MSE Status – On Hold

Hi all,

By way of clarification, and to save wasted trips etc.,  We will not hold an MSE rehearsal this coming Monday Sept 2ndIndeed, all rehearsals and musical events are on hold currently.

As I’ve detailed previously, the decline of the MSE’s musical activities over the past 2 – 3 years is primarily due to a lack of involvement and effort on behalf of the band’s members.  I am determined to positively address this as our key priority, such that we can work as a productive team.

If we can’t build a successful team, and put corresponding actions in place in the next few weeks, I will put repertoire rehearsals on hold indefinitely.

Please be aware that this is not a threat – simply a consequence of what seems to be the group’s unwillingness to support the band’s aims.  Right now, and based on an analysis of our behaviour over the past year, I’ll admit that I don’t see us being successful in getting the band back on track – but I don’t want to give up without giving you the chance to understand our predicament, and do something positive about it.

Next Steps

Firstly, I have told the Eastcliffe team that we may be a few weeks late starting back.  This will hold them off for a while, but if we don’t start back in a few weeks, I’ll have to hand back our key and it’s by no means certain that we’ll then be able to return to rehearsals at Eastcliffe.

As in previous messages, I’ve given us until the end of September to set up half a dozen concert opportunities.   This is perfectly achievable if we get out from behind our computers promptly, and start talking to churches and other groups who can provide a venue and an audience – but if we don’t act quickly we’ll lose the opportunity to put a repertoire together this term.

I’ll organise a meeting of all those who are interested in getting the MSE back to active service, on the evening of Monday 9th September. On the evening, I’ll answer any questions you may have on how best to organise a concert opportunity, and provide my support to any active enquiries.

Please note that this will not be a general discussion on the future of the MSE, or a forum for ideas to change what we do etc.

The venue will be dependent on the attendees list.  If you would like to participate, please send me an email by Wednesday next week (4th Sept.) latest – ta.

Hope to speak to you soon, Jem

Re-starting the MSE – time is running out !

Hi all,

As you’ll have gathered from my last couple of messages, the MSE’s musical activities are currently ‘on-hold’ pending our working together as a team to set up some concert opportunities and put together a 2-year plan that we can all work to, to take the MSE successfully into 2013/14.

It’s highly disappointing therefore that over the summer break, we’ve made little or no progress on this (I’ve not had any replies at all from the majority of the band), and as a result our return to rehearsals will be substantially delayed.

As a side note, Jas will continue as events co-ordinator, but will be in India for several weeks, so can only join in by email.

This clearly presents some extra difficulties but they’re not insurmountable providing we all pitch in.

If we can’t get the band organised effectively in September, there’s little point in us running the group at all in the autumn term.

I’ve heard back from a few that the task of setting up concerts looks difficult, so I’ve written a guide for you.  It includes not only a very good ‘how-to’ section, but also some recent examples that show that arranging events is actually pretty easy.

Jo Overty has made some contacts on our behalf, and has passed me details of a church in Douglas who’s team are happy to run a shared-revenue concert.  I hope to translate this into a more detailed commitment during this week.  Separately, I set out to duplicate my previous experience at Patrick church by simply visiting a target venue.  I did exactly that at Glen Maye, and two days later we have a commitment from them to run a revenue sharing concert – details are in the document below.

Notably, none of the playing members other than myself, appears to have made any attempt to participate in this important topic.

So – I’ve made it clear repeatedly that we’ll only re-start the band if I see us being successful, and the largest part of that is seeing the band’s members show an interest, followed by actual effort, in contributing to the band’s aims.

By default, the band will not resume in the coming term.  If you want to change this, its up to you, to do your bit.

If you’re stuck as to what to do next, just get in touch and I’ll provide whatever advice and guidance I can.

Thanks, Jem

Arranging Concerts – a guide – August 2013

Concerts for 2014

Concerts for 2014


As you know, I posted a message a few weeks back, asking members of the group to suggest venues which we might approach to set up some concerts, and bring some money into the group.  I asked everyone to send in a few possibilities together with contact details (a name and telephone number), together with their view as to why the venue might yield a good audience.

I received only three replies, which is in itself disappointing.   Further, whilst the replies provided some names of venues, there was no supporting rationale as to why they would work for the MSE.  As a result we haven’t moved forward.

