Date: 18 August 2010, 17:52
Hi, everyone, The lady who will be making the waistcoats for the band will be attending Victory Hall from 7pm on Tuesday 31 August to take your measurements. Would those who can be there by 7pm please do so, as the more that can be done before the rehearsal starts, the less disruption there will be to the rehearsal.
From: Chris Mulryne
Sent: 18 August 2010, 6:31 PM
What waistcoats? When did the band decide that was going to be our uniform? I must have missed that rehearsal as that can't be a committee decision.
Date: 18 August 2010, 19:29
This was raised at the AGM in March this year.
From: Chris Mulryne
Date: 18 August 2010, 20:21
Sorry Geoff I'm sure it's not down to you, but:
As I remember it was only talked about with no agreement as to what we would go for. Last time anyone spoke to me it was being suggested that we went for mess jackets. What colour are these waistcoats going to be? Why haven't the band been shown pictures of the design? It's not right that we work all summer to raise funds only to see them spent without a word. Whoever arranged for this woman to come should cancel and talk to the whole band first. At ***** we're coming up with the designs/colours, etc. for a polo shirt at committee level and then offering a choice for the band to decide on. Buying a new instrument is one thing, deciding what the band wears for the next xx years that's a band decision, afterall we're not sponsered and have to live with their choice.
To: Chris Mulryne
Sent: 18 August 2010, 22:36
The question of waistcoats has been a matter of discussion for at least two years. It was brought up again at the last AGM, and as I recall, agreed in principle. It has been discussed by the committee on several further occasions, and costings obtained for a variety of jackets and waistcoats. It was not considered viable to buy jackets of any description, they were just too expensive. After a not inconsiderable amount of effort, it has been possible locally to source stage waistcoats, individually fitted, at a fraction of the price that firms like *****'s charge.
The design is a perfectly standard 4-button waistcoat, the front in gold to match the tie, and the back and lining in black. The purpose is to brighten our appearance, which has been described by members and public alike as sombre and funereal.
The situation at ***** is somewhat different, if they are deciding on a choice of colours and designs. The only colour we could reasonable have was gold and black, as these are the band colours. The design of a waistcoat is hardly a matter of controversy.
How ***** conduct their business is entirely their affair. Norfolk Wherry Brass is managed by the elected executive committee, in accordance with the constitution and rules.
I have tried to answer your queries on a personal basis, but I cannot enter into any correspondence on behalf of the committee. If you wish to make any further comment, may I suggest you adopt the procedures laid down in the constitution and rules.
From: Jim Parr
Sent: 19 August 2010, 7:55 AM
This shows a very poor sense of priorities. As a band, we have come under sustained, consistent criticism at competitions and, having been relegated, we have shot straight down to the bottom of third section. All the evidence is that this criticism is justified. ALL our resources - personal, musical, financial, absolutely everything - should be devoted to improving this lamentable state of affairs. The money which is being spent on uniforms would be far better spent on buying in guest trainers/conductors, or booking the Victory Hall for some extra rehearsals. Our priority should be music, not dressing up like a bunch of tin soldiers. I'm sorry to be blunt, but I feel strongly about this. And I agree with Chris and Keith, although I recall some vague mention of this, I am surprised to learn of this decision. Had I known of it, I would have expressed the same reservations I have just set out.
I like the sense of priorities implicit in our current uniform - "listen to us, don't look at us". The uniform we have is smart, simple and gives a clear message that we have more important things to do than dressing up. Don't we?
Sent: 19 August 2010, 10:55 AM
I would like to point out that the members’ mailing ring was set up as a means of quickly adding all subscribed members with an email address into the address bar, instead of having to select each address individually. It is not, and was never intended to be, a discussion forum. There are a number of members (including committee members) who are either not subscribed to the list or do not have access to email, so to continue a discussion by this method is inappropriate.
I would also like to remind members that there is a procedure for dealing with complaints, and public criticism on the email ring does not form part of that procedure.
Rule 3h - Complaints or suggestions of any nature relating to the management of the Band shall be addressed in writing to the Honorary Secretary. Under no circumstances shall a servant of the Band be personally reprimanded by a member.
