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Contest Day- A Parody

Here are the thoughts and observations I and I’m sure many other banders have experienced…with a dash of comedic license.

Exaggerated or accurate? You decide.


Contest Morning

  1. ‘This is too early for a Saturday/Sunday’

  2. Searching for matching black socks, walking out tie/and or bow tie.

  3. ‘Not ironed my shirt…I’ll hang it in the bathroom when I have a shower- it’ll be reet. You won’t see the creases when I put my jacket on anyway…’

  4. ‘Music, mutes, phone, keys, beer for the coach, wallet…I’m all set.’

  5. *Leaves house* ‘CRAP! My instrument!’

  6. Searches for keys, drops mutes in process, walks back to the house mumbling expletives.

Band Coach

  1. Someone just had to bring a sandwich/crisps/finger food that manages to stink the entire coach out.

  2. Someone christens the coach loo…everyone prays that it wasn’t a number two- the combination of smelly food and a coach lavatory, does not make for a fun coach ride.

  3. Start thinking of everything you could have possibly forgotten… ‘did I definitely put my test piece in my instrument case? I put my bow-tie in the left-hand pocket of my concert jacket, I think. DID I PUT MY INSTRUMENT ON THE COACH?!*’

Despite checking I have everything approximately a GAZILLION times before leaving the house, I still spend at least half the journey worrying that I’ve forgotten something. You’d think logic would prevail as, even if I did leave something behind, remembering on the coach is to late to do anything about it anyway- apparently not…why do I do this? Anyone else have this issue?

Waiting for the draw


  2. Works out the time between performance and results for each possible draw to calculate maximum beer time.


  4. Receives undesirable draw, proceeds to curse the poor sod who had to do the draw and vows never to let them do it again.

  5. Casual check of the predictions.

  6. Claim they don’t mean anything anyway if you’re not predicted in the top three.

  7. If predicted in the top three, panic that the band has been given the kiss of death and can’t possibly do well- we just can’t be pleased can we?

Contest Venue

  1. Eye up the competition…with a smile on your face whilst saying ‘hi’ and ‘good luck!’ to fellow competitors that you definitely don’t hope you’ll beat…

  2. Catch up with fellow banders (update on latest banding gossip).

  3. Moan about the amount of time left until performance.

  4. Gaze with envy at those who have already played and are getting a round in at the bar.

Warm Up Room

  1. Men change out of walking- out uniform into contest gear in the middle of the room, without a care in the world…women go on an adventure to find a toilet.

  2. Once toilet is found, trying to change without any clothes/personal items touching the suspiciously wet toilet floor.

  3. ‘Where did I put my bowtie?’

  4. Warm up instrument (play most difficult part of piece to show you can play it…definitely not trying to intimidate players of other bands…nothing like a bit of healthy competition)

  5. At least one of the solo cornets plays the principal’s solo as part of warming up, just to irritate them…and show they can play it too.


  1. Check out everybody’s unflattering mug shots on bandsman cards.

  2. At least one person claims someone looks like a serial killer or some other kind of reprobate.

  3. Get’s to the registration desk- ‘ooo you’ve changed since this picture was taken!’ That picture was taken ten years, about two stone and three different hair colours ago…it happens.

  4. Conductor pacing, looking deep in thought about the battle ahead. ‘Will the back-row cornets come in together at bar before C.’ 

  5. A nice mix of people looking at test pieces, breathing the nerves away, last minute check in on facebook- #teamcornet #ilovemyband or sharing a bit of banding banter, whilst waiting to go on.

Contest Stage

  1. Walks on stage trying not to trip over chairs, stands or fall off the end of the stage

  2. Overthinking of how the stand is, how close it is to you and where you’ve positioned your mutes.*

  3. ‘On your whistle Mr Adjudicator’– longest ten seconds of your life, waiting for that whistle…

  4. Away we go!

*Even though you’ve been sitting in a bandroom where you’ve never paid a second thought to the position of your stand, you plonk your mutes down without thinking and nothing detrimental happened as a result… but on the contest stage, oh no, my straight mute is too close to my right foot. I’ll probably knock it over in the quiet section…I’ll just move it a little to the left. But will I be able to reach it in time, I’ve only got three bars rest to get it…Oh hell!


  1. Walk off stage, again avoiding chairs, stands, the edge of the stage.

  2. Casual glance at the performance reviews online and mid-contest predictions

  3. Fight your way through a torrent of thirsty banders to the bar- it’s survival of the fittest…’better buy two pints at a time, save me coming back.’

  4. Back in the contest hall for the results…head potentially slightly cloudier than it was a couple of hours ago…

Road-Trip Home

  1. A lot louder than the trip down to the contest.

  2. If the coach has a microphone facility, conductor gets up to give praising, encouraging or slightly-annoyed pep-talk to the band, depending on what events happened on stage- #SPEEEECH!

  3. Beer, beer everywhere.

  4. At least one person has managed to pinch a pint glass from the bar- call it a souvenir.

  5. On-coach entertainment: sing-songs (with varying degrees of alternative lyrics and/or profanity), in-aisle dancing and my personal favourite: beer-bottle choirs (how many notes can you get by blowing across the tops of bottles filled with different levels of beer).

  6. Relieved that the next rehearsal will be focused on music other than the test piece…unless next rehearsal is on Christmas music.

Day after Contest

Can go one of three ways…


  1. ‘Wonderful time at [insert contest here]. Proud of our performance. Soloists where amazing! I love my band! Head is a bit sore this morning! #celebratinghard #wewon #winners

Gracious in Defeat

  1. ‘Not the result we were looking for. Still proud of our performance. Well done to [insert winners]. Onwards and upwards!’

Definitely not bitter…

  1. ‘WE WAS ROBBED!!’

  2. ‘Contesting is old-fashioned anyway!’

  3. Criticisms about adjudicators, test pieces, contest venue, the draw, bar prices, car park fees, state of the toilets…

What contests thoughts would you add? Let me know in the comments!


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