Well I hope you're happy now... you now have half the Nationals bands (before lunch) competing under one set of rules and the other lot (after lunch) competing under rules which at the moment may or may not be passed. Let's hope that all bands have been given enough time to practice two different ways of doing their display.
People used to look up to your band and its members, both musically and socially. I'm not sure that is now happening. It's pity for the members sake that you seem to have dirtied the name of Rhyl.
Good luck at the Nationals - you'll probably need it - the competition is tough.
11/06/02 at 04:29:44
11/06/02 at 08:10:42
11/06/02 at 09:11:36
I also hope that the best bands win at the Nationals. I hope that the Judges don't have an alternative agenda and that they are not prejudiced. We shall see!
Good luck Rhyl, not that you need it. 3 wins at 3 separate contests can't lie.
11/06/02 at 16:26:46
Am I right in saying that this meeting we're having at the Nationals is not an AGM? Hence it does not run under constitutional rules and we do not have to have a minimum number of people there to re-elect committee members. I feel a little confused about the whole thing!
11/07/02 at 09:29:30
11/07/02 at 12:39:21
Thank you for contributing to our discussion page. We are very disappointed that, until now, no one has seen fit to join in any discussion, especially with the demise of the TYMBA discussion page. I have no way of knowing if you will return to this forum and read my reply, however, I am prepared to put the effort in to answer you anyway. Perhaps someone else will read it. I apologise in advance for providing more than a single line reply - unfortunately, I cannot compress the facts and sentiments into one line.
You appear to be under the impression that Rhyl Scout & Guide Band has done something wrong and underhand - something to be ashamed of. This is not the case. All we have been doing for the last six months, with precious little result, is to attempt to get the committee of TYMBA to abide by the Constitution of the Association. The Constitution is a set of rules, which practically all similar organisations have, which are laid down by the founders of an organisation and which say how the organisation should be run. You will find them at the front of your TYMBA rulebook. All the members (and especially the committee) should abide by these rules.
In particular, the Constitution says that an Annual General Meeting (AGM) needs to have a minimum number (a 'quorum') of Class A members (essentially bands and contests, as opposed to individual band or committee members) present before any issues can be voted upon, and only Class A members can vote. This is expressly designed to safeguard the Association (comprising all the members) from important decisions being taken by only a very small (and therefore probably unrepresentative) number of members. Typical business is the acceptance of the accounts, election of officers, amendment of rules, etc, even the making of changes to the Constitution itself. The AGM in March did NOT have enough people present (the Constitution requires 15 Class A members) to do any of these things, and therefore all the business voted on was simply not valid. It is unfortunate that some loyal members travelled long distances to be there.
The correct procedure under these circumstances is to abandon the meeting and to call another meeting(obviously after prodding the rest of the membership into life) in the hope that enough members will attend the second time. Many amateur associations face this problem from time to time, and it is a great inconvenience, but it is nevertheless what must be done to preserve the proper running of the organisation. The better organisations have active participation by a high proportion of the membership. The TYMBA Constitution requires that the AGM (whether the first, second, or subsequent attempt) be held no later than 21 April. So there was plenty of time for the committee to do this, and certainly no one would actually have objected to it being a little later than this, provided they were trying their best to organise it.
However, your committee took it upon themselves to ignore the Constitution - a power which they do not have. They deliberately continued with the meeeting, without even telling the attendees that they were wasting their time. Moreover, they have continued to hide this fact from the membership (yourselves obviously included), and, until very recently, have repeatedly insisted that all the business transacted was still valid. Only after persistent pressure from us has the committee now admitted (in writing) that the AGM was inquorate and that the business was invalid.
WE suggested that the committee should put its house in order by calling a short Special General Meeting (to be held at the Nationals because a quorum would be virtually guaranteed) simply to get them formally elected so that, for example, they could legally administer the Association's funds (stricly speaking, since they were not formally elected, they had no legal authority to use the funds). A Special General Meeting is covered by the Constitution (the quorum is the same as for an AGM), and is now required because it is far too late to hold the Annual General Meeting this year. Our proposals for that meeting had only three, uncontentious items on the agenda: a formal statement about the inquorate AGM as the reason for calling the meeting, a reaffirmation that everyone should obey the constitution, and a formal election of the current committee. We deliberately left out many provocative items which we would like to have raised so that the meeting could be kept short. In a letter to all bands, we even supported the election of the very committee which has given us so much trouble, in the interests of the association.
However, in spite of telling us that the above is exactly what they proposed to do, the committee has added an extra (very provocative) item to the agenda, namely, to declare all the business of the AGM to be now valid, and, moreover, to backdate the validity to March, simply, in our opinion, to try to hang on to our disqualification. Apart from it being an extremely bad and unusual practice to backdate decisions (unfortunately, the Constitution does not expressly forbid it), it is extremely foolhardy and irresponsible to encourage members to approve important business like accepting the accounts or rule changes at a meeting which is only supposed to last 15 minutes. Since the wording of at least one rule change is known to be extremely poor, these matters should be properly and fully discussed before being approved or rejected. Next year's AGM is the best time to do that now - we trust it will be very well attended and that the membership will carefully discuss and consider all resolutions before voting.
Even if the rules were to be backdated, that simply reopens the discussion of the fact that the wording of the rule in question does not actually prohibit conducting at all, it simply limits it to blocks of eight bars at a time. It has rather futile things to say about hand signals, however. If the rule was supposed to limit conducting in the manner suggested by the committee, it could very easily have been clearly worded to do so. It was not. We suspect that the rule was deliberately introduced to curb the success of the Rhyl band by 'levelling the playing field'. If this is true, then it has spectacularly failed, since we have won our last two contests entirely without the use of conducting, and will continue to do so at the Nationals, whatever the outcome of the lunchtime meeting.
