So, who are these members of ours? And who are we?
We are Making Music, the UK association for leisure-time music, with over 3,800 music groups as our members. Between them, they include around 220,000 hobby musicians.
There are symphony orchestras and community choirs, jazz bands and folk ensembles, ukulele groups, choral societies, drumming circles, glee clubs, saxophone ensembles and Barbershop choruses – and almost any other kind of band you can think of. Many will be rehearsing or performing in your village hall.
About 380 of them are amateur promoters: volunteers bringing professional music performances to their community for all to enjoy without having to drive miles to the nearest city. They will also be hiring your hall.
In common with village halls, our groups are generally run by volunteers who do an amazing job wrestling with unfamiliar responsibilities from health and safety to safeguarding, data protection to funding applications, social media and VAT… And constantly trying to find new volunteers and persuade existing ones not to head for the hills when new red tape appears over the horizon, which they will need to comply with.
But why do they it? Why spend your free hours organising the concert programme or trying to coax the ancient heating system back to life? Why not just go to the pub or sit in front of the telly?
Perhaps because they’re ours: our groups, our halls, our activity, our community. And our personal contribution means there will be a carol concert and there will be a room for the Flamenco class and the gardening talk. That’s why I agree to join a committee and spend evenings worrying about Charity Commission reporting.
Halls and groups are two sides of the same coin: no group would survive with no space locally to rehearse and perform; and there would be no hall without groups to fill it.
Communal living room, doorstep concert hall, wedding venue (aka the village hall) meets brass band, choir, guitar ensemble (aka leisure-time music group) – it’s time to celebrate the essential yin and yang of any community.