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british bandsman

This message was contributed by Richard Sandland on 17/5/02.
It was in reply to this message: british bandsman
posted by Tabby Hall on 16/5/02.

1) Saudi was great, seeing a different country and all that, and such a different culture. There are no illegalities other than don't drink lager, and it was only for 2 weeks, so that wasn't a problem. A few more illegalities for women, but I ain't one, so......and I saw a few flashes of cameras in concerts, but we played mainly to ex patriots so I suppose that was ok - although the few Saudis we did meet were lovely people, and other than some sincerely and passionately held religious beliefs, which were and should be absolutely respected, are pretty much the same as us. If you respect them, there are no horror stories.

2)The object of the Saudi trip was to earn cash - this is what tours are for! We are of course a professional group, this is our job. We get asked to go places; you then look up the aesthetics of the place you're going, but if the cash isn't right, you don't go!

3) We do have an educational programme, but I am ambivalent about it, especially ordinary school concerts. I do enjoy masterclasses with good playing standards to work with, playing good music well, but some of the absolute basics I find very tedious. Others in the group have different emphases - good thing that there are 5 of us, I guess, as we cover most educational stuff that can be thrown at us. I would say, however, that the general standard of brass playing has gone down; the remarkable talent is not as common as it once was.

4)I guess its important, but dragging a weak melody out of an unwilling kid is of no use to them or to me. Converseley, working with an even vaguely talented student who really wants to learn can be very fulfilling. The bottom line is, if they want to play brass, then their attitude shines through, and even if they are only moderately talented, they are worth working with. Folks who play because they should, rather than because they want to are not worth working with.

5)These are varied depending on the material available. We adapt depending on what we are given to work with.

6)In schools gigs we do a lot of TV and film themes, and try to be inclusive, to get the audience to identify in some way with what we are doing. No point playing them any John Woolrich - they wouldn't know how to listen. Its obvious, really.

7)I'd like to continue the emphasis on comissioning, but it is getting more difficult to obtain funding. The new music is the bit I enjoy most - as a tuba player, the jazz we play is a bit rhythm-section biased, and as such isn't much of a challenge; baroque stuff is similar in technical terms (if not, obviously, in musical terms). I like a new piece arriving and not being able to play it, initially, and working both technically and intellectually to make the music work.

8)We teach what we get! I am amazed at the lack of tuba players though - last workshop, I had 2 Euphs and a tenor horn, and not a tuba in sight.

At our recent gig at the Tiverton Spring Festival, I spoke with the town band's Euphonium player who said that the band had been offered cheap tickets for the gig, but only he out of all of them had bothered to turn up. Are they expecting us to be avant garde or something? Why don't they just get along and have a listen? Apathy is a peculiarly British disease, it seems; I used to play with a quartet who, almost by defifnition had little repertoire and a very limited palette of expression available, and yet in the smallest town in Europe we would have 150-200 folks watching. It just doesn't happen in the UK , even for FABE who have been absolutely at the top of the tree in terms of quality and excitement for 22 years. You sometimes wonder what you have to do to get an audience.

9)Lots of stuff! See the news and schedules pages!

10)I am very proud to be a a member of the Malvern Hills District Brass Band where I have some very good friends. I turn up and have a blast when I can, which is not often. I have never had the slightest interst in Banding before I met certain people in the MHDBB, who I like being with.

11) We live around the midlands and due to the demands of the freelance lifestyle, we rehearse when we can and when we have to!

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