If the committee had not introduced this backdating item to the agenda in an attempt to save face, we would not now be in the ludricuous position of having the first half of the Nationals run under the old rules, but not knowing until lunchtime on the day which rules should be used for the second half (and for subsequent contests until properly changed). Equally, if the committee had simply admitted that the AGM was not quorate when we first pointed it out in June, they could have got away without disclosing that they deliberately disobeyed the Constitution by continuing with the meeting, knowing it to be inquorate. They could have upheld our appeal without losing face on the grounds of the rule not being properly passed, and none of this fiasco need have developed further.
There is a great deal more to this saga than meets the eye, or than appears here. However, if from what you have read so far, you have the fair-minded interest to find out more, then you can read all the correspondence we have had with the committee on this subject, including the letters which have been sent to all bandmasters, elsewhere on this web site. If you are short of time, I suggest you read the most recent letters first. We have the original documents to verify all the statements and quotations in our letters and the contents of the replies. Simply go back to the home page and click on the link at the bottom of the page: "Correspondence regarding the disqualification appeal may be found here". You may save the web page to your hard disk and read it off-line at your leisure. I would be glad to receive your comments, especially after you have read the correspondence, either via the forum, or directly by email.
As in many other walks of life, if more people would take the trouble to read the facts and make an unbiased judgement, much heartache could be avoided. It has never been Rhyl's intention to disrupt the stability of the Traditional Youth Marching Band Association, and we wholeheartedly support its aims. However, when members, and especially the committee (who should set a good example), blatantly and grossly flout the rules of the Association, which have been enshrined in the Constitution for many years, someone has to speak out. You will note that there was no shortage of people willing to speak out when they supposed that Rhyl had broken a contest rule, even though it hadn't actually been passed.
You do not have to take our word for what is proper procedure for running an association - any person with even a small knoledge of clubs and societies will tell you the same. We have even consulted solicitors simply to confirm that this is so. The fact the the committee have at last called this special meeting to get themselves properly elected indicates that their own legal advice has also confirmed this. It is such a shame that they could not resist muddying the waters yet again.
You say that people used to look up to the Rhyl band. If only people would take the trouble to determine the true facts for themselves, they would realise that respect was not misplaced. The Rhyl band has always tried to set a high standard of musical presentation and has never deliberately violated any rules. We take it as a challenge to be as entertaining as possible within the confines of the rules, whatever they may be.
Rhyl has, however, been guilty in the past of being apathetic about the running of TYMBA. As long as the contests go by without a hitch, most bands are happy to leave these matters to someone else. For years we have been entering contests without even seeing a copy of the rules, relying on 'hearsay' to know what was acceptable. This disqualification has unfortunately brought to light a number of very unsavoury and disturbing aspects of the way the Association has been run on your behalf.
With regard to the welfare of the youngsters in our band, and, indeed, in other bands, we believe it is important that they should see adults standing up for what is right, not ignoring injustice and maintaining a quiet life at all costs. It is clear that this episode has already created great unhappiness in our band members, and, in our opinion, this is entirely due to the unconstitutional activities of the TYMBA committee, and was wholly and easily avoidable. Whether there will be any long-term benefit to anybody remains to be seen. You may deduce that the answer to your title question is that we are not happy now.
Musical Director, RSGB
11/07/02 at 23:22:56
I am sure the judges booked for the Nationals would find it very insulting to be accused of having an 'Alternative Agenda' especially when you don't even know who they are. The judges at the Nationals will give their unbiased comments TO ALL BANDS. I think that you need to think a little bit more before you made such comments about people you know nothing about. If people like you carry on making such comments no one will want to judge at the contests as the amount of hassle they get outways the rewards.
We need to encourage GOOD JUDGES not discourage them with unwelcome back stabbing.
I have made this comment in my role as TYMBA Judges Liaison Officer not as a member of Rubery Youth Marching Band.
11/08/02 at 03:42:11
11/08/02 at 07:37:48
If a judge is not able to be neutral they should not be judging. Its a pity that some of the TYMBA Contests don't take this into account when booking judges. The standard and qualifications of judges at a lot of the contest this year has left a lot to be desired, how some of the people that have been judging came to do is beyond me and a lot of other people in the Association. It appears that quite a few people this year thought they would like to have a go at judging and some contests let them. These people are doing a huge injustice to the youth of the Association as most of the so called judges have not got a clue what they are talking about.
If we want to move the association onwards and upwards we need to encourage good quality judges that can give good quality feedback, this can only be done if the judges are not open to ridicule before they have even opended their mouths.
11/08/02 at 08:36:04
And here I was thinking it was down to the qulity of our performances. How silly of me.
11/08/02 at 10:52:42
11/08/02 at 13:53:13
It's good to know that other people do read what appears on our forum and even make posts of their own.
However, although this is an unmoderated forum, it is best to avoid innuendo - if there is some evidence for a statement, then by all means make it and reference the evidence. Otherwise, unsubstantiated implications and hints simply inflame passions and divert attention from the real issues, and poor Rhyl S&G Band gets associated with the sentiments and fallout even though it is an innocent bystander.
For example, 'hoping that the Judges don't have an alternative agenda and that they are not prejudiced' is very laudable at face value, but really suggests that you know something we don't (which you may, of course). Equally 'If a judge is not able to be neutral they should not be judging. Its a pity that some of the TYMBA Contests don't take this into account when booking judges' combines an undenyable fact with a hint that some contests (unspecified, but we know who!) have employed biased judges - surely only a personal opinion (but perhaps there is evidence...). Integrity, competence and hourly rate don't necessarily go hand in hand. Naughty, naughty, both of you!
