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The Band are currently preparing to go to the Scottish brass band Championships which are held in the Concert hall in Perth on Sat 10th March.
We will be competing in the 2nd Section and this years set test piece is 'ExTerra Lucem' by composer Jonathan Bates, translated it means "Out Of The Earth Came Light" It is also the motto for St. Helens in Merseyside.
We will once again be under the directorship of MD Philip Rosier and look forward to playing this very musical piece which is full of tricky corners and  requires the neatest of playing.

The SBBA have been working to improve Scottish Banding. The Following report has all the details.

Report by SBBA Special Working Group
Background The working group was set up in response to a presentation made to the SBBA Executive. This presentation had given a statistical overview of:
the performance of Scottish bands in UK competitions over the past several years; the performance of lower section bands in competitions within Scotland.

Remit The statistics contained in the presentation gave the SBBA Executive cause for concern and the Special Working Group was set up with the following remit:
Examine the possible reasons for poor results at UK and European competitions, specifically the grading system; Recommend a range of actions that will improve the musical standard of bands and support the sustainability and development of bands and banding.

Procedure The Group met six times to consider historical, statistical and anecdotal evidence. It also obtained comparative information from England and countries in Europe. It also examined a list of potential figureheads for the movement in Scotland from the worlds of business, arts, media and celebrity.

Findings While there is much evidence of good practice within bands, and noteworthy individual performances by bands, the Group found that:
Despite recent successes, a general trend has emerged over the past 12 years: Scottish bands fail to perform well at UK competitions, especially in the lower sections, and appear to be adrift from common European standards; Within each of the Scottish sections it was clear that many bands were struggling with the test-pieces allocated to that section; The present Grading System is overly complex and skewed by the present practice of averaging over three years; Many bands have difficulty in obtaining and keeping players: there is a merry-go-round of players moving to more successful bands, rendering many lower section bands vulnerable and endangered; Many bands are not interacting with their communities leading to a “ghetto” effect; Decision-making within bands often fails to be democratic, with irregular AGMs, inadequate committee structures, and the Band Secretary acting as sole arbiter for decisions to SBBA; SBBA, despite doing more effortful work with young people, is not as powerful in field of Youth Music as other comparative organisations such the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland or the National Children’s Choir.

Conclusions The Group has concluded that:
The present Grading system may be a factor in the trends outline above; Bands, as musical organisations, need to be developed to improve their capacity to attract young players, interact with their communities, increase the level of funding success, and improve their organisational structure; SBBA needs to gain deeper access to the levers of Scottish Government and Creative Scotland

Recommendations The five Recommendations derive from the Group’s Findings and Conclusions:
1. The Public Profile of Brass Bands The profile of the brass band movement in Scotland is less positive than that of Pipe Bands. This lack of a high profile affects public perceptions and the perceptions of potential funders. This is because of insufficient media interest. We recommend the following actions by bands and SBBA:

Increased media coverage: Bands need to increase their public profile through increased media coverage: public events should be pre-publicised and then reported in local press (which will often print stories verbatim). A band member could have this task. Local media is interested in local stories and bands should seek SBBA’s advice on how to place these. Bands should also make more use of SBBA’s publicity and press officer; Public performances: Bands should remember that public engagements are areas of potential recruitment and getting the public on-side: the music played at public engagements should therefore be appropriate; Brass Showcase: Bands should consider offering joint concerts with neighbouring bands. Local media will be interested in an event like this, and the audience can get to choose the most entertaining band and so become involved in the Showcase; Bandstand engagements: Bands should approach Councils about the possibility of playing in Bandstands or other public spaces. If Councils show no interest, Community Councils could be approached; Brass Band Week: SBBA should consider how this could be revived as it is a potential source of much publicity: consideration should also be given to a Whit Friday-type of event; Edinburgh Festival: Within the thousands of performances in the 2017 Festival Fringe, there was only one performance by a brass band – it attracted an audience of over 700. There is potential for developing this into weekends of concerts during the Edinburgh Festival, held in some of Edinburgh’s public spaces.

2. SBBA’s relationship with Scottish Government SBBA and bands need financial and other support from government. It is important that:
SBBA has to make clear to Creative Scotland that what we are proposing has far greater scope and potential than much of what they are funding at present: SBBA must adopt the approach of other bodies and assume, and persuade government to assume, that we have the right to make financial demands; SBBA must provide continuous publicity and create a high profile; SBBA should investigate how to create an MSP group; SBBA must have regular meetings with Culture Minister and the Chief Executive of Creative Scotland; SBBA can no longer accept negative responses, but must find ways of exerting pressure on Government and funders.

3. Appointment of a high-profile figurehead for SBBA SBBA needs a high-profile establishment figure who has access to the ear of the Scottish Government and who represents an imposing figure to Creative Scotland. The Group recommends that the following person should be approached by SBBA with a view to their becoming a patron of the organisation (and a remit to promote brass bands at all levels):
Sir James MacMillan

4. Improving and recognising the organisational and musical standards of individual bands At present, bands are judged solely on their musical performance. However, successful bands may be organisationally poor, while well-managed bands may be less successful musically. Bands which have a developed Youth Programme, work extensively with their community, and are organisationally excellent get no credit for this. As we hope for every band to be a success, we recommend an additional method of assessing and recognising a band’s achievement: The Band Quality Mark Scheme.
We therefore recommend that:
SBBA investigates the creation of such a scheme which will include the following: Youth and Player Development: Youth Protection Policies, Solo and Ensemble Opportunities, Support for young players attending NYBBS; Community Interaction: Dealing with a Council, working with other voluntary groups, getting engagements; Legal aspects: Constitution, Legal Status, Insurance, Registration; Finance: Accounting, fundraising, preparing funding bids Committee Skills: Minute-Taking, AGMs; Library: Care, Acquisition Policies; Instruments: Insurance and Records Such a scheme could allow bands to develop at their own pace, and will require written materials, learning days and trainers. Creative Scotland could fund this through their Sustainability Strand. N.B. Members of the Working Group are interested in developing these ideas on behalf of SBBA.

5. The Grading System The present grading system should be simplified as follows:
Grading will be calculated on the combined results of TWO Scottish Championships; The two Scottish Championships will be the current year and the previous year; The places for each year will count equally and will be added together for a band’s score; In the event of a tie, the most recent placing will be the tie-breaker; The winning band in Sections 1-4 will automatically be promoted; The scores for all other bands in Sections Ch-4 will be calculated on the 2-year basis outlined above One band in Sections 1-4 with the lowest combined score will be promoted; Two bands in Sections Ch-3 with the highest combines score will be relegated; The winning band and second-placed band in each section will qualify for the UK Championships; The system will start from the 2019 Championships, based on the results of the 2018 and 2019 Scottish Championships.
Professor Raymond A Thomson (Special Working Group Secretary) 30 October 2017

Over 25 players and guest marched with the band around the streets of Jedburgh to help celebrate the New year.

With 7 stops for sustenance along the route, another chapter in 'band banter' was written and thanks must go to Laura and David Lightbody, Glen and Kerry-ann Ferguson, Alan Jack and Gary Kowbel, Billy and Joyce Lightbody, George Write, Jackie and Kevin Hill and the Royal British Legion for their kind hospitality.