From: Jim Parr
Sent: 19 August 2010, 11:09 AM
From: Nicola Butler
Sent: 19 August 2010, 8:44
I must also say that this "waistcoat" situation is the first I have heard of it, and replicate the views of Keith Chris and Jim! I have been a founder member of the band and have commited to putting NWB first, I am upset and slightly disappointed that this has not put to the band "players" in anyway - other than MENTIONED at an AGM.I think this should be a discussion at band and include everyones views and opinions. Not happy the way this has been done and agree that the Lady coming on the 31st should be cancelled until we, as a band, come to a conclusion.
Nicola and Sandra
Sent: 19 August 2010 10:35 AM
To: Beris Bowen
Subject: RE: [email@example.com] NWB Uniform Waistcoats
Hi, Jan and Beris, I am absolutely fuming. I have drafted a message (below) that I will not send elsewhere (you should have seen the unedited version!), but I’m just letting you know my reactions to what is being circulated.
Please do not forward this to anyone.
Kind regards, Geoff
If I may make comment, as an individual band member, not as a committee member:
1. If anyone considers that the management committee is not conducting itself properly or effectively, it is open to members to call an EGM and propose a vote of ‘no confidence’. To sit back, not involve oneself in the running of the band, then openly criticise those who do, is, in my opinion, hardly helpful.
2. In terms of the band’s playing ability, the management committee is just that, a committee to manage the affairs of the band. Musically, the responsibility is that of the Musical Director, although, of course, the committee do try to recruit new players, of appropriate standard, as I would hope all members do. In case anyone should read this as a criticism of Kevin let me make it quite clear. The band struggled for some time with ‘guest’ conductors, after a disastrous performance at Stevenage (see 3 below). I didn’t notice a queue of potential MD’s outside our door. I am very pleased that Kevin accepted our invitation to become our MD and I have seen the morale and playing standard of the band improve under his direction.
3. No-one has suggested that there are insufficient funds available to purchase the waistcoats AND hire in guest trainers etc. As far as I am aware, no-one has recently made a proposal that anyone be hired in. For what it’s worth, some of you may recall that, in the year we hired ****** ******, we performed particularly badly at the subsequent contest, which led directly to the crisis the band experienced. Hiring the best band trainer in the country would be no good without the commitment of members to put in the practice in their own time.
4. We used to have two rehearsals a week. There was one well attended and one poorly attended session. When it was eventually recognised that members could/would not attend twice a week, we reverted to one a week. The most vociferous objectors to dropping to one rehearsal a week were those who hardly ever attended two! Membership has changed since those days, but I have not detected much appetite among the present members for additional rehearsals. I think it is pretty well accepted than no band can expect any competition success on one rehearsal per week. One of the problems we face is that some people are keen to contest and others aren’t, so we’re in something of a limbo. In this area, there are few enough players, so, if those who just want to compete leave, there would not be enough players to undertake concert work and vice versa, so we must all compromise.
5. Our priority is music. I have been working closely with Kevin to improve the quantity and quality of the music available for the band to play – bearing in mind that it is successful (financially) concerts that fund our forays into contesting.
6. ‘tin soldiers’? – we’re talking about adding a (matt) gold-coloured waistcoat, with a black back, (i.e. band colours) to our ensemble, not pseudo-military jackets with braid and peaked caps.
7. Election to the committee is open to all members. Business schedules may constrain some from standing for election, but committee business is not conducted behind closed doors. There is, and always has been, an open invitation to all members to attend committee meetings and contribute at any time. I have to say that no-one bothers. Minutes of meetings are freely available from the band secretary. There is no excuse for any member to say they don’t know what’s going on.
8. If anyone would like to step forward to share the load carried by the committee, please do. Of the numerous on-going and time-consuming tasks, nine are performed by just 4 people. Any assistance you can give would be most welcome. I have been reminded, to appease the gainsayers, that this is a hobby that we do because we want to and can’t be forced to. Yes, I’d almost forgotten that I have choices, too. If anyone want to wear any of the four hats I’ve got (apart from trying to play my music), I’d be only too pleased to relinquish them.
From: Beris Bowen
Sent: 19 August 2010 12:42 PM
Subject: Re: [firstname.lastname@example.org] NWB Uniform Waistcoats
[Webmaster's note: This message has been edited to remove references to people outside the band.]
You are quite, Geoff [sic]. We agree with everything you have written. Might be a good idea to forward this to Jim though as he seems to be the chief complainer! It would give him food for thought! A nd you would have the last word.