Of course, I am perfect, as any Rhyl band member can tell you. (band members: this is only a joke - please don't post your evidence to the contrary on this public forum!)
With the vast amount of material we have written during the course of this appeal, we have found it very hard to avoid making emotional statements which cannot be justified, although we have tried our best. Since nobody has (yet) seen fit to challenge any of our statements, perhaps we have succeeded in that aim. Or maybe nobody can be bothered to read more than two or three sentences these days? Or maybe nobody cares about goodness and decency and honesty and openness and sticking to rules which have actually been passed? Am I descending into innuendo now?
Ah, well, c'est la vie.
11/10/02 at 20:57:17
11/11/02 at 04:47:38
Can I ask: Apart from the wanting everything to be carried out correctly, is there any other reason for going through with all this? Surely it would be better to let everything lie, carry on with an acting committee and re-elect them next year. It's not as if you've failed to qualify for the Nationals, or the fact that the band's ability to do extremely well without the presence of a conductor has been affected (we always thought the kids could do just as well on their own). OK you were incorrectly disqualified at Stone, but you and the kids know that you did really well or do you just want the silverware to prove it?
Surely the increased length in the day and the fact that bands are possibly travelling earlier to attend the meeting means that several of the bands playing on Saturday may be incurring increased travelling costs. I don't suppose that either you or TYMBA would reimburse these extra costs?
As for the disputable 8-bar conducting rule. I don't know exactly the reasons for it being brought in, but I wouldn't have thought that it was to 'curb the success of the Rhyl band' - you're not the only band that uses hand signals or conducting. My own personal belief is that conducting is for sitty-down bands (eg orchestras, swing bands, quartets etc) or for BYBA/DCUK type bands who use field commanders. TYMBA stands for 'Traditional Youth Marching Band Association', surely that means that we should all be marching and not standing still, therefore conducting a band whilst they are marching is a little difficult. In my opinion and from my own arguments, I would conclude that the rule was proposed to retain the style of the organisation.
At the end of the day I hope that the kids do as well as they are able to do and whether they win or lose they enjoy the whole experience of competing against and watching other bands of similar standards. If the kids can honestly say at the end of the day that they've had a good day, even though they come away empty handed, then you know it's all worth it.
11/11/02 at 06:54:06
Rhyl Scout and Guide Band
11/11/02 at 08:54:17
11/11/02 at 09:21:49
Thank you for selecting discussion mode - few people seem to be prepared to discuss anything about this subject. If you saw the TYMBA website just after the disqualification (difficult to view now due to some technical/commercial problem with the site) you will know that there were an awful lot of snap, one-line comments from a range of people, generally way off the mark. Eventually I posted a lengthy reply with some facts and reasoning, and everything went quiet. Whether that was coincidence or not I have no idea, but obviously no one was prepared (or able?) to challenge any of my logic. I think they just wanted a whinge and I'm sorry if I spoiled it for them.
As for motive: obviously the trigger was the disqualification. We regarded that as wholly outrageous, but it has become rather more than that, for the following reasons (if you are, in fact, a committee member, then you will already know all this; if you are an ordinary band member, then I hope you have the patience and interest to read on).
We had received notice of the January rules meeting, and had arranged to go, but the date was changed at the last minute and we couldn't attend. We checked with the Contest Panel Chairman what we would be missing and were told that it was 'just a normal yearly look at the rules, nothing to worry about. And in any case, any changes would have to be passed by the AGM and wouldn't come into force until the following season'. So we didn't worry too much.
Then came the notice for the AGM with the proposed rule changes attached. Most of the changes were single words and made no sense to us since we didn't have a copy of the existing rules (we had been asking for a copy of the rules for several years, on and off - they were perpetually 'waiting to be printed'). So we didn't even know what a category A rule meant, for example. Rule 3 (about also being members of 'represented' organisations) struck us as being no business of TYMBA. Rule 6 (about 'conducting') struck us as very perculiarly worded, but we didn't actually know what the previous version of the rule said. We didn't worry too much at that stage because we believed that the rules wouldn't come into effect until the following season. We didn't go to the AGM because it was 250 miles away.
When we got the minutes of the AGM, things hotted up a little. We discovered that the rules came into effect for the current season. That was bad news, because our routine was already complete with absolutely no time to make significant changes. We tackled the Contest Panel Chairman about this, who said 'that's what the AGM had felt should happen' - our subsequent understanding, which may not be correct, is that the rules were presented to the AGM for immediate effect and there was little, if any, discussion about any of them. Rather annoying, and distinct feelings of being misled.
Having received the minutes of the AGM with the rules attached, we scrutinised them more closely to see what impact they had for the first contest (Stone). We took steps to comply with Rule 3 by obtainging a covering letter from the Scout Association - we even contemplated changing the name of the band. We read Rule 6 closely. The first part about keeping hold of the mace (with one hand) while conducting was OK. The middle bit was about 'hand signals' (which we think are different from conducting anyway), and seemed a bit stupid since it said they may be used at the beginning and end of a piece, but didn't say they couldn't also be used elsewhere. The last part talked about the maximum length of any conducting being eight bars. This could only mean that there may be many sessions of conducting, but none shall exceed eight bars in length (compare the maximum length of any clapping shall be ten seconds). So, no problem there - quirky, but quite clear.
We performed in the contest, and I was very careful never to conduct for more than eight bars at a time, but there were, of course, several sessions of conducting. Under such circumstances, we were astounded, outraged and totally baffled at being disqualified. Two bands had apparently complained that we had breached rule 6, and that was it. We decided not to shoot straight of home in a huff, but to go on for the final muster. I asked the Stone Organiser to announce the disqualification over the PA system so that everyone knew what was going on, but he absolutely refused (no idea why). The GME judge came over to me after presenting the trophy elsewhere and presented me with his plastic memento, saying we deserved the trophy. Very comforting. He has subsequently resigned over the issue as being the last straw in a series of clashes with the committee.
