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Old 01-19-2017, 02:00 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: UK
Posts: 42
Default Rebuilding A Band

Local band in a poor state of affairs:

Band has :

- core of pipers (6ish), good enough to provide tuition
- no 'proper' drummers, borrow some + learners from other band in wider area
- practice hall, uniforms, instruments, equipment, funds

Essentially the band has lost players over the years, ceased competing, and now struggles to even fulfill local events. LOOKING FOR ANY/ALL IDEAS.
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Old 01-19-2017, 02:39 PM   #2
Andrew Lenz
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Location: Santa Cruz, California
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

- Host a workshop with a big name piper.
- Start having dessert/potluck after some practices.
- Go to local secondary schools and try and recruit young new talent.

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Old 01-19-2017, 03:08 PM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

Keep players and new wannabes that care 110%. Shed those who don't.

Make clear what are the band goals and objectives. The PM ( usually the most competent player) position is a benevolent dictatorship.....Stick to it...but don't be afraid to solicit input from the PS and DS.

Devote a year or so to improvement ( in basics and hence, 'simple' tunes,). Seek competent outside instruction..Even part time...2-3 weeks on 2-3 weeks off....To work on the taught material, techniques,etc.
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Old 01-20-2017, 04:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

A few thoughts:

- Good leadership is make or break for a band. One person who can set a direction, make decisions, and work for the good of the band can make a massive difference.

- Do not put up with people who are negative or disruptive. You may only have six people but if one of those six is causing problems, you are better off with five.

- 98% of bands need to produce a constant stream of learners in order to maintain a healthy membership. Very few bands can survive by depending on being good enough to attract capable players.

- The band must have a plan and goals and work towards them. There are few things more soul-destroying than turning up to a band practice week after week and grinding through the same sets, not working in particular on anything then going home having achieved nothing in particular.

- Consider what contribution you can make to piping locally. You might not have a functional band, but maybe you can host a big name recital, or organise a workshop, or run a contest. That gets your name known in all sorts of places and can be a useful stepping stone for the future.
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Old 01-20-2017, 03:16 PM   #5
LJ Neville
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Location: NJ
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

Such great suggestions. Every organization experiences the cycle of greater then lesser, then greater membership. Those organizations that survive the lean times do so because they either reinvent themselves to make or keep themselves relevant, or if deciding to retain the identity or purpose in place when the loss of membership occurred, improve their communication with and visibility to the target audience (having identified that audience correctly).

Some questions the 6-ish of you might discuss and then answer as a group are "why is this band important to me?"..."why do we want this band to continue?"... "what is the identity/purpose of the band"..."does that identity/purpose need revision to attract players or students?"..."if not revising our identity/purpose, how do we become successful at attracting players and students?"

Perhaps, since you have a hall, you might think of yourself as a "piping club" rather than a pipe band, and if you want to perform with drummers you might hire some with the proceeds from the gig. That puts you in control of quantity and quality, and keeps you playing/visible to the community. You also might use the hall to host recitals of local instructors who then might bring their students along for the recital, your band meets them, perhaps there's a connection... How about a recital for the local Scottish snare drumming instructor, and your mates provide the piping for him or her?

I think the first thing that needs to happen is a discussion among the remaining members - a successful plan forward will require consensus and enthusiasm for whatever plan you enact. Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:58 AM   #6
Paul M Burke
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

What part of the Uk?

Have a meeting of the current members and decide what the band wants.
With a clear vision of where the band would like to be in two or three years, organise a general meeting or even invent an award cermany or anniversarie and invite all current and as many former members as can be gathered. Not just recent members but historic ones also.

Lay out the plan for the band during the speech and then work the room hard during the tea and cake. Often people are reluctant to rejoin because they fear the group has moved on and they would struggle to fix back in. While others situations have changed and it never occurred to them to come back to the band.

Visit local youth organisations (a source of eager young learners) to gauge if a symbiotic relationship can be established.

Just some thoughts,
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Old 02-01-2017, 05:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

Have a look at this Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/CQBNPD/ . This is how I've gone about building the band. I provide a post activity report after every practice and event. We have an agreed purpose, vision and values https://www.facebook.com/CQBNPD/posts/10155165032965934 . We have instigated a development night. Finally we have a "closed secret" FaceBook page for internal business, critiques of sub-optimal performances, and to air grievances.

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Old 02-02-2017, 06:25 AM   #8
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Location: North Augusta, ON
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

Tons of excellent suggestions here. While rebuilding the band, you may also want to look back to figure out why people left the band. Did they move onto a higher grade band or wanted to try playing with a competition band? Was there a toxic/tense atmosphere at the time people were bailing? Were there too many band events or not enough band events? Was the person in charge qualified to teach, lead and "gel" the group?

I move around a lot and have had both good and bad band experiences. There is one band, I played with 30 years ago, that still plays the same music...boring!

Another band had an excellent PM who was absent for many practices and events. Some band members were traveling great distances to attend practice. When the PM was a no show, there was no second in command so the practice turned into a visit. The band went from 21 pipers to about 9 when I resigned.

As for recruiting/rebuilding, you may want to organize a trip (say for two summers from now) with the idea that new players will be proficient enough to play concerts &/or street band competitions. The band should be prepared to subsidize the trip. I know of one band that determined the amount each player was subsidized. A player would receive one point for each practice he/she attended and two points for each event played. This increased attendance appreciably.

Good luck with your endeavor!
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Old 02-02-2017, 08:00 PM   #9
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Location: Guelph, Ontario
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

See if there is any cadet unit nearby. My band was at risk of completely falling apart, unable to compete, not even in grade 5. But a few of the members at the time got a few of us in the air cadets to pick up piping and drumming (myself being one of those cadets), and from there that launched a 4 year journey from not even grade 5, up to fourth place in grade 3 last year, and now forming a grade 5 and 3 multi-band organization.
Basically, any youth organization (cadets, scouts, etc.) are a good bet on where to start to rebuild a band. Just got to make sure to teach them right!
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Old 02-05-2017, 01:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Rebuilding A Band

Thanks guys for the suggestions so far.

I'm trying to stay positive, although the suggestions I'm making keep getting shot down or that old chestnut "we've tried that before".

- a drum tutor is a phone call away for rudiments/massed band scores (was previously with the band but left during a divorce)
- youth club down the road, with literally 100's each week (across different nights, so there's enough kids to try to turn heads)
- ad in paper, changed by editors in places (so now refuse to work together, leaflets didn't work as expected so that idea is also buried)
- website out of date, no list of practice times, although we have access to it to change it (it lists events in 2015 as upcoming!)

It's really incredible - I'm not long in the door, and know it'd be a lot of work, but they seem content with what they're doing, or happy to moan. I'm tempted to take on the PM role but I've other things in my life and would need help and support from these guys, but they don't seem to want to change things.

Thanks to the offer of a phone call from someone here. Gave your site a wee read, a lot of good ideas and surprisingly, not a million miles from how I'd do it.
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