Did you know that Belfast is a UNESCO City of Music??
Nope me neither…….well until Darren Ferguson of Beyond Skin & Marching Metal updated me! Darren has been at the forefront of the Belfast bid, and is continually pushing Belfast City Council for inclusion of Marching Bands in their events.
So I had a quick look on their website to see what it’s all about….in particular the Make Music Day initiative on 21st June.
According to their site, the criteria for being involved is:
Anyone can perform on Make Music Day, it is totally different from your average music festival. It’s a DIY Music Festival where participants organise their own gig, or join organisations that are creating activity for Make Music Day. No invitation required, you are all invited to be part of this truly global celebration of music making.
There are only three conditions for your event to be part of the Make Music Day programme.
It must be free to the public
It has to be music (of any kind)
It needs to be performed (or first broadcast where digital) on 21st JuneGet Involved – Make Music Day
Lets face it – within Northern Ireland, what is the biggest voluntary arts sector in the UK? Actively involving approx 35,000 musicians on a weekly basis?
You guessed it!! MARCHING BANDS.
21st June 2023 – is a Wednesday. And of course there’ll be parades and bands rehearsing on that evening. So what’s stopping us being part of this?
What’s in it for me?
Going to be honest upfront……nothing tangible in terms of ££ or gig’s etc – but sometimes you’ve got to see beyond that.
There is the opportunity for promotion as the event runs in 125 countries on the 21 June every year. Some bands in the past have got quite a bit of publicity and engagement from getting involved.
Shankill Road Defenders, got involved in 2020, producing this recording (it was during lockdown) and way back in 2015 they were playing alongside other cultures and people, including Muslim musicians, from a wide range of countries across the world, such as Jamaica, India, Slovakia, Ghana and Kurdistan. And they were invited to take part in a province wide tour with Music Unite as part of Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week
But in realistic terms, many bands are finding that having open-air rehearsals and inviting your local community to come along, is benefiting in terms of new members. (Obviously this depends on your location – an open-air rehearsal in Dunloy for instance wouldn’t garner many new recruits!)
There’s also the potential of being able to quote it on funding applications, local press write ups, etc
Why get involved then?
Sometimes we can be insular and look inwards – natural really as we’re often discredited and demeaned at every chance.
But whenever we’re presented with opportunities to promote ourselves and our culture, sometimes we think “ack we’ll leave that to someone else, it’s not for us”
But really it should be for all of us.
We need to get over this whole stigma that exists of “Bands = Bad”. We need to counter the negativity. And no one can do that better than us.
You might think….”we’re not good enough” RUBBISH! take a look at some of the acts taking part. You’re more than good enough!!
If you’re not directly involved in bands or parading, sometimes you don’t know where to go to see them, or you don’t understand what they’re about. Or you might want to get involved but don’t know who to approach! We take it for granted everyone knows our “ways” – they don’t!
And there’s really only 1 way to get that word out there – get involved and let people know about us. And that doesn’t mean changing or diluting our culture and beliefs. It’s about showcasing what we KNOW we’re good at – making music and organising events.
Kinda what Making Music Day is all about!
OK – what do I have to do?
Well – visit their website for a start – have a read and hoke around.
If your band is rehearsing on 21st June, make it an open invite thing by adding it to their listing. If you’re holding a parade on 21st June – add it as well.
They’ve got some handy resources on there as well – guidance on how to get the most out of social media, how to host a live stream etc…..which is useful to us all in this digital age.
What have we to promote?
Well…..if you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to tell you!
But here’s just a few benefits I’ve raised about Marching Bands in the past.
- Learning Musical Skills – Ensemble or Solo
- Self-esteem & Sense of pride in achievements
- Confidence & Leadership
- Enhance Social & Communication Skills
- Behavioural Standards
- Health & Fitness
- Decorum & pride in personal appearance
- Self Development
- Importance of discipline & stamina
- Working with others & integrating with different age groups
- Respect for others
- Provides a sense of purpose
- Mental Health
- Feeling of belonging/Community Cohesion
- Sense of Responsibility
- Skills development
- Chairing of meetings
- Public Speaking
- Child Protesction
- PR & Good Relations
- Conflict Management
- Event Management/Marshalling
- Risk Assessment
- Interaction with Public Bodies
- Vulnerable Adults Training
- First Aid & Health & Safety
- Alcohol/Drugs & Suicide Awaremess
- Compromise & negotiation skills
- Admin – applications for grants or projects.
- Integral part of the Protestant, Unionist & Loyalist Community
- Forum for Cultural Expression
- Multi-generational membership
And I’m sure you can think of many more…….