So, we had made every effort to comply with the rules and had been disqualified for reasons which were not clear. We decided to appeal. There followed a series of events aimed solely at dismissing our appeal, come what may, without providing one jot of justification. This made us progressively more determined to get to the truth.
We were instructed by the Contest Panel Chairman to appeal to the Stone Contest Organiser, even though the problem was obviously associated with the actual meaning of a rule (and therefore the province of TYMBA not an individual contest), rather than whether or not we had broken a clear rule (eg was the drum major over 95?). We still had not received a definitive statement of which aspect of rule 6 was breached, so we compiled a four page appeal letter going through all the logical arguments about what the wording of the rule said, and covering all the aspects. The committee were now forced to give us a copy of the rules in order to do this - a photocopy of an old version plus the minutes of the last three AGMs for the rule updates. Why could they not have done that ages ago? Having read the rulebook and Constitution, the possibility of the AGM being inquorate arose as a possible backstop. All our correspondence was copied to the TYMBA committee (you can read it all on our website, as I said last time).
Most of the relpies from Stone were along the lines of 'we've discussed it again, and you're still disqualified'. No explanations, no counter arguments to our statements. I would have much preferred to argue the case based on the wording of the rule. But they got fed up and referred us back to TYMBA, so we simultaneously pushed the AGM issue as another way forward. Then we received a letter from the secretary admitting that the AGM was inquorate, and, worse, that they knew about it at the time, and worse still, that they had decided to go ahead with the meeting anyway and treat it as valid!
If they had said, 'Goodness, we didn't realise it was inquorate; obviously the rule wasn't passed, so you can't be disqualified' all would have ended. We would have been a bit miffed that they hadn't said so a couple of months earlier when we first pointed out the possibility, but we would have let it go. But, no. They really wanted a fight.
We were absolutely astounded that they admitted to knowing that the meeting was invalid, and then tried to insist that they had some divine right to pronounce it all OK. Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of meeting procedures knows that you just can't do these things. And if you don't know this, you have no business standing for office. If you do stand for office, you accept the trust of the membership, and in return, you agree to play by the rules (in this case, the Constitution). It is the height of hypocrisy to accuse a band of breaking a rule which hasn't even been passed whilst breaking the rules of the Constitution yourself.
Faced with this situation, should we have said: 'Oh well, they do a job no one else wants to do, we'll let it go. I'm sure there is a good reason why they want us to be disqualified. After all, it's only a couple of hundred quid in coach fare down the drain and the kids will get over it. It will teach them about life, won't it'? I think not.
Given all the background, plus the distinct feeling that we were being deliberately victimised, we had no choice but to proceed. The committee had several opportunities to admit the truth, and they could have still escaped with very little embarrassment. But they absolutely refused. I was prepared to believe that all of the running was being made by a few individuals and that the rest of the committee were either unaware of the situation, or being dragged passively along. But we had a face to face meeting with the committee where it was abundantly clear that they all felt the same way and were determined that the disqualification should stick. I still cannot credit that the whole committee has been prepared, for six months, continually to insist that they can flout the Constitution and exercise power which is not granted to them.
Only when they were made to realise that, since they were not actually re-elected, they could be personally liable for spending the Association's funds, have they climbed down and admitted that the AGM business was not valid. So they very reluctantly agreed to our suggestion to hold a Special General Meeting to get themselves re-elected. (It is important from a legal point of view that the committee be properly elected, at least for the administration of the funds (paying for the Nationals, etc). Everything else can wait until the next AGM now, although there is the practical point that all the fuss will have died down by then and nobody will be very keen to stir it up again - anything for a quiet life.)
But still not content, the committee has added an additional agenda item to pass all that AGM business and backdate it to March. Again, anyone at all knowledgeable in procedure knows that backdating is not done for good reason - it amounts to changing history. The rule was not in force at the Stone Contest when we competed - that is a historical fact. A dozen people in a room in Cannock proclaiming that they want it to be different will not make it so. They have declared that the first half of the Nationals will be run under the old rules, but now we have to wait until the lunchtime meeting to know which rules will apply to the second half. If the business is approved and backdated, they will say that the new rules apply as from March (so that we can still be disqualified). So the first half of the Nationals will actually then have been run under the new rules. It a first half band competed with three people over 25 plus a drum major over 25, they would then have to be disqualified because of the rule change. It's farcical.
Without the backdating, the Cannock meeting is quite at liberty to pass the business previously presented at the AGM. However, it would be unwise to do so without discussing the items at length because there is much that is wrong with them. I have produced (for the bandmasters - it will soon appear on the website correspondence page) a list of a couple of dozen questions which should be asked (and answered satisfactorily) before anyone votes. They might still vote in favour of everything, but the discussion should take place first - there will simply not be enough time at Cannock, and it could all wait until the next AGM. People should also realise that if there had been more people at the last AGM, more discussion might well have occurred (it would if I had been there!) and the voting might have been totally different.
Sorry to keep going on at length, but if you have managed to stay with me, you must surely realise that we have had little choice in this matter. It started out as purely a defence against disqualification, but, due entirely to the extraordinary attitude of the committee, it has slowly evolved into a matter of principle about the sanctity of the Constitution. Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of TYMBA members aren't very interested in defending matters of principle, and just want a quiet life. Or maybe they just think we have made it all up for some spiteful reason. They only have to read their own Constitution to discover the truth. As I said last time, I believe adults should set an example to the youngsters and stand up for principles, and oppose abuse of privilege. Sometimes the cost is high - we shall not be renewing our membership of TYMBA as long as this way of running the organisation is tolerated by the membership. Only time will tell if it is 'worth it'. Rhyl is really not the 'bad guy' here.
