Book Review - The Complete Compere Notes Guide8-Jul-2008
John Maines gives the budding compere more than enough knowledge and ammunition to keep audiences entertained between the music with his one stop guide...
Author: John Maines
Ever been to a concert where the playing of the band has been great but the information provided about the pieces they play has been as enlightening as trying to read Lord of the Rings in Arabic?
One of the most important aspects of any successful concert is the role of the compere - the link between the performer and the audience.
A good compere brings an enjoyable extra dimension to the whole concert going experience, whilst a poor one can make you cringe in embarrassment. If there is anything that turns people away more quickly from a brass band concert it is not the standard of the playing from the band itself, but a compere (or invariably, the conductor) who doesn’t know what he is talking about.
The great practitioners are the type of old pros who are blessed with a mixture of the theatrical and the academic. In his own inimitable way Leonard Sachs on the ‘Good Old Days’ variety hall television programme was perhaps the best – a mix of theatre luvvie come Oxford Don, with a wicked turn of phrase (and pun) mixed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject matter, from performing dogs to Marie Lloyd.
What made them so good however was not only did they have a genuine love for what they did and for what they were presenting, but that they also did their homework – and lots of it.
Good research is a compere’s gold dust. Get the facts right and you can embellish them with well placed bon mots, jokes, stories and observations that illuminate, educate and entertain all in the same sentence or two. It also gives the performers crucial time to prepare for the next part of their performance whilst preparing the listener to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate what is coming next.
The best comperes are able to strike that perfect balance between illumination, education and entertainment throughout an entire concert. Get it wrong and the sight of tumbleweed rolling across the stage front can herald disaster; get it right and everything you hoped for and more comes to fruition.
John Maines has perhaps more experience than most in presenting brass band to the public at large – from Black Dyke concerts to his ‘ World of Brass Radio’ programme. Brought up with banding in his blood, his appreciation and love for the genre is obvious and genuine, whilst his enthusiasm for spreading the banding word so to speak, is matched only by his level of professionalism in doing so.
He has used that extensive experience as a player, conductor and academic (he holds a BA (Hons) Degree from Sheffield University to produce this enjoyable ‘Guide’ – what he describes as a ‘one stop reference’ for those who need to undertake the task of introducing music to audiences.
Set out in alphabetical order it provides information as diverse as the hymn tune ‘Aberystwyth’ (appropriate enough given it is number 1 in the little red hymn books played by just about every band in the world) to the father of invention himself, Frank Zappa.
Just about every genre of popular music making is covered, as is a vast array of well known performers, composers, arrangers and compositions. The information given is compact and essential, providing more than enough material for the budding compere to pad out if necessary with their own research and opinions too.
The format is very much in line with what you find on the Wikipedia type of sites on the internet it must be said (and that is not always 100% accurate) and some of the entries are a little sketchy, but as a ready to use guide it is a great resource.
If you want something more academic then go to and delve in the huge tomes of the Oxford Companion to Music or Groves, but if you want something to say in your local brass band concert to keep the punters happy for a minute or two then you can’t go far wrong with John’s publication.
Did you know for instance that composer Tony Hatch was responsible for both the theme tune to ‘Neighbours’ as well as that classic Petula Clark song, ‘Downtown’, or that Mozart’s first names were actually Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus or even that the composer Ennio Morricone was a accomplished trumpet player and that the Italian name for his famous film ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ is ‘Per Un Pugno di Dollari’?
On such pearls can a compere earn their fee and audiences enjoy a concert - all thanks to John’s diligent research.
Kibworth, under direction of Iain Rayner would like to welcome a Bb Bass, Solo Euphonium and to complete our line up Tutti Co...
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