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2020 Words of the Year - Banding Edition

Every year the Oxford English Dictionary chooses a word of the year, which is a word or phrase that has made a significant impact or has been used often that year.

2020 was so impactful that they couldn't just pick one word - are we surprised?

Words such as unmute, remote, R-number and of course Covid-19 all made the list.

So, I thought I would put together a list of words that I think have popped up in our community last year, which wouldn't have been part of our normal lingo pre-covid.

So, here are my nominations for 2020 banding words of the year.



Before 2020, I associated the word aerosols with cans of deodorant.

I'll be honest, I prefer that association compared with clouds of spittle emanating from people's mouths and noses like a germ-riddled spritz of Febreze (Fesneeze?).

From the 23rd of March 2020, there was no escape from the word.

I'm a medical content writer, so I read about odd trials and studies for a living, but I never thought I would ever read a study about how much spit comes out the end of a brass instruments bell.


Bell Covers

Speaking of bells, this was a topic that caused quite the stir, didn't it?!

The face mask controversy had nothing on this.

Who knew a debate about whether we should cover our bells or let them blow free would cause such a commotion?!

I'd be telling a lie if I said I didn't find grown men arguing about covering their bells with what is essentially a pair of knickers on our instruments, rather amusing.

It was a great source of entertainment when there was nothing else to do.

I think it's safe to say that quite a few bell-ends were uncovered during this fiasco...



Playing during the clap for the NHS, VE Day, Remembrance Sunday - our streets have been blessed with many of us standing on our doorsteps doing what we do best - celebrating with music!

I did enjoy watching videos and reading posts about people playing for their street or asking when and what other players were playing.

In a year where we could have easily crumbled, we stood up and played our music for good causes and that's something we should be so proud of.



Our movement was recognised and given money.

I'll just say it louder for the people at the back:


Most of my teenage and adult life was spent complaining that no one took any notice of us and why didn't we receive any grants considering we are a community activity?

Again, it shouldn't have taken a pandemic or brass bands to be offered financial support and I still think more can be done to support our movement, but I still think we need to appreciate that this happened!

Yes, there were those who moaned that some bands shouldn't have got the grant, but quite frankly this is where our movement falls down.

I think sometimes we can be a group of negative Nellie's, which can be useful in some ways because it can bring about change etc, but so many times we have completely overlooked an achievement or an opportunity our movement has been given because we have been too busy looking to poke holes.

Can we accept that our movement was acknowledged (for once) and we managed to get a significant amount of pennies out of it?!

Ahem...moving on.

*steps off soapbox*

*Trips over soapbox, because it's me*


Risk Assessments

Bands can play inside.

Bands can play outside.

In, out, in, out, shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Covid and U-turn around

That's what it's all about - hey!

My heart really goes out to Brass Bands England trying to interpret and keep up with the ever-changing fickle rules that have been placed on us.

I can't count how many times bands were having to interpret risk assessments and draft up their own before changing and adapting them based on the ever-changing hoops we had to jump through.

Bands can have as many players as they want inside, but they must follow these simple rules outlined in the risk assessment:

  • All members must bathe in a tub of Dettol prior to rehearsal

  • Wear a hazmat suit (in band colours of course)

  • Sit a minimum of 2 Macedonian cubits apart

  • No eye contact because we can be infected with Covid via our eyes (not a problem for most percussionists who never bother to watch in a rehearsal anyway)

  • Pray to the gods of banding: Mortimer, Murphy and Ball

  • Most importantly - NO MINGLING!

Planning a risk assessment for bungee-jumping off Blackpool Tower would have been easier.



This was a fantastic achievement for our community and all bands/supporters who took part.

I'm very fortunate to play for a band that receives incredible support from its community, so I didn't spend the year panicking about our fate.

Others weren't so lucky and this incredible campaign has raised over a staggering £120,000 so far, which is just amazing.