Regarding the other matters you mention. Compensation: For this meeting, I think bands should make the effort to attend - it is their Association. The only reason it is happening is that they didn't make the effort to attend the AGM! In any case, they should all be there before lunchtime supporting the Nationals, whether playing or watching - we deliberately didn't suggest having it in the morning. As a matter of interest, I suggested to the committee that I, personally, would have absolutely no objection to TYMBA funds being used to compensate those people who made the effort to travel to an AGM, only to find that it was inquorate - it was not well received - mind you, they were not in a good mood! I have made suggestions that the membership should consider proxy voting, or postal voting, or even email voting in an effort to get more participation. These would require a change to the Constitution - that must be fully discussed and voted in properly. If these things are done in a lax fashion, it make life easy, but the organisation rapidly degenerates into anarchy.
Conducting: I won't be drawn too much on the 'just for Rhyl' idea, but several people outside our band have referred to these as 'Rhyl Rules'. I don't think many bands actually go in for conducting much. Neither do we, for that matter. I don't believe in just standing there beating strict tempos, and obviously you can't do it when the band is on the march.
However, I believe that it is important to make the presentation entertaining for the audience. There are many people who like nothing better than to sit and listen to fifteen minute batches of military march music all afternoon. But that is not everyone's cup of tea. So I believe in varying the content of the programme. Some marches, some waltzes, some swing, some jazz, some slow melodies, some variations of tempo, something familiar, something new, something unexpected. The same applies to the display. It should fit the music. Sometimes it should move, sometimes it should be static, sometimes only part of the band should move, all to add variety. I believe that when the tempo is changing, whether suddenly or progressively, a conductor can keep the band together, and therefore produce a better sound (we have proved we can also do it without). Sometimes this can be done with the bass drum. Sometimes, for musical reasons, having the bass drum playing detracts from the musical effect. Similarly, a conductor can significantly enhance the band's performance of dynamics. What's more, there is a marked aspect for the drum major's 'control of the band' - there is not much he can do to 'control' a pre-arranged display, but he can significantly influence the musical performance by conducting!
I don't think the military parade style where the drum major brings the band to the halt in a block and then the conductor walks out and takes over is appropriate, but I wouldn't object to a band doing that. When I have been drum major, I do both jobs. I march around in a 'choreographed' fashion with the band (I think all bands pre-plan their display - the DM doesn't make it up as he goes along!), and arrange to be in a suitable position to be seen when a difficult tempo change or dynamic is required. Usually only a few bars here and there.
Rhyl are frequently accused of being too static. It is simply that we frequently halt for a short period to create a contrast with the moving bits. I find it irritating when the motion is incessant. Most of our presentations are medleys of tunes. Vary rarely does one tune or tempo last for more than 30 seconds or so. During our appeal correspondence, it was suggested that I conducted for 75% of the time - a truly ludricrous suggestion.
I understand the viewpoint about 'traditional' fare - that is why TYMBA was originally formed. Unfortunately, it means different things to different people. It is my impression that, these days, very few military bands performing for entertainment (eg tattoos), as opposed to ceremonial, stick to traditional march tunes and counter-march displays. They include 'pop' music, ballads, etc. and they put in movements which aren't in the drill manual, and they sometimes even do things deliberately to get a laugh, ie they entertain today's audience. But I wouldn't go so far as to have girls in leotards twirling flags, and I would leave out fixed percussion, etc.
By and large, I would prefer to leave a judgement of what is well done and appropriate entirely to the judges, provided there are clear guidelines as to what is required. TYMBA tries to prescribe lots of unmeasurable things with rules and penalties, and unfortunately rarely gets the wording satisfactory. A rule needs to have a clear and useful purpose, and be very carefully worded. It is essential that whatever it controls can be easily measured. I think there should be a mixture of rules and guidelines. For example, a rule which limits the age of participants is very easily measured and there is little room for dispute. There is a clear purpose in a youth organisation. A rule which measures conducting in bars of music is hopeless unless the time signature is declared, and, even then, it requires sound musical knowledge to count (the judges have better things to do) - better to measure in seconds and use a time keeper. A rule which limits backward steps to eight, is easily measurable in principle, but you need a dedicated person to do the counting, and not all the band may be moving in the same direction at once. Not really very practical; and what's the point? If one doesn't really like backward movements (I don't think the drill manual sets a limit), it's better to set a guideline of eight paces, but leave it up to a judge to say whether what was done was 'excessive' (in some circumstances, 12 paces might not be regarded as excessive).
Winning: It is a laudable aim to say that competing is all that really matters. However, we know from experience that it is a much nicer feeling to win prizes than to see them going to another band, even if you know they are better! Nevertheless, as long as you have done your best and enjoyed the day, all is not wasted. However, as we also know, to have done better than the other bands and to have the glory unfairly removed is not a very nice experience at all.
I hope that answers your questions and that we don't run out of webspace. I only wish you, and especially the hundreds of others out there who have said nothing, had started the dialogue sooner. If other bands had spoken up in support of the Constitution, most of this stupidity could have been avoided. The committee always claimed to be acting the way the members wanted them to act - how they could possibly know what a majority of the members (30 plus) wanted is not clear. We believe only a small number of bands (probably associated with the committee members) have actually said anything to them. However, if a majority of the bands who attend the meeting at the Nationals vote to re-elect the committee, and especially vote for the backdated resolution, there will be no holding them (even if it is only a dozen bands in total, thinking that they should blindly support the committee). We will be well out of it.
