Join a Band
Become a part of it
Each week, students at over 40 universities enjoy rehearsing, socialising and performing as part of university brass bands. If you’re off to university this summer, or already a student, you too can get involved with the fun, and keep playing at university by joining a university brass band!
Find out about your university's brass band using our Find a Band page, or read on to find out more about university brass banding.
About University Banding
Most university bands rehearse at least once a week, and perform a huge variety of music, from traditional (and modern) brass band pieces, to arrangements of popular works. But being students, the social aspect of banding is important, and bands run a range of band socials, making them a great way to meet new people with similar interests. In fact, many students find their closest friends through band.
If you have the time, being a part of a university brass band doesn’t prevent you from also being a part of a local band. In fact many bands form close links with local bands, so you may be able to join a local band with people you know from uni band. Since university bands don’t register their players for competitions, you will still be able to register and compete with a local band (or stay registered at home).
What else do university brass bands do?
University bands offer great performance opportunities in venues such as prestigious concert halls and cathedrals, and events including masterclasses, concerts joint with local bands, carolling, and the Whit Friday contests.
The highlight of most university bands’ year is UniBrass - the inter-university brass band championships - which sees over 20 university brass bands come together from across the UK each February for a great day of music making, followed of course by the famous UniBrass social. As well as an opportunity to perform a high quality entertainments set and bond with your band, UniBrass is a chance to catch up with other university banders that you know from youth band.
How do I join?
Using our list of university brass bands you can find out more about to join your university's brass band, and how best to join.
Generally, universities will have a freshers fair in the first few weeks of term. As well as being an opportunity to pick up loads of free things, this is where you get the opportunity to meet representatives of all your clubs and societies, including your brass band. Most bands will then hold a taster rehearsal which you can attend and get involved! Some bands might not attend their freshers fairs, but you will be able to find details of their taster rehearsals on their website or facebook - you can find links to these on our list of university bands.
What standard do I need to be?
Many bands will take players of any standard, whilst some bands run specific beginners schemes where they can teach you how to play a brass instrument from scratch. In fact, many non-brass musicians learn join brass bands whilst at university and learn on the job. Again, it is best to contact individual bands to see what they provide.
Whilst, the vast majority are unauditioned, some audition for specific seats, and a few select bands require auditions to join. You don’t usually have to be a music student to join, and in many bands most members are from other courses, making university banding a great way to meet people from across the university. If you don't have your own instrument, we would recommend contacting individual bands to see which instruments they can provide.
What should I do if my university doesn't have a Brass Band?
Check out your university's other ensembles
Whilst we'd love you to join a brass band, if you play a different instrument, most universities will have orchestras or wind bands that you could join. You may even find other brass players there to form a brass band or ensemble with.
Join a nearby university’s brass band
If your university doesn’t have a band of its own, find another uni band! A lot of bands currently competing at UniBrass compete as mergers, meaning that some of their players actually study at another nearby university that doesn’t have its own band. This is a great way to join in the fun if you don’t think there is enough interest at your own university to set a band up. Look on our list of university bands to check if there is one local to you.
How can I start my own band?
If there isn’t another university brass band at your university, or you just want to create some local inter-university band rivalry you can set a brass band up! If you are looking to start a new university band, then we recommend contacting us.
The Foundation trustees have multiple years of experience in running brass bands, and are therefore ideally placed to offer advice to to anyone looking to set up a new band, and UniBrass has helped in the creation of a number of new university brass bands so far. We also would offer the following advice:
Speak to your SU about setting up a brass band society. Most students unions will help you in setting up new societies, and should assist you from the universities perspective. They may be able to offer you some financial support, help you to