I watch very little television but just recently my attention was drawn to a BBC2 documentary called ‘A Band For Britain’. The programme follows Sue Perkins as she attempts to breathe new life into the Dinnington Colliery Brass Band. It was quite simply one of the funniest, most moving and most affecting things I have ever seen.
I have two reasons to be particularly vulnerable to a programme like this. Firstly because on my mother’s side of my family, my great grandfather was a coal miner in Dinnington and would have been one of those that the original band aimed to benefit. Also because brass band music, in particular its tradition in community, is something I find very powerful.
Other than the remarkable characters, I think what really stands out in this programme is the lack of synicism with regards to making music and the influence and importance of music within a population. If this is something that interests you then the programme is still available for viewing on the BBC iplayer.
As you’ll see in the show for every pound spent on community music by the UK arts council, one thousand pounds is spent on opera or ballet. Not to belittle the opera or ballet or to suggest that they warrant any less funding. Its just that after wathcing this I would be amazed if the value, relevance and importance of community music like that of the Colliery Brass Band is not glaringly obvious.