11/12/02 at 00:03:50
I write as a non-playing parent of a playing member of another band. (One of those behind the scenes people who does the carrying, transporting and polishing etc.). I was sorry to learn at the TYMBA Nationals that your band will no longer be participating in future TYMBA contests.
Rhyl was one of the few different bands, with a unique and distinctive repertoire, always very well performed and most enjoyable. You deserved your successes at the competitions earlier this year.
I will miss seeing you next year at the TYMBA contests, although no doubt I will still see and hear your members play elsewhere.
Good luck for the future,
11/17/02 at 08:04:05
Thank you for your kind comments. It is always nice to hear that someone unconnected with us likes what we do. We have always tried our best to do exactly what you describe. Since you do not name your band (probably very wisely - supporting Rhyl can be bad for your health!), we will just have to hope that they, too, feel the same way.
Unfortunately, its seems our 'unique and distinctive' repertoire was not to everyone's taste, and resulted in the fiasco we have witnessed over the last six months. Having been disqualified for allegedly breaking a rule which was never passed, we have seen the committee weave the most ludricrous cover-up imaginable, breaking the rules of the Constitution with abandon and deliberately deceiving the membership. But what is most incomprehensible is that a significant portion of the membership (19 bands) have just passed a resolution supporting this behaviour, having passed a resolution moments earlier deploring it! It makes little difference whether they did this out of misplaced loyalty for the committee, dislike of us, or disinclination to read and digest the facts. I'm afraid there is now little prospect of the organisation putting its house in order, and we really had little choice but to leave. I am sorry for those bands who now feel unable to speak out for fear of also denying their kids the fun of competing.
I hope you do manage to come across us playing elsewhere and that we continue to please. Thank you again for making the effort to express your sentiments.
Musical Director RSGB
11/17/02 at 23:48:46
In several of your recent postings on this forum site you have suggested that those who have supported Tymba in recent times have some kind of "misplaced loyaty" to the committee. As someone who has benefited from most things TYMBA has to offer, I have to disagree. The committee members of TYMBA (of this year and all years previous) have taken banding forward and highlighted its existance to the rest of the world.
Thorough competing in TYMBA contests a lot of musicians (both children and adults)have had the opportunity to develop their talents in one way or another, whether that is becoming a winning soloist or teaching a youngster enough music to take part in their first competion. While each individual band put in vast amounts of effort each week to teach, coach, and find different ways of getting the best out of children with varying degrees of talent and ability, it has been through TYMBA that we have come together to form massed bands, to go on training camps and to compete against each other.
There are other oganisations out there which stage competitions but a lot of bands have found TYMBA to be the one that suits them and one of the few organisations that promotes their style of banding. After all the opportunities the Association has offered Bands since it was formed it would be difficult to see where the future of "Traditional Youth Banding" would lie if the Association was to "disappear". I believe this is why TYMBA still recieves support from its members and why the Officers of TYMBA have committed their free time , to ensure there is a future for Tradtional Youth Marching Bands. Loyalty to this cause can not be misplaced, it will ensure that the Association continues for the reasons it was conceived in the first place, which despite the problems encountered and highlighted by yourselves this year, it is still achieving for the vast majority of its members.
While Rhyl Scout and Guide Band have been unable to reconcile their differences with the Association, there are people/ bands and dare I say committee members, who will use their vast experience of past years and more recent months to move the Association forward in a positive and productive way.
11/18/02 at 16:30:58
Thank you for your restrained comments - so many people do not seem to be able to approach this matter without hurling abuse. Thank you also for including your name, although I am not sure which Karen you are or from which band. No matter. Please excuse another long answer - it is the only way I can justify our actions.
We agree that the aims and activities of TYMBA contribute significantly towards the development of the musical and other abilities of the various member bands, and I believe that even our most vocal critics would not be so churlish as to deny that Rhyl has demonstrated and fostered those same aims, and by example and competition, has encoursged other bands to improve. I have also personally instructed on a TYMBA musical weekend.
If you read through the correspondence, especially that addressed to all bands, you will see that several times we have repeated that we fully support the aims of TYMBA as an association, and that we have recognised the work done by the committee and described it as a frequently thankless and unrecognised task. In our correspondence about the Special General Meeting, we advocated the re-election of the committee, and we voted for this at the recent meeting. It is evident that, for the most part, they work hard and do a good job which few others are prepared to tackle.
All the more strange, then, that they have chosen such an incomprehensible stand over this issue.
We have had verbal indications from several sources that the 'conducting' and some other rules were only introduced because of a desire by some bands to 'level the playing field'. We have no way of knowing if this is true, and we have not made this an issue in our appeal. However, as the appeal has progressed, this has appeared to be a more and more likely prospect. And if it really is true, then it has failed in so far as we have demonstrated that we can still win contests completely without the use of conducting.
We were told by the committee at the meeting which we attended in Warwick, that 'the majority of bands wished to see us disqualified', and the committee has insisted all along that it believed it was acting according to the wishes of the membership. However, whilst it is obvious that the committee has close contact with a few bands, we were never shown any evidence that it had confirmed this viewpoint with the membership at large.
For rules to be beneficial in regulating a competition, it is essential that they are crystal clear in their wording, that they have an obvious and worthwhile purpose, that they are verifiable (ie whatever they control is an easily ascertained quantity), and that they don't conflict with other rules or guidelines. Although this is a personal opinion, I don't think it should prove very contentious.
