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2014: January

We open 2014 with our views on the time to make cuts, why youth investment should be no fad and praise all those who went out carolling...

Time to finally make the cuts

The re-occurring economic mantra of the political classes is all about how current cutbacks are essential in order to safeguard future prosperity.

Making things more efficient and flexible are aims that should be embraced - although care must always be taken about just how quick and deep cuts should be in order to improve overall quality.

However, now that the question of national registration has been sorted out, surely the time has come to look at implementing a radical answer to the age old question of the number of bands competing in their various sections throughout the UK.

Despite the advent of the First Section in 1992, the reluctance of contest administrators to accept the need for radical change has left us with an outdated system geared towards rewarding the quantity rather than the quality of competitors.

Few would argue against the evidence that the current ‘national’ structure is increasingly misrepresentative and inflexible.
 
The problems start at the top:  Can anyone honestly say that the UK can boast close to 90 true Championship Section bands? 

If in doubt, have a listen to them playing ‘St Magnus’ in a few weeks time and then decide.

The resultant ‘trickle down’ effect throughout the sections is shown in startling levels of mediocrity, as bands struggle to meet the musical demands of test pieces that in theory they should be well equipped to perform.

Competitive banding cannot hope to survive in this way much longer.

The need for well thought out cuts in competitive numbers and a radical re-organisation of the sections to accommodate them is paramount.  

Without it there is no possibility of future prosperity.

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


Why investment in youth is no fad

At the height of the first wave of popularity for the National Lottery in the mid to late 1990s, brass bands certainly cashed in on the substantial awards made to support their ‘good causes’.

Instruments were flying off the production lines faster than semi quaver runs in top section test pieces as successful applications to set up youth bands by the dozen were paid out.

Most centred on fairly straight forward plans to create new youth bands, aided by the recycling of old instruments that would be handed down by senior counterparts. 
 
The gravy train lasted a fair old time - but the evidence that it had any lasting effect is questionable.

How many youth bands were actually created and how many survive to this day? 

And how many bands really made claims based on nothing but hope, hot air and a desire to cash in on handouts that had next to no follow up once the money was safely in the bank?

Just a quick glance in the banding press of the time reveals a great deal (and the substantial awards) - whilst the current internet information on some of the bands that had the payouts makes for rather disconcerting reading.  

Where did all those youth bands go?

For all our claims to be entitled to government cash - the brass band movement in the UK hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory by the way it previously spent what it got its hands on.

And its perhaps explains why it now requires bands to come up with much more concrete, realistic  and accountable proposals to funding bodies if they are to get their hands on grant aid, and why those that are successful now have to work so damn hard to justify their awards.

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


In praise of carolling

As a means of fund raising for the band coffers, nothing is quite as effective as the age old pastime time of Christmas carolling.

The weather may well be cold, wet and miserable, yet as many bands up and down the country (and across the banding world) found out this festive season, that if you put in the time and effort, the general public don’t half dig deep into their pockets.

So to all of you who did your bit in support of your band, or for a charity or good cause, then hold your head high (and we saw plenty of pics of players freezing in the cold) and just comfort yourself with the thought that you won’t have to start doing it again for another 11 months.

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



Contest: 100thSpring Festival

Saturday 8 May • 97 Church St, Blackpool, FY1 1HL


Contest: 168th British Open

Saturday 11 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA


Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Saturday 18 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Race Course, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL40 4SH


Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Sunday 19 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL40 4SH


Contest: National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain

Saturday 2 October • Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP


City of Bristol Brass Band

April 9 • A FLUGEL player is required by City of Bristol Brass Band (competing in the First Section) with immediate effect. The successful applicant will join a successful, friendly band with some exciting concerts and contests in the diary.


Otterbourne Brass

April 7 • If during the last 12 months you have realised how much time two rehearsals a week plus engagements takes then Otterbourne Brass rehearse once a week and presently has vacancies for bass and trombone players. Other instruments may also apply


Wotton and District Silver Band

April 5 • When we all get back to business we will be seeking to fill our vacancies for MUSICAL DIRECTOR and Eb BASS.


Michael Bennett

BSc, RNCM (Perf)
Performer, Composer, Arranger, Teacher


               

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