Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Centre Cannot Hold

Problems continue to brew at the band. Morale is at a very low ebb, several of the relationships are breaking down, and the competition season is going badly, and so failing to distract everyone from everything that's going wrong.

Still, with a bit of luck the tide is starting to turn. The reality is that we're all in this together, and nobody benefits if the band collapses. So, hopefully we can start to mend those fences before things go too far.

Of course, it would help if everyone was on the same page about how things were supposed to work...

The management of the band is really made up of two parts, neither of which can function on its own, and neither of which is truly independent. These are the playing side and the administrative side. The committee is supposed to be made up of both.

A single person can fill two or more roles on the committee and in the band. However, the committee should be at least 10 people strong, with a quorum of half the membership required for a meeting to take place. (Due to various factors, our current committee is reduced to 8, with only 5 regularly able to attend meetings. Yes, this is one of the problems we're currently facing.)

On the Playing Side

The key people on the playing side are as follows:

  • The Pipe Major: The Pipe Major is in overall charge of the band. He's responsible for setting the musical direction of the band, for choosing the tunes, for teaching the band, and for generally getting the band ready for events and competitions. As a practical manner, the Pipe Major must also liase closely with every other member of the committee, as everyone will need to bounce ideas off him. The Pipe Major is elected by the band at the AGM, although this tends to be a formality as there is usually only one real choice.
  • Pipe Sergent(s): In short, the Pipe Sergent steps in when the Pipe Major is unavailable. In general, the PS is in charge only on a temporary basis, so shouldn't be making any sweeping decisions! The Pipe Sergeants are appointed by the Pipe Major.
  • Lead Drummer: Just as the Pipe Major selects scores and teaches the pipers, so to does the Lead Drummer select scores and teaches the drum corps. The Lead Drummer is appointed by the Pipe Major.
  • The band also (officially) has a Development Band, with its own Pipe Major and Lead Drummer, although this has fallen by the wayside this year. Again, these individuals are appointed by the Pipe Major.

It should probably be noted that most of the members on the playing side are appointed, rather than elected, to maintain consistency in the musical direction of the band.

On the Administrative Side

All posts on the administrative side are elected by the band at the AGM. In the event that a member steps down, a replacement should be elected at an EGM by the band, although in some cases the committee may continue without.

  • Chairperson: As the name implies, the chairperson chairs committee meetings. Essentially, that is his only job.
  • Secretary: Simply put, the secretary's job is "communication". He should be dealing with all external communications, making sure that the band responds to equiries about events promptly, dealing with RSPBA registrations, competition entry fees, child-protection disclosure, and so on. Additionally, he should ensure that the band members are kept informed of what they need to know. The secretary's job is one of the biggest in the band, and probably the one that most often fails to get the recognition it deserves.
  • Treasurer: Handles the money. This person should keep track of moneys in and moneys out, ensuring that the band always has the funds it needs, and making sure that we don't over-extend ourselves.
  • Travel Convenor: With the band attending several competitions, including a trip to Ireland, and so requiring buses, we have a dedicated Travel Convenor. The role of this person also covers finding a venue for practices, and indeed a replacement venue if the original is closed for any reason. Quartermaster: Handles the uniforms, instruments, and other "physical assets" of the band. This person should be the go-to person for getting new members kitted out, should be the person who recovers outstanding kit from members when the leave, and should keep track of what we have and what we need to continue fielding the band. In theory, the QM should also conduct twice-annual kit inspections, and so should ensure that members are keeping kit in appropriately good condition.
  • Representatives: We have a Parent's Rep as a matter of course, and also appoint Piper's and Drummer's Reps as required to bring the committee up to the required strength. As the names imply, the job of the Reps is to speak for their respective constituents, ensuring that any concerns that they have are appropriately addressed.
  • Honorary President: Until April 9th of this year, the band also had an Honorary President. The Hon Pres had no particular job, but was appointed for life to reflect many years of long service. It is not expected that we will have another Hon Pres any time soon.
  • Fund-raising: Additionally, we have a couple of people who are supposed to coordinate fund-raising activities. In practice, these have ended up being responsible for fund-raising activities, but that's actually not their role. After all, the entire band benefits from funds raised, and so the entire band has a responsibility in this area.

So, the way it should work:

  1. A member of the committee recognises that something in their area needs to be dealt with. For example, maybe the QM recognises that we need new drums as the existing ones have become quite old.
  2. The member determines specifically what needs to be done, and in what time frame. For example, "we need 6 drums, they'll cost £80 each, and we need them by the start of next season."
  3. The committee member brings the issue up at the next committee meeting (or, if it's urgent, calls an immediate meeting to resolve the issue). In particular, if significant amounts of money must be spent (more than £100), this must be voted on by the committee.
  4. Once the required action has been authorised, the committee member should proceed to resolve the issue. In the example, the Quartermaster would thus source the required drums, ensure that they are suitable (by speaking to the Lead Drummer), and thus proceed with the purchase. The QM should not need to return to the committee for further authorisation unless the issue turns out to be significantly different from that discussed. (For example, if it turns out we need 8 drums instead of 6, or they cost £120 each, or...)

And that, broadly speaking, is how it should work. The reality is somewhat different... (Oh, and incidentally - the example I used is just that. It doesn't reflect any issue the band is currently having, and shouldn't be read as a metaphor for anything.)

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