Given that our first priority on returning in the new term will be to set up some concert dates and that rehearsals are on hold until the support team is properly up and running, I thought it was worth re-visiting this topic, and explaining clearly what we need and why.

The MSE is a concert-band.  Organising and putting on concerts is a core activity for us, and we need to gain some income from our concerts to stay on an even keel financially.  However, we’re not good at promoting ourselves or selling tickets, and we don’t have a decent ‘fan-base’ to call on to swell numbers for our concerts … so setting up regular concerts where we have to sell tickets to cover our costs is at best risky, and is likely to cost us money, not bring in revenue.

For this reason, I have described an approach which has no risk for us or our concert partners… and which involves getting together with venue holders who have an associated audience.  Primarily this means churches, and some charity groups if they have good support from their membership.

Our proposition is simple ->  “you provide the venue, we’ll provide the music, and we’ll split any receipts from tickets, raffles etc. equally”.

To make this work, we have only to follow a simple three-step plan …

  1. Put together a list of suitable venues, accenting churches as the most likely candidates
  2. Agree as a team, which venues are most likely to provide a good audience
  3. Contact them face to face, offering to put on a concert

As concerts and events co-ordinator Jas will help manage our inputs, and I’ll help out with any site visits / face-to-face chats, but we first need to build a list of likely venues (ideally 5 – 10 candidates) to work with – and that’s going to require some effort from the team as a whole.


How you can help …


Research you local area

Looking on the internet for the name of your local church unfortunately won’t take us where we need to go.  It doesn’t tell us whether the venue is likely to produce an audience or not.  You’ll need to get a little more involved in the task if we’re to be successful ….

Make enquiries of your friends and family, or just drop in at your local church / village hall etc.   If you find that it’s well-attended, ask who’s in charge and then make some basic enquiries … do they hold music events ?, have these been a success in the past ? etc.

Once we’ve identified a few candidates of this sort, Jas and I will make further enquiries, and the concerts will undoubtedly follow quickly.

Why this hasn’t worked so far

Various support-team members have held the title of “concert organiser” in the past, and we set up a team last year whose remit was exactly as described above.

However, these have all been inactive … we’ve never actually reached out in person to venue holders, and indeed we’ve never even put the basics in place to enable us to work as a team.

Will it work now ?

I’m confident that if we all step forward and do our bit, that not only can we make a success of setting up some concerts, but that this will serve as a catalyst to help bring the team together as a properly working unit.  However, if you leave the work to others, we run the risk of meeting up in September only to find that we’ve made no progress at all over the summer break, and that our rehearsals plan is delayed as a result.

In other words, its up to you to !


Rehearsals are on hold, until we get the support team up and running and set up some concert dates

The more people get involved, the quicker we can put things in place and get back to playing music

If you want to help, contact me with details of a venue or two that you’ve researched including …


– The name of the venue

– The name of a contact person at the venue (preferably someone that you’ve spoken with recently)

– Their telephone number

– Why you think that a joint concert would work well for the MSE


See you in September … Cheers Jem

A little holiday homework …..

Hi all,

As you know, our first meeting (September 2nd) will be dedicated to getting the team up and running – with your help !

As a summary, we need to set up / agree the following before we re-start music rehearsals

An effective Support team / Committee – We have volunteers for Secretary, Treasurer, Librarian, Concerts Organiser.  We just need to make sure the team is functioning correctly and working together to run the group’s admin.

An activity plan backed by a financial forecast, agreed by the support team

An effective system of communication both internally and to the outside world.

A schedule of planned and agreed events (minimum 2 per term)

An effective music-library system which ensures that everyone has sheet music without everyone having to print off multiple parts.


The quicker we put the basics in place, the quicker we can begin making music, so to get a head start on the planning cycle, could each member of the group please suggest a venue or two (probably easiest to pick one close to where you live) which might host an MSE concert, with tickets selling at say £5 a head.   We’d be looking for venue holders to provide the audience, so churches are the default option – but feel free to suggest other organisations.

Please provide contact details for any venue you put forward, and a brief reason as to why you feel the venue would work well, and send your suggestions to me by email in the next two weeks.


I’ll compile a list of venues suggested by members, and we’ll use the list as a key discussion topic on Sep 2nd.

Thanks in advance, Jem