5: Little donkey carried Mary…


Christmas brings a period of extreme carolling. MK Brass has had a whole Christmas season of carolling concerts numbering 16 jobs this year. The hard work for a Brass Band starts in October and this does not finish until late Christmas Eve. Each person in the band was asked for availability at the end of the summer with the expectation that they should attend as many of the fixtures as possible. These jobs range from small quintets to full band with the average gig being a 10 piece turn out. The Band Chairman, Secretary and Manager have had a complex task of putting together a schedule informing the band members of their commitments over the Carolling period, booking in concerts and gigs and arranging for deps (when required). This is not unique to MK Brass with all Brass Bands in the area competing for gigs for the same reason:

The Christmas period is a good earner for income: the money raised over the period is used to pay for rehearsal space; a Musical Director; Instruments and equipment; Sheet music; the cost of deputises to cover chairs in concerts (in the absence of the normal holder); contest entry fees; concert venues; and any ad hoc expenses incurred during the year. A Brass Band works very much like a not-for-profit small enterprise and normally with charity status (we’re not professional players after all) and it all costs money. With the cost of a brass instrument being high (obviously the bigger the instrument the more expensive it costs) it is just the tip of the ice berg.

I have seen the whole of MK Brass working so hard in the run up to Christmas it is no wonder that the band parties hard when it can. It is a release after a tough rehearsal period running up to a concert or contest (usually a number of months) or a very busy period such as Christmas.

The “Crochets Rest” is a location known only to the inner sanctum of the band membership and hosts a vast majority of the band socials. It is a great place to socialise with the other band members, that due to the focus of band activity, you usually do not get time to talk to. It is a great venue to have a drink (or two) and food and the parties usually finish when the last person lets themselves out. “Remember to lock the door on the way out!!” There are instruments there too (at least a number of Brass instruments – but never played) with Piano and Guitars being favoured for a sing-song. An I-Pad shows the chords with a number of the band members playing the music. The somewhat dubious singing can go on well into the early hours. I once got told I was a “light weight” as I left the Crochet’s Rest at 5:45am when the party was still going strong!! The parties at the Crochet’s Rest are always fantastic and always deliver a great place to have a conversation, catch up with people, talk about banding (!!), eat and be merry – which cap the night off nicely. This is the social face of banding and MK Brass is an example of a very social, unique and wonderful group of individuals. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of a party… (I hate clichés)