2011: August

This month we give our opinion on good intentions and awful PR for UKBBA, the real life of a pro and praise the departing Alan Edmond...

Good intentions and awful PR

It seems the road to a fully functional United Kingdom Brass Band Alliance is still full of good intentions and awful PR.

There is little doubt that the desire remains amongst the members of the ‘Working Party’ to try and provide the banding movement in the UK with a structure of governance fit for the 21st century.

However, they don’t half make it difficult for themselves in the process.

Forget the internal squabbles, the accusations of blame and misrepresentation: All fledgling organisations are prone to problems when trying to iron out collective aims and objectives.

That’s part of the ongoing process that can be used as a positive force for change if it provides the dynamic incentive to ultimately succeed.  

What is inexcusable however is the lazy assumption that there is no need to inform the very people the change is supposed to benefit, of what is actually going on.

Despite the promises, who has taken responsibility to get the UKBBA message across?

It is a PR strategy that has become a joke, with a punch line that makes you wince in despair.

Still there is no website (although one was promised from the word go), no press releases updating news of progress (the last meeting in Preston seems to have occurred without anyone knowing what went on, let along what was discussed) and no regular updates of the supposed active support from constituent member bodies (check out their websites)

Where is the coherent joined up thinking, the planning, the professionalism?

A month ago the 4BR Editorial stated that flickering hope had not been extinguished.

Now even that appears on the verge of being doused without trace – not that it would appear anyone would be informed about it.

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Being a pro

If any young player hoping to make a career as a professional musician wishes to gain invaluable free advice, then they should immediately read Ian Bousfield’s article on 4BR about the daily working life of a brass player in one of the world’s top orchestras.

And the word that they should have engraved on their brains after reading it is just that – professional.

Here is one of the world’s greatest trombonists revealing that life is not just about turning up and playing your part in a concert under the baton of a world famous conductor.

It’s about hour upon hour of hard graft, planning and preparation - from booking deps and making travel arrangements to making sure you undertake sensible practice regimes and even sort out the minutiae of everyday domestic life in such a way that the playing on stage becomes the easy bit.

It’s also something the average young bandsman takes a very long time to learn too: Just ask any harassed Band Manager, who is called a few hours before rehearsal with a plea for a lift to band, immediate expenses, a uniform or even the music to play.
Performing is the easy bit – it’s the life that surrounds it that’s more difficult to master.

And if it’s important enough for Ian Bousfield to sort out himself, then perhaps some of our more precious ‘wannabes’ that tend to flirt around the banding world with inflated opinions of their worth should start copying too.

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In praise of Alan Edmond

The imminent departure of Alan Edmond, the Scottish Brass Band Association’s Development Officer to a new life in Australia with his family, should be celebrated despite the massive creative hole he leaves behind to be filled.

It is highly unlikely that the banding movement in the UK, let alone Scotland will see his like again.

Passionately committed, outstandingly professional, breathtakingly articulate and almost evangelically inspired to succeed, he has perhaps done more than anyone to provide Scottish banding with a long term foundation on which to build community based youth banding initiatives.

SBBAs support of his work has been unstinting – the results, nothing short of remarkable.

In the last two weeks, he travelled to Wales to offer practical support, advice and inspiration to bands and administrators wishing to implement the Scottish template for success.

Not everyone has shared his commitment and drive to see brass banding flourish, yet no one can deny that he has been one of the most inspired and successful advocates for the benefits of a vibrant brass band movement anywhere in the world.

The Australian banding movement has gained a quite remarkable asset – no wonder the bunting will be out in force when he touches down in Melbourne later this month.

We wish him well. He will be missed.

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