No amount of guess [sic] conductors would improve people's playing.............
Unless people practise their parts on a regular basis we will not improve drastically. Kevin has done a good job with the band and our music is appreciated by audiences at the concerts. We think we should give Stevenage a rest for 2011 and concentrate on what we do best, ie concerts......... We still believe we are a good section 3 band despite the disappointing result last year when we were capable of playing better. The committee works hard (some harder than others!) with the bands interest at heart. When we have the funds, as we do currently, what's the point of keeping money in the bank earning zero interest.
Thanks for all your correspondence and may be it will get sorted out eventually. It seems just a few members are bolshie. The others must be asleep or disinterested in what goes on, or both!! Thanks for all your hard work but it may not have been in vain when people come to their senses
.Jan and Beris
Sent: 20 August 2010, 11:54 AM
To: All members
To all NWB members
As the NWB committee, we are deeply disappointed in the attitude shown recently by some band members towards decisions made by the committee on behalf of the band. Let it be made quite clear - at no time do we work to the detriment of the band. Our aim is to improve the band in all areas, an aim which is carried out by some on the committee at quite considerable personal cost. With this in mind, please read the following points carefully and if still unsatisfied with the running of the committee, deal with us in accordance with the rules and constitution of the band.
1. If anyone considers that the management committee is not conducting itself properly or effectively, it is open to members to call an EGM and propose a vote of 'no confidence'. To not involve oneself in the running of the band and then openly criticise those who do is hardly helpful.
2. As a committee, our priority is music. Geoff has been working closely with Kevin to improve the quantity and quality of music available for the band to play - bearing in mind that it is successful concerts (financially) which fund our forays into contesting.
3. In terms of the band's playing ability, the management committee is just that - a committee to manage the affairs of the band. Musically, the responsibility is that of the Musical Director, although of course the committee do try to recruit new players of appropriate standard, as we would hope all members do. The band struggled for some time with 'guest' conductors after a disastrous performance at Stevenage. We didn't notice a queue of potential MDs outside our door. Let it be understood, the committee is very pleased that Kevin accepted our invitation to become our MD and we have seen the morale and playing standards of the band improve under his direction.
4. There is no question that there are insufficient funds available both to purchase waistcoats AND to hire guest conductors/trainers. In fact, financially the band is reasonably well off at the moment. There is no point in money sitting in a bank account doing nothing to improve the band. As far as we are aware, no band member has recently made the proposal that a guest conductor be hired in. For what it's worth, some of you may recall that in the year we hired ******, we performed particularly badly at the subsequent contest, which led directly to the crisis the band then experienced. Hiring the best trainer in the country would be to no avail without the commitment of members to put in the practice in their own time.
5. We used to have two rehearsals a week. One was well attended, the other was poorly attended. When it was eventually recognised that members could/would not attend twice a week, we reverted to one rehearsal a week. The most vociferous objectors to dropping to one rehearsal a week were those who hardly ever attended two! Membership has changed since then, but we have not detected much appetite among current band members for additional rehearsals. It is pretty well accepted that no band can expect competition success on one rehearsal a week. One of the problems we face is that some people are keen to contest and others are not, so we're left in something of a limbo. In this area there are few enough players, so if those who just wanted to compete left the band, there would not be enough players to undertake concert work and vice versa, so we must all compromise.
6. The matter of a new band uniform has been on committee meeting agendas for at least two years, and was discussed again at our AGM in March. It was left to the committee to pursue. At no time since has anyone bothered to enquire as to our progress in this, or indeed, shown any interest at all. After considerable time, effort and personal expense on the part of some committee members, the decision was made to add a matt gold waistcoat with a black back to our current ensemble, thus fitting in with the band colours. 'Mess' jackets were considered financially unviable and unnecessary when all we intended to do was give the band a 'face lift'. The addition of a gold waistcoat to our existing black would only serve to brighten the general appearance of the band, in turn, raising the self esteem of the players. It is a well known fact that when people feel good about themselves, they perform better. Those of you who are founder members of the band will remember the original band uniform as being ill fitting and cumbersome to perform in. The committee has discussed selling this original uniform in order to partly fund the new waistcoats. The impression is that no other band would be interested in purchasing it since most bands are now going down the more modern avenue of waistcoats. However, if anyone wishes to take on the task of trying to sell the old uniform, please let the committee know.
