SWOT Analysis of Brass Bands

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Strengths

  • Number of people playing instruments (recognised by Australian Music Association).
  • Recognition of a positive correlation between participation in (instrumental) music and higher academic achievement.

Weaknesses

  • Combining of Music with other arts when each is quite different.
  • Loss of the "artistry" of music due to change of teaching methods over the centuries from maestro to student to mass learning based on the written word when the artistic qualities of music are not written.
  • Loss of people giving up instrumental music at two major stages 1) transition from primary to secondary school, 2) at completion of secondary education.
  • Failure of young musicians to recognise the value of instrumental music until later in life.
  • Disjointed approach towards music education and instrumental music (teaching and playing).
  • Lack of cohesion / cooperation between professional associations.
  • No formal requirements in music to conduct or teach instrumental music.
  • Number of people playing instruments who are not involved in any ensemble or organisation.
  • Little connection between music / conductor training and employment opportunities.
  • Participation in professional development of individuals is based upon the individual with no compulsion from employers or organisations for individuals to participate in workshops or associations.
  • Success (or otherwise) of an ensemble has little impact on the future employment prospects of their conductor, i.e. there are few consequences for poor performance by a conductor ???
  • Increasing demand for academic achievement in schools, through the assignment of greater homework, limits students' opportunity for invovlement in an essential level of instrument practice, community ensembles or other music development opportunities.
  • Funding issues and perceptions thereof adversely impacts on Governments and private educational systems implementing formal instrumental music programs.

Opportunities

  • Potential employers of musicians / conductors might be educated on how to recognise quality in employees, most appropriate qualifications (where the teaching organisation's focus is on quality not profit making).
  • Alignment of professional associations with established tertiary institutions involved with teaching instrumental music / conducting.
  • Development of a set of competencies for conducting that are accepted in the academic world and could be relied upon by employers as a guide the capabilities of conductors.
  • Increasing membership of professional organisations (perhaps through some educational compulsion) provides more united voice when competing for limited funds and opportunities.
  • Some recognition by educators that assigning increasing levels of homework does not result in corresponding higher academic achievement.
  • Educational systems could consider the approach taken by individual schools whereby the instruments and other resources for instrumental music education are cooperatively funded between the schools and parent organisations.

Threats

  • Grants or other encouragement for non-curricular activities become merged, e.g. sport and music in schools, music being relegated to subservient placement due to numbers of "teachers" involved in sport.
  • Dissatisfaction with quality of instrumental music teaching / conducting leads to an increasing number of fragmented organisations or individuals attempting to fill the void.
  • Current "teachers" feel more threatened by organisations or indivuals who are filling the void and actively fight them.
  • General tendency towards generalisation from specialisations which is the antithesis of music, e.g. whilst modern buildings do not have the artisitic appeal or ornamentation of bygone years they still function as a building and fulfill their purpose. Music requires the artistry and ornamentation, otherwise it is just noise.

Authors

Prepared by David Sheppard, Frank Rugers, Australian Band and Orchestra Directors' Association (ABODA), and Robert Bedwell, National Bands Council of Australia (NBCA). Submitted 9 March 2008.

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