Barton Community Band’s frequently asked questions aims to answer some of the questions that we get through our website and when we are out and about performing.
Some questions are more common than others, and we’ve included a few frequently asked questions that aren’t that frequently asked, but we thought you might find helpful too!
How much does it cost to hire a brass band?
Costs vary depending on several factors.
It goes without saying that a small ensemble of 4 or 6 musicians costs significantly less than a full 28 piece band.
An informal Christmas carolling session requires less time and planning than a stately home presentation in full band regalia.
And the logistics of playing a garden party in Barton are simpler than a garden party in Milton Keynes.
To get a truly accurate idea of cost for hiring our band, the simplest way is to let us know your requirements and we can tailor a package to suit your budget.
How many musicians make up a brass band?
A brass band is limited when competing to a maximum of:
25 brass instruments + 3 percussionists.
1 Soprano cornet in E♭
9 Cornets in B♭ (in separate parts for ‘Solo’, ‘Repiano’, 2nd and 3rd cornets; there are 4 players on the ‘Solo’ part, one Repiano, two 2nd, and two 3rd)
1 Flugel horn in B♭ (notated on the same part as the ‘Repiano’ in some older music)
3 Tenor horns in E♭ (called Solo, 1st and 2nd)
2 Baritone horns in B♭ (each with separate parts)
2 Tenor trombones (notated in B♭, playing separate parts)
1 Bass trombone (the only brass instrument in the band notated in Concert Pitch (C) on Bass Clef)
2 Euphoniums in B♭ (usually playing the same part with divisi sections)
4 Tubas (2 in E♭ and 2 in B♭, both notated in Treble Clef; often called Basses)
3 percussion players (with 2 or more timpani, glockenspiel, snare drum, triangle, cymbals, a drum kit and more)
How often does the band rehearse?
Barton Community Band rehearse twice a week throughout the year and up to four times a week in preparation for competitions and events.
How long do you play for?
Our usual performance time is around 2 hours with a 15 minute break for refreshments.
What does the band need for a performance?
A few factors to bear in mind when booking a large brass band:
The band usually takes around 30 minutes to get set up. This is best done out of the view of your guests if possible.
The performance area needs to be approximately 20m² (4m x 5m).
The band usually sits in a horseshoe type formation of 2 rows. Seating needs to be practical, comfortable and chairs without arms are preferred.
There could be 28 of us, so car parking space is necessary. Some of our instruments are bulky, so close vehicular access is required for unloading.
We love playing outdoors, but plan for inclement weather. Sheet music doesn’t like wind, drums don’t like rain and chairs with thin legs sink in to soggy grass! A suitable marquee may be necessary or the plan B option of moving indoors.
Somewhere to change in to our band uniforms is appreciated, and so are some light refreshments during our 15 minute half time interlude.
My favourite tune is not on your list – Can you play it?
No, unfortunately we only play from sheet music.
Do you have your own PA & lighting equipment?
We have our own PA but lighting will need to be provided by the venue if required.
Do you have public liability insurance?
Yes, our insurance certificates can be seen on the Policies page.
How are brass bands graded?
Bands are graded into 5 sections:
Championship, First, Second, Third and Fourth.
In March each year, all UK bands compete in a regional contest. The top two bands from each section go forward to compete in the finals against the top two band from all the other regional contests, and the position each band gets at the contest is used to determine their place in the league table.
The final league table is based upon a three year average, so a band getting 3rd place in year 1, 5th place in year 2 and 3rd place in year 3 would get a final total of 11 points. After the totals have been worked out, the top two bands in each section are promoted, and the bottom two relegated.
Where bands are promoted / relegated, they are given average points for the previous two years. These average points are denoted either ap (average promoted) or ar (average relegated).
Is there a league table of brass bands?
Can a player compete with more than 1 band?
No. A player can only be registered and therefore compete with one band at a time.
The rules allow for transfers should a player decide to move to another band.
For some contests, bands are allowed to borrow a limited number of players.
This situation is proving more problematic for UK bands over time as the number of young players is ever decreasing.
How much do brass instruments cost?
Depending on the make and model, brass instruments come at various prices from £100 to several thousand £+, and in the case of a tuba (bass) even as much as £20,000.
Of course while price plays a significant role in quality and durability of an instrument, the fact remains that the highest price is not always the better instrument.
What’s the difference between a cornet & a trumpet?
The difference is very minor. They both play the same notes and they sound very similar. The trumpet looks a bit longer and more slender than a cornet. Trumpets are usually around 19” long, cornets between 13” and 16”.
The size difference between cornets and trumpets happens because the tubing on a trumpet is only coiled in one complete revolution while the cornet’s tubing is coiled in two complete revolutions.
The difference in sound is mainly attributed to the shape of the bore. Trumpet bores are cylindrical, causing a more piercing and direct sound. The conical bore of the cornet, however, creates a warmer, softer, and rounder sound.
Trumpets are most often found in orchestras, jazz, and in the horn sections of rock and pop bands. Cornets are most often found in a brass band. The main place that you’ll find them being played together are concert and military bands.
If there’s any information that you’ve been looking for and haven’t managed to find on our website, please ask away here where we’ll be only too pleased to help!