7. Election to the committee is open to all members and committee business is not conducted behind closed doors. There is, and always has been, an open invitation to all members to attend committee meetings and contribute at any time. Minutes of meetings are freely available from the band secretary. There is no excuse for any member to say they don't know what is going on. If anyone would like to step forward to share the load carried by the committee, please do. Of the numerous on-going and time-consuming tasks, nine are performed by just four people. Any assistance you could give would be most welcome.
From: Jim Parr
Sent: 20 August 2010, 6:10 PM
To: All members
This is an offensive and patronising response to entirely legitimate and proper concerns expressed firmly but properly by loyal and committed members of the band.. Neither Tracey nor I are prepared to continue our involvement with an organisation that thinks this is the way to treat its members and we both resign with immediate effect. I will return Tracey's tuba on Tuesday along with any uniform items we have.
We have both enjoyed our time with the band and are sorry that we have been left with no alternative but to leave under such circumstances.
From: Chris Mulryne
Sent: 20 August 2010, 8:45 PM
To: All members
Subject: Re: NWB
I would like to thank Sarah for being prepared to lay down the law as to how band members can or cannot challenge decisions made at committee level.
In my time I have had the pleasure of serving as Founder, VP, Chair, BM and committee member with various bands and I have never hidden behind a constitution when band members who pay subs to play in a band question or criticize something I have been a party to. Whether the members have helped run the band or not has never been an issue, the fact that they turn up week after week to rehearse and represent the band in concerts and contests and pay for the privilege of having this hobby has always meant that they have a voice whether I wanted to hear it or not.
I voiced my concerns to Sarah before I went on holiday and my reasons for not wanting to be at the 'centre' of any strife. However it seems that these concerns were not resolved and now the committee seems not to be prepared to listen to concerns from the people who elected them.
I was extremely proud to be asked to be the deputy band master for this band and looked forward to giving real service to the band and I was looking forward to building on the work our section has started, we could have had a great section. Unfortunately I can no longer do this and must tender my own resignation with immediate effect. I too will be handing back uniforms, music and a bass that I have looked after, much to my wife's annoyance, because there was no space in the band store.
Honestly I feel that this could have been handled better so that no one would have felt the need to leave. I wish the band every success in the future.
From: Jim Parr
Sent: 21 August 2010, 9:03 AM
To: All members
I'm not very good at email, so apologies if this is sent in a confusing way. This will be my final comment on this matter. I want to make clear two things. The first is that at Geoff ****'s suggestion, I sent my concerns to Sarah with a request that she would raise them with the committee. I copied that email to Geoff. I did not receive the elementary courtesy of a reply or even an acknowledgement from Sarah, Geoff or the committee.
[Webmaster’s Note: It was not suggested that he send anything to Sarah, who was the Chair of the band, not the Secretary. See Geoff’s email Sent: 19 August 2010 10:55 AM supra. Nor was a request received to raise any matter with the committee]
I take it from the content of Sarah's subsequent letter to the band that the committee were in fact shown my email, since that letter reads in large part like a detailed response to it. (Although the letter went out over Sarah's signature, I do not do not think for one moment that she actually wrote it).
I am sorry that the committee does not feel itself obliged to act in accordance with the general courtesies of adult discussion.
The second point is that my reference to buying in a guest trainer or conductor was merely an illustrative example of the sort of use to which funds might be put. It was not intended to be a criticism of Kevin's leadership of the band, and I apologise without reservation if I gave that impression. Kevin's leadership of the band has been magnificent. It was a privilege to play under his direction and you are privileged to have him. As I've said, I was just making a point about what seemed to me to be wiser use of funds.
If as a band you feel this matter has been mishandled by the committee, it is open to you to pass a vote of no confidence - that's a matter for you.
And that, as they say, is that.
From: Beris Bowen
Subject: Stalham concert
To: Jim Parr
Date: 22 August 2010, 20:54
We were wondering if you would be kind enough to play with us one more time at Stalham as I do not know who to ask to play in your seat. At this late stage I probably will not be able to get a dep or one that would be good and confident enough to undertake this engagement at such short notice.
Chris has kindly volunteered to play which prompted me to ask that both you and Tracey consider this request.