For example, the rule (No 4) about the age of members in the band (prior to 2002 AGM) satisfied these criteria well. The wording is clear and precise, the aim is evidently consistent with a youth organisation, I can't see any conflicts, and it is easily verifiable. However, the 2002 change to delete the word 'playing', spoilt this to some extent because it is not easy to see the purpose of the new inclusion of the Drum Major in the over 25 total, and it conflicts somewhat with rule 5 which already says that DMs over 25 aren't elegible for DM or Turnout awards. Also, it is generally true that the older DMs (especially me!) are far less skilled in mace bearing than the younger ones. If the aim was to make the band composition younger, it would have been better just to reduce the number of over 25s to two. Incidentally, my personal opinion is that the ratio of adults to youth should be expressed as a percentage of the band size, not as a fixed value, and that the presence of a moderate number of older (and presumably better) players actually improves the standard of playing of the younger members. However, the only point I am trying to making here is to illustrate the characteristics of a good rule.
The 'conducting' rule, however, does not possess any of my essential characteristics. It is pretty undeniable that the wording of the rule is extremely poor. Even if you allow that hand signals are the same thing as conducting (which, of course, we also contest), the rule only gives an illustration of where the practice may (not 'must' and certainly not 'can only') be used - it does NOT prohibit it from being used elsewhere. And then there is the hopeless phrase 'piece of music'. What is the purpose of the rule? Why would one want to restrict conducting to the first and last eight bars of the whole piece - is it really so much of an advantage? Why not prohibit it altogether? We have demonstrated that we can do without, but at the expense of using the bass drum where it is totally inappropriate what is the point in that? One purpose of conducting is to encourage the band to play music better - is that inconsistent with the aims of the Association? I have previously mentioned the difficulties of measuring the effect using bars rather than seconds. And it conflicts with the DM score sheet since marks are awarded for control of the band.
Whether one agrees with all these points or not, it is surely evident that the wording of this rule is so poor that it should never have been passed in this form, whether at an AGM or an SGM, without at least a significant amount of discussion, which should hopefully have led to better wording. I have previously suggested wording which could so very easily have been adopted and which would have made the rule abundantly clear (assuming that it was supposed to mean what the committee say it was supposed to mean). Here is another MAJOR issue. Given that there is a difference of opinion on what the rule is supposed to mean, all other precedents for rules and regulations rely entirely on the wording, not someone's statement about what was intended. Our contention has never been that the rule was ambiguous - we believe that it is prefectly clear (but pointless) and does not prohibit conducting.
Given all of the above, there is no justification for the disqualification in the first place. And once it came to light that the AGM had never passed the rule because it was inquorate, the matter should have been laid to rest immediately. It may be extremely galling for some people that the rule wording doesn't actually prohibit conducting in the way that they would like, and they may be equally disappointed that the inquorate AGM seems like 'getting off on a technicality', but those are both features of the traditional British justice system. If people cannot be bothered to word rules carefully (and there was a meeting specifically to do this) and cannot be bothered to attend the AGM, and, when there, cannot be bothered to discuss the issues, then they should accept this and not try to bend the law after the event.
The fact is that we modified our performance to comply with the rule wording (not knowing the AGM was inquorate) - what more could we be expected to do? Under all these circumstances, should we not even have lodged an appeal?
However, the committee refused even to acknowledge our arguments about the meaning of the wording, let alone produce counter arguments. They deliberately chose to suppress the information about the AGM, then they insisted that they had the right to declare the AGM business valid. When they eventually had to admit that this was against the Constitution, they agreed to an SGM in order to get themselves properly elected, but still added the extra item about approving the AGM business and backdating it (as though that could actually change the historical fact that the rule was not in force when we competed). Can you explain why any of this was a reasonable course of action from a committee which handles the rest of the organisation so well? Does it not seem even a little bit like a vendetta? Even if you believe that we deliberately set out to break the rule, is it right for the committee itself to break the rules of the Constitution in pursuing its case?
There has been talk of it being 'unfair' to those bands who did attend the AGM not to allow the business to stand. It is certainly unfortunate for those attendees, and I would be happy to see them recompensed from TYMBA funds, but it is still wrong to proceed with the meeting. There is even a note in the Constitution regarding the quorum for committee meetings (14A) which mentions the prospect of wasted journeys and personal expense. The Constitution is there to protect and guide everyone, especially the committee. All bands (including Rhyl) should have made a better effort to attend - it would have helped if the meeting had been in a more central location.
It seems to us that the committee, and at least 19 member bands, feel that it is perfectly in order to ignore the Constitution when it suits them. They do not seem equally disposed to tolerate even alleged breaking of contest rules, except, of course, when it suits them. At the SGM, they passed a resolution reaffirming that everyone must obey the Constitution, and then promptly passed another resolution supporting the committee's actions in breaking the Constitution. There was no need for the backdating resolution other than to achieve this objective. And to pass a rule known to be badly worded was indefensible.
You mention loyalty to the cause of TYMBA. That is not in dispute. Neither even is loyalty to the committee for their hard work in organising things. However, that is no reason to condone their blatant failure to follow the rules of the Association, when they, above all, should be setting a good example. It is not good enough to claim that they deliberately broke they rules because they thought the members would approve. There is no reason why the membership could not have made it plain to the committee that they are expected to stick to the rules, whilst also saying that their other work is still appreciated. The voting at the SGM has sent them a very mixed message, and, in our opinion, has set the Association back considerably, rather than advancing it. But with the committee and 19 bands saying that the Constitution doesn't count for anything, we cannot continue our support. The disqualification is really quite incidental.
I don't expect to be able to influence your opinions further if you have already read most of the correspondence on the subject and still do not agree with us. If you have not, I urge you to make the effort to do so on our correspondence page - too many people seem to have expressed opinions without knowing the facts. The way that we have been treated over this issue is totally beyond our understanding, and is completely at odds with the aims and aspirations of an organisation like TYMBA.
