Always Look on the bright side of band
At the present time it can be easy for us to get stuck in a pessimistic, gloomy rut- cheers Covid-19!
We’re not at band. We can’t go to the pub. Some of us are temporarily out of work or sick of staring at the four walls of our home offices and some of us are doing amazing, but tiring work on the frontline (if this is you, thank you for being the most awesome people on the planet right now). So, with very little to do, it can be easy to be sucked into some of the negative stuff that is in the press and posted on social media. One particular article stood out to m
e that I read on Tuesday this week, which talked about the worrying impact of Covid-19 may have on the banding world – cheery reading! Coincidently, I submitted an article for the British Bandsman last Sunday (click here to read) that was talking about the complete opposite, as I think banding will take a lot of positive things away from this period of lockdown and, as much as I appreciate we will need to deal with whatever consequences the lockdown may bring us, is focussing on the negatives really necessary right now…when we’re already fed up?!
So, I’m going to continue with my optimisim and try to prevent as many banders as I can from falling into the deep, dark, depressing Covid-19 hole of negativity.
Let me start off by saying, I’ve not been living under a rock, I am aware of the following facts:
Banding events need funding
Bands need funding to take part in banding events
Bands need audiences in order to make money from ticket sales
Bands need players to play in events,, to sell tickets to make money, so banding can survive
However, a lack of cash, audiences and players have been plaguing bands before Covid-19. I’m currently reading a book, called ‘Labour and Love’ which is made up of a series of interviews from banders and was written in the 1980s. Towards the end of the book, the interviewees gave their opinions of the banding world and the main complaints were that banding isn’t pulling in the audiences that they used to, lack of funding and player shortages due to younger people choosing other hobbies over learning an instrument…sound familiar?
Banders have been complaining about these issues for 40 years! What does that tell me? We’re good at complaining, but not so good at sorting it out.
Do I worry that some people won’t return to bands because they may have other priorities financially or might not want band to take up so much of their life anymore? Yes. Am I going to sit here worrying about it? No! Why? Because in reality, despite how convincing some ‘journalists’ and writers sound, none of use know what is going to happen after the lockdown. I’m just going to repeat this louder for those in the back:
‘NONE OF US KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!’
The negative speculation is just that – speculation. It’s not a prediction. So, here is a controversial idea – let’s speculate positively! Why don’t we look at what the banding world could be like after Covid-19, if we didn’t look at it like some of the Negative Nellies that are spouting off on social media. This alternative positive reality idea was inspired John Barber’s ‘Utopian Banding’ posts on the Bored Bandsmen Facebook Group, but implementing steps that wouldn’t be hard for us to achieve in order to improve our movement. I’m not saying that ITV is going to start broadcasting the National Finals and Brass In Concert instead of the FA Cup or The X Factor (as much as I wish they would), but I think that we can use this time wisely to improve our image in the public eye and help our movement to not just continue, but thrive.
APR – Alternative Positive Reality
The lockdown lifts. Rather than sitting on their backsides, drinking gin and moaning that they can’t go to rehearsals, bands up and down the country have spent the time in solitary confinement building the beginning of a revolution. A revolution to bring the movement that we are fiercely passionate about into the public eye. They realise that money will need to be raised and audiences will need to be found so that their bands can continue. In order to do this, they understand that changes need to be made. Changes that may appear to be big, but are actually manageable and achievable.
Use of technology
During the lockdown bands used the power of social media to show off their playing. It showed them playing both lyrical pieces that exhibit the brass band sound and exciting, relevant pop music, Most importantly it showed them having…fun?! That’s not something the mainstream media associates with brass bands is it? Furthermore, it showed young people getting involved. Again, doesn’t the mainstream media portray banding as something that is old, stuffy and not something the youth of today get involved in? After the lockdown, bands continue to use video editing software and the power of social media for the social media marketing of their band in interesting ways. Some bands even appoint a person to take responsibility for the social media marketing of their band. The public become intrigued by brass bands and, fuelled by their curiosity, start to attend concerts to see what it’s all about.
During their time away from the bandrooms, banders start to appreciate their hobby more than they ever have done before. They realise how important their banding friendships are. They understand that, although it can be demanding and sometimes inconveninet to have band concerts and contests to prepare for, not only are they necessary, but they provide a goal which motivates us to practise. Banders never took performance opportunities for granted again. In fact, they supported them by inventing new and exciting ways to make their performances more interesting. They no longer saved innovation, choreography and interesting concert features just for entertainment contests.
After seeing the success created from implementing modern ideas, technology and repertoire, the banding world became more open-minded and started to grow and adapt to become more relevant. The movement mixed tradition with modernisation to create performances that people of all ages would like to see. Banders no-longer criticised new ideas or ridiculed suggestions that would make banding more interesting.
Although the lockdown was tough on the banding world, the banding world was tougher. We worked together. We appreciated our movement so much that we worked to keep it alive and our bands emerged from isolation with innovative ideas. Banders went to other band’s concerts to raise audience numbers, get ideas for their own bands whilst putting money in another band’s kitty so they can continue to play. All in all, despite the negativity that was thrown at them from the press and social media, the banding movement didn’t despair. They instead looked on the brighter side of band and it was this that ensured that banding was able to continue.
Don’t lose hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A light that has been reflected from the bell of a brass instrument, which can only be possible if we keep our chins up, our imaginations flowing and our instruments on our lips.
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