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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.

One thing that has been proven this year is how much we can achieve when we are innovative and create projects like this.


Socially Distanced Video

I think if I had to pick one phrase to sum up 2020, I think this would be it.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: if it had to take a global pandemic to drag banding's backside into the 21st century then at least we can say some good came out of it.

Not only were these videos a fantastic form of entertainment, it really drummed up support for the respective bands and our movement in general.

I really think this whole idea of using social media to promote projects is the future, you know...



Necessity is the mother of invention and I really hope this invention is here to stay post-covid.

Virtual online championships, virtual solo contests, virtual concerts - they have been fantastic.

I'm not saying we should sack off live contests and move them all online, but events such as virtual solo contests would open up a world of opportunities for those who can't travel to in-person competitions.

I'm so grateful to the Cory band that they decided to create the online championships and I'm glad it was recognised with the 4barsrest Award for Best Newcomer, as it was something that really made a difference for so many of us in the banding community.

I'm very much looking forward to taking part in the next one!



Committee meetings, socials, quizzes, rehearsals, lessons - you name it, you can Zoom it!

I had never used Zoom before 2020 - I hadn't even heard of it!

I've now spent hours on the damn thing.

Whether it's having a cheeky gin and catching up with my bandmates, competing against them in quizzes, interviewing guests for my column in the British Bandsman - I feel I can confidently say that I am a Zoom expert.

Did I mention I write a column in the British Bandsman and publish a video on their social media every two weeks?

Did I also mention I do the odd interview feature with them, with the next one due for publication very soon?

Well, in case I didn't, now you know and if you are interested in reading my content for the British Bandsman, you can subscribe to the magazine by clicking here and follow them on Instagram and Facebook to watch my videos.

You can never have too much brass band content!

Anyhoo, those are my words of the year for 2020.

Did I miss any?

Which words would you nominate?


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