptist Church, Station Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LQ

Contest: Yorkshire Regional Championships

Saturday 2 March • Corporation Street, Huddersfield HD1 2TA

Mereside Brass

February 20 • Mereside Brass (Rudheath, Northwich) are looking for a FRONT ROW CORNET, position negotiable. We are a friendly 4th Section band restarting contesting this year and with a sensible calendar of jobs and band social events. Come and give us a try!

Haverhill Silver Band

February 19 • Play Bb (or Eb) bass and want to compete at the Spring Festival and Whit Friday? . . Due to work commitments, Haverhill Silver Band (L&SC Champions 2022) have a vacancy for a talented Bb or Eb bass player to join us after the areas.

London Central Fellowship Band

February 16 • We are currently recruiting a back-row cornet player, a Solo Cornet player, a Tenor horn player and a percussionist.

John Maines

BA (Hons)
Presenter, compere and conductor


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