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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Section in 1992, the reluctance of contest administrators to accept the need for radical change has left us with an outdated system geared towards rewarding the quantity rather than the quality of competitors.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: North West Regional Championships

Sunday 23 February • Winter Gardens Complex, Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HU


Black Dyke Band - The Hawth, Crawley

Sunday 23 February • The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley RH10 7Yz


Contest: scaba Own Choice Test & March

Sunday 23 February • The Hawth in Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ


Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Academy of Music Horn Ensemble

Friday 28 February • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


The GUS Band - Northampton International Academy

Saturday 29 February • Northampton International Academy. 55 Barrack Rd. Northampton NN1 1AA


Upper Rhondda Brass Band

February 20 • Upper Rhondda NEEDS YOU. To help consolidate the Band, and its position within the grading system at the next Welsh Area Championships, the Band urgently require the following players, Soprano, Solo Cornet, Solo Euphonium and a Percussionist..


Longridge Band

February 20 • Due to retirement the Longridge Band (1st Section North West) require a back row cornet player (position negotiable), Eb bass & percussionist . We have a good mixture of contests/ concerts and a tour to Belgium planned for later in the year.


Escafeld Brass Band Sheffield

February 20 • Escafeld Brass Band Sheffield has vacancies for all instruments. We are a friendly, non-contesting band who practice Friday evenings near Sheffield city centre. Our numbers have declined in recent years but we are very keen to grow again with our new MD.


James Chamberlain

BMus (Hons) PGCE
Conductor, Teacher


               

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