Chris will not be rehearsing with the band this coming Tuesday, wishing to give himself some breating space which is understandable. He will be coming the following Tuesday as he says he needs to practise the music. But both you and Tracey are very able musicians and might prefer not to rehearse which we quite understand.
Jan and Beris
From: Beris Bowen
Sent: 23 August 2010, 10:47 AM
To: NWB Committee
Subject: Fw: Stalham concert
Yesterday we received an email from Chris offering to play at the Stalham concert, realising that asking a dep to play principal baritone would not be fair at this late stage even if we could find one. He will be coming to rehearsal on 31st August but is giving himself a bit of breathing space until that time.
On hearing this piece of good news we wrote to Jim and to Tracey asking if they would consider doing the same.
This is Jim's reply.
From: Jim Parr
To: Beris Bowen
Sent: 22 August 2010, 23:55
Subject: Re: Stalham concert
The committee describes itself as "deeply disappointed" with the attitude of those members who have criticised it. Since I have been one of, if not the most, vocal of those critics, I take it the committee is deeply disappointed with me. I don't wish to play for folk who are disappointed with me.
If the committee wish to withdraw this remark and acknowledge formally, that it was offensive and unwarranted, and that the belligerent tone of their letter to the band was unhelpful and equally unwarrranted, I will be happy to help at Stalham. I agree with Chris that in any event, I would prefer not to come to rehearsal this Tuesday unless it is to drop off band property that Tracey and I have, in the event that no such acknowledgement is forthcoming.
I imagine you have sent a copy of your email to Tracey. I cannot speak for her, but she has been very hurt by all this and I suspect she will be less inclined to compromise - you'll have to ask her.
Please feel free to show this email to the committee.
[Webmaster's Note: The form of this email was agreed at a committee meeting on 23 August – without a vote being taken. Sarah (Chair) and Geoff dissociated themselves from it.]
From: Beris Bowen
To: Jim Parr
Sent: 24 August 2010, 10.09
Subject: Apology from committee NMB
Please accept this letter as an unreserved apology from the committee.
At last night's meeting it was agreed that mistakes had been made and the committee are sorry that you found the letter unhelpful and offensive. It was never intended to be a personal insult to yourself or anybody else but to address the various points raised by those band members who had communicated their feelings by email and telephone to various committee members.
It is very much regretted that the committee's response led to your resignation from the band, and acknowledge that lack of communication was the key factor in all of this. Steps are being put in place to ensure that this will not happen again.
The committee are in full agreement regarding the points you made concerning improving the quality of playing and intend to take your suggestions on board as a way of moving the band forward.
It is sincerely hoped that you will reconsider your decision and that the band can continue to benefit from your commitment.
This is a copy of the letter sent out by Yvonne to all band members:
The committee are sorry for the unforeseen problems that have arisen regarding uniform and the subsequent controversy.
It had always been the intention to present a made up sample of a plain waistcoat to the band but circumstances arose which led to the project hurriedly going ahead. In retrospect it should not have been rushed into without getting the views of band members.
It is regretted that this has caused upset and are sorry that the response led to some members resigning from the band.
Lack of communication has led to this situation and the committee will address this to avoid anything of this nature happening in the future.
The committee wish to apologise to all band members for the letter that was sent out in error. It was not a true reflection of the majority of committee members and therefore the committee wish to withdraw it.
From: Alex Bishop
Sent: 31 August 2010, 10:27
To: All members
Hello Jim and Tracy,
I am really surprised to have seen the correspondence circulated whilst I was on holiday.
I am just a member of the band I know, but I would ask you both to reconsider leaving the band. I for one admire you both and believe the band will very much poorer musically and as a fellowship.
I am sure the issues can be sorted and that we would all be stronger as a result. To this end I would be happy to act as a mediator to help resolve the issues.
With warmest regards,
From: Jim Parr
To: All members
Sent: August 31 2010, 3:03 PM
Thank you very much. I'm glad to say that we don't need to avail ourselves of your kind offer; following the committee's apology for and withdrawal of the letter sent on 20.08.10, Tracey and I have withdrawn our resignations. I'm copying this to everyone so the position is clear to all.
I think the way forward is best summed up in the old phrase about "least said, soonest mended". See you all tonight.
Jim and Tracey