How are bands graded in the UK?
It is very similar to the football league system.
Bands are graded into 5 sections:
Championship, First, Second, Third, Fourth
In March each year, all UK bands compete in a regional contest. This contest serve two purposes. Firstly, the top two bands from each section go forward to compete in the finals against the top two band from all the other regional contests, and secondly, the position each band gets at the contest is used to determine their place in the leauge table.
The final league table is based upon a three year average, so a band getting 3rd place in year 1, 5th place in year 2 and 3rd place in year 3 would get a final total of 11 points.
After the totals have been worked out, the top two bands in each section (not the necessarily those that came first and second in the contest) are promoted, and the bottom two relegated.
Where bands are promoted / relegated, they are given average points for the previous two years.
The table for the Midlands Area Championship Section in 2007 can be seen here
How many players are there in the band?
In the UK, a brass band is limited when competing to 25 brass players, with additional percussion as required.
Within this, the majority of bands use the following combination of players:
1 Soprano Cornet
1 Flugel Horn
3 Tenor Horns
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
2 EEb Basses
2 BBb Basses
Can a player compete with more than one brass band in the UK?
No. A player is can only be registered and therefore compete with one band at a time. The rules allow for transfers should a player decide to move to another band.
For some contests, bands are allowed to borrow a limited number of players.
This situation is proving more problematic for UK bands over time as the number of young players is ever decreasing.
Could I join the band?
The band has a policy whereby any brass or percussion player deemed to be of a suitable standard by the Musical Director can join the band and perform at concerts. Because of the contest rules, the number of players is limited when competing (see the ‘how many players’ question) and in this situation the Musical Director will decide who will play at the contest.
In the medium term future the band hope to provide a facility to enable anyone, of any age, to learn to play a brass or percussion instrument
Aside from playing, the band is always looking for people to help with the administration – managing the band’s huge music library, seeking funding etc.
How often does the band rehearse?
Generally, twice a week (Monday and Wednesday evenings) from 8 – 10pm
The band has it’s own bandroom in Langley
Does it cost much to run the band?
In terms of daily running costs, no. The band members receive no remuneration or expenses, and pay a small, monthly membership fee.
The Professional Musical Director is paid expenses.
However, brass and percussion instruments have a limited life and need regular maintenance and replacement every 5-10 years. The cost of a brass instrument varies between £1100 for a cornet to £7000 for a BBb bass. Percussion is also very expensive, a single timpani costing around £1500