11/19/02 at 00:59:27
12/03/02 at 11:21:43
12/09/02 at 18:12:23
Thank you for your comment - I have only just seen it. I was also going to email this reply to you in case you don't return to our web site, but your email address appears invalid. Please feel free to contact me by email, however, if you don't want your comments made public. Are you willing to say what band you are associated with, if any?
I understand your point of view that conducting is not appropriate for a Marching Band Association, and I know that some bands agree with you. Equally some others do not, but, unfortunately, we never hear from the vast majority of the 60 member bands. I'm afraid I disagree with you for the following reasons:-
I believe that marching bands (including military ones) have moved on from the days of simply playing strict tempo marches separated by 'drum tunes' and wheeling and counter-marching in order to entertain the public (I am not talking about ceremonial duties). There is now a much wider repertoire of music, and the 'manoeuvres' are harder to find in a drill manual. One of the ways to make music more interesting to listen to (and to perform) is to provide more variety, not only in the choice of tunes, but in their tempos and dynamics. The same goes for the display - standing still for a short time makes the following movement all the more interesting.
Conducting is obviously helpful in keeping a band together when tempos are changing and also in encouraging dynamic playing. I have had comments from more than one judge to the effect that some other bands could benefit from conducting in these respects. There is also a marking category for the Drum Major with regard to 'Control of the Band' - conducting is one of the few ways in which the DM can control the band in competition since the marching routine is fully choreographed beforehand and it is scarcely practical for the DM to influence the straightness of lines on the move, etc.
I maintain that conducting helps a band to play better, especially in those sections where it really matters when at the halt. It allows more challenging music to be attempted and improves the band's musical abilities. Is it not surely an aim of all bands, and in their best long-term interests, to promote better musicianship? Discouraging conducting is tantamount to discouraging better playing.
As to whether conducting gives such an unfair advantage to a band in competition as to warrant the description of an un-level playing field, I very much doubt. Most bands, including ours, actually spend only a small proportion of the total time at the halt when conducting can really be used. It is surely significant that we continued winning competitions even when we totally abandoned conducting? All the other bands were previously free to conduct if they so wished.
However, this is NOT what the dispute was about.
We have always accepted the right of the Association to change any of its rules, as provided for in the Constitution. If any band doesn't like a rule, it must either comply whilst possibly trying to get the rule changed democratically, or not compete. We would certainly not have been happy with a rule which effectively banned conducting, but we would have complied with it. We would not have left over that issue. It was unfair, however, to introduce a rule which would mean choosing a different selection of music at such an impossibly late stage in the season.
The first problem was that the rule was extremely badly worded (if it was supposed to mean what you imply). If it had said: "There shall be no conducting except during the first and last eight bars of the whole of the timed presentation", then that is what we would have complied with. It could very easily have done so, but it didn't. It actually said: "Hand signals may be used at the commencement of a piece of music and at the end of a piece of music in order the start and finish the piece. The maximum length of any conducting will be 8 bars".
Even if you accept that hand signals and conducting are one and the same thing (which we don't - why not use the same word?), the rule only says that the technique MAY be used at the beginning and end of a piece of music. It does not say that it can't be used anywhere else. And it limits the length of any session of conducting to eight bars. It does not limit the number of sessions. We maintain that we complied fully in good faith with this wording.
All of the rhetoric from other people following the disqualification has consistently 'interpreted' the rule as though it were phrased as I have suggested above. If only it had been! In any other walk of life, a rule is taken to mean only what the words actually say, and the wording of this rule is very clear - it does NOT prohibit hand signals elsewhere than at the beginning and end of the piece. I have presented this argument many times, and NOBODY has ever given any logically argued case as to why is should mean anything different. It is the responsibility of those who phrase rules to make sure that the wording is clear and concise, and says what was intended, since those who have to follow rules can only base their understanding on that wording.
So, yes, we are upset about being disqualified because we don't believe we broke the rule. It would have been very easy for those in charge to admit that the wording was not what was intended, but they did not. They continued to bluster and delay without providing any justification for their decision.
But that is all small beer compared to what followed.
During the course of our appeal, we discovered that the AGM, which supposedly passed the rule, was not quorate. This means that the rule was not even in force when we were disqualified. If that were not enough, the committee has admitted that it was aware of this at the time, but said nothing. Furthermore, they have admitted that they carried on with the AGM, knowing it was inquorate, without even telling those at the meeting, let alone the membership at large, meaning that they were not actually re-elected and had no mandate to act for the Association. But they further insisted that they did have the right to do this - which, of course, they didn't, according to the Constitution. They should have immediately organised a second AGM, which they have consistently refused to do.
We eventually forced them to hold a Special General Meeting, at least to get themselves properly elected. However, at that meeting, a third of the total membership (19 bands) first voted to say that no one has the right to disobey the Constitution, and then promptly approved the committee's unconstitutional actions by voting in the AGM business (which was perfectly ligitimate) and backdating it to March (which was not). All of this, apparently, just to save face. How ridiculous for the committee to accuse us of breaking a rule which was not in force whilst breaking the pretty basic rules of the Constitution themselves!
We can't continue to be members of an organisation which behaves this way and shows no remorse.
When you say you are sorry we feel the way we do, you imply that you don't think the circumstances support or warrant our viewpoint. I would be extremely interested to hear your reasoned opinion (it would be the first to be expressed!) as to why you think it is not wholly justified. I would also be happy to discuss further the merits, or otherwise, of conducting, but that is a minor side issue.
Finally, thank you for your good wishes. We may give BYBA a try, in which case I hope your flattering comments about our music prove to be true. Unfortunately, although BYBA allows conducting, they don't allow Drum Majors over 25, so that lets me out!
Musical Director, RSGB
12/18/02 at 23:41:35