Community music making

Community music making

James Galway was being interviewed on RTE radio this morning. Generally I’d be a bit wary of celebs like this as they usually have a well rehearsed patter. He was asked at one point about people following his musical path and he more or less said it was pointless. That he grew up in an era of little TV or media of any kind, and amongst various types of community music, that he was exposed to classical music and that was his path. That these days the music culture was very different and that’s where careers lay etc. That orchestras were fading away and interest in classical music was declining and so on.

This got me thinking on community music of which trad sessions are of course, one expression. But I also know that villages and towns in the area of Ireland where I live, once sported a variety of bands - brass bands, flute bands, pipe bands, ceili bands and so on, all practically gone. I can think of one pipe band left and a youth orchestra. Other than that and outside the trad scene, musical opportunity seems limited to the odd few who’ll put together a ‘rock’ band. But of course, music is still a very important part of our kid’s lives - they’d hardly go anywhere without an iPod and going to gigs etc. is where it’s at socially too.

What’s it like in your part of the world? Are there opportunities for music making in the local community, regardless of genre? Are the generations slowly but inexorably being turned into consumers rather than makers of music?

Re: Community music making

In North East England in the 1960s and 70s there were what we called "Jazz Bands", groups of mostly young people with home-made uniforms and banners who marched around the streets playing kazoos, drums, glockenspiel and xylophone.

I thought this tradition was long vanished, but cycling through Seghill the other day I heard the familiar awful sound of the massed kazoos, and there on a football field was a Jazz Band rehearsal. A quick Google and I find that there are many of these bands still in existence in the area:

Alfreton Ambers

Auckland Golden Eagles Jazz Band

Blyth Hearts Jnrs

blyth kellrow hearts new site

Crook Town Grenadiers Juvenile Jazz Band

Debonaires Marching Jazzband

Howdon Melody makers JJB

howdon ottoneons marching jazzband

HYLTON CASTLE GUARDS Juvenile Jazz Band - Sunderland

New Brancepeth Revellers Jazz Band

Millenniumaires Jazz Band

Roseworth Kioras Junior Jazz Band

Ryhope Allstars Marching Display Band

Shildon Jubilees Jazzband New Site

Shildon Jubilees Juvenile Jazzband


The Legionnaires

The Monterays Marching Display Band

Thee Goldenaires JJB


Wallsend Wanderers Marching Jazz Band

Washington Sovereigns Marching Jazz Band

washingtonians marching jazz band

Woodhouse Jubilee Jazzband

woodhouse jubilee jazzband

Woodhouse Wanderers Jazzband

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Well, that’s an impressive list Bernie - if they’re all on the go. Who runs them I wonder and what sort of stuff do they play? Hardly jazz.

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That’s one of the most disturbing clips I have ever seen on youtube. Tell me it happens in another country.

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Oh I am pleased David.

The tradition appears to be associated with coal mining areas.

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I hope the social historians don’t neglect it when they write up the last few decades of those areas.

Not quite Billy Elliot though.

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I remember those jazz bands from when I was a kid in the north east of England. The girls all wanted to be majorettes, or whatever they called them, and there was a lot of baton-twirling going on on street corners. I think they all played ‘"When the Saints Go Marching In"; but they just used to march through town in a rectangle and stop now and then in a field (there used to be fields in those days). It’s rather disturbing to see how it has evolved - or rather mutated - into that surreal stuff on Youtube.
There used to be brass bands as well. The last I heard, the council where I am now stopped the Salvation Army playing on Sundays because someone complained about the noise. Since then, nada.

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Meanwhile, Artiste, I have found a list of 92 Ukulele Clubs in the UK.

Isn’t it great how these people are not coming to sessions?

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That marching competition is extraordinary alright Bernie - is it attached to any particular political philosophy? Lot of goose stepping in places and odd mannersims! Then some seems to be pure USA marching band razz ma tazz, if that’s not doing our friends a disservice :)

Uke bands I have heard of here - a brother in law even plays in one, up Dublin direction.

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Community music is going from strength to strength is our little corner of Scotland. From a population of just 13,000 we have: a folk club, a guitar club, African drumming group, brass band, two pipe bands, school orchestra, school fiddle orchestra, two ecclesiastic and one secular choirs, and the call has just gone out for musicians to form a big band. No marching jazz band I’m afraid, but we do have cheerleaders, country dancers and highland dancers. And an amateur dramatic society with its own band and a very strong junior section.

One thing that has helped a lot is that we put a stage and PA into the town square on a regular basis, and get the various groups and local bands to entertain the Saturday afternoon shoppers for free. Not only does it brighten up the town, but it is also helping them to attract new members.

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Minnespolis St. Paul MN USA area: 35 or so concert bands, at least two at essentially professional level, 15 or so community orchestras again some at close to professional level, 15 or so choruses again at all levels, 2 "british style" brass bands, 4 or 5 large brass ensembles, a couple of regular all level bluegrass jams, a couple of all level old timey jams, at least 4 or 5 sessions of varying levels (when Patty O’Brian and Daithe Sproule show up lots of folks tend to listen :) ), several regular organized groups that play for contra dancing or English country dance or Scottish country dance, at least three pipe bands, I don’t know how many "big band" jazz groups, and probably lots more I don’t know about. It has been speculated that there is more arts activity per capita than any place else in the US except New York City, and some claim it is greater than there. Am I bragging? Sure, why not :)

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Well that’s all encouraging to hear and holds out some hope for the future!!

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Oh Good Grief PADDY O’Brian. Never post when you’re half asleep!

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Wake up, cboody. It’s O’Brien, not O’Brian.

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Northern Ireland has a surprising number of small communities meeting to make music on a regular basis; the best thing I’ve done in years was to support one through obtaining grants for equipment, which led to meeting another, and another, and another… they’re everywhere if you just scratch the surface.

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That’s true and I think it’s fair to say that the Orangemen show a good commitment in this regard, in particular.

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@ GaryAMartin: "Wake up, cboody…." Indeed. Sorry..