Brass Bands England's newly launched Youth Forum initiative, which saw the organisation canvas the opinions of young people involved in the recent National Youth Championships of Great Britain in Salford, has certainly given food for thought.
The first event was run by BBE Trustee Max Stannard, and saw him pose questions for debate such as what initially inspired youngsters to play in a brass band, what were the best and worst parts of banding, and would make them continue playing when, inevitably, they graduate from their youth band.
Participants were also encouraged to share their views of how banding can be improved — with great ideas ranging from more television coverage, promotional videos and celebrity endorsements, to creating a greater sense of community through joint concerts and programmes with other youth organisations.
However, a recurring issue was that the youngsters hoped for improved links between youth and adult banding, with many stating that they enjoyed the rare occasions when they were provided with opportunities to work alongside experienced players.
Concerns were also expressed about the next stages in their band careers — although they were delighted to hear of the opportunities afforded by the ever growing brass band culture at universities and the UniBrass Championships in particular.
Max told 4BR: "I was delighted with the results of the first Forum, although I'm open to suggestions for a better name!
Everyone was incredibly engaged and had cracking ideas. We can very easily forget what young people want from banding and it's vitally important that we keep listening to gain more from their opinions, and then act on them."
He added: "This is only the start of our information gathering, and BBE will now be looking to develop more ways to receive feedback.
I'm delighted that BBE may now be able to take this Forum concept to individual bands and we will look to expand on this through our Liaison Officers and our close links to UniBrass."
4BR understands that BBE has also been active in collecting feedback on the 2017 National Youth Championships, with all competing bands being contacted for their opinions and views on what they think could help further improve Brass Bands England's flagship event.
We can very easily forget what young people want from banding and it's vitally important that we keep listening to gain more from their opinions, and then act on themMax Stannard
If you have any ideas about youth banding and would perhaps like to talk to BBE about hosting a BBE Youth Forum at your band (or suggest a cooler name than Youth Forum!) then BBE wants to hear from you.
Rachel Veitch-Straw at:
Max Stannard at: