During the past year or two, I have been thinking of how we could have a better system and what regulations we need to adapt in order to keep our band clubs running, be more attractive and get all the respect that they deserve. Obviously, this is not something I am trying to do on my own and neither am I the only one thinking about this. In fact on Saturday, 28th of April we will be discussing these issues in a seminar called “It-Triq ‘Il Quddiem” organized by the Għaqda Każini tal-Banda, where committee members, young musicians, conductors, and teachers are invited to attend.
During the process of analyzing the current state with different parties, there was always one comment that came out in every conversation, loyalty. Loyalty is a key factor in every situation in life. Loyalty is something that cannot be contracted or ordered but is expected and failure of receiving or giving it leaves a remorse to the injured party.
We have seen many musicians being treated with disregard and being ‘punished’ for lack of obedience, discipline or any sort of misconduct but really and truly they didn’t take note of why this attitude was being taken by the musician. Most of the time the reason would be either feeling underestimated or even betrayed by the same club which the musician used to love. Many a time, this type of attitude could be seen all around the club and you can simply notice the change in the ambiance of the club itself. Let us be true to ourselves if the home club doesn’t give you the right exposure and opportunities to shine, within its walls, it is only a matter of time that someone else will do that. Then it would be just too late. It is really sad to see these circumstances occur, especially when the musician acted in good faith and always gave back all his flare towards the good of the club.
On the other hand, we see musicians that loyalty towards the club ends as soon as they start playing for the first time with the band. There are even parents that their first question, when they bring their kid to start studying music, would be, “when will s/he start getting paid?”. Obviously enough, from that time onwards you would know that this student will kick his loyalty out of the way as soon as he is out. Others may also use the argument that it is not fair for them to lose any money to come and play for free for their club. Unfortunately, today, we are seeing many clubs striving to give a good service level of teaching, employing multiple teachers, give them tuition and helping them achieve results and musical qualification. On average, a club that teaches practical and theory will be giving each student a grant of around 800 Euro yearly. In simple maths, if a band club performs 16 times during a year, including concerts, a student wouldn’t have repaid a year’s tuition. So really and truly, if a student went to study at his club for let say 5 years, it will take him around 7 years to be on par with the studies provided.
We also spoke of musicians being mercenaries There are some that abuse of their position but really and truly most of the current prices were set by the clubs themselves in order to achieve a goal and show money power. Loyalty between clubs is almost inexistent and if a club needs “Joe tat-trumbun”, on a date where Joe is already committed to another club, they do not give a damn, and instead of going through the correct channels, they bribe Joe, who on the other hand is also not loyal to his word. Obviously, big-mouthed Joe will tell his counterpart, the bargain he had got, and his counterpart will then ask for Joe’s price to feel accomplished and well treated.
Loyalty is the key to have a sound foundation if we really want things to happen. Loyalty is hard to gain and easy to break. Once broken it will take a very long time, if ever, to be repaired. Luckily, we have good willed clubs that are willing to make the needed changes, but this something we have to work for together. As the Brotherhood of Man said it, or better, sung it, “United we Stand Divided We Fall”, and it is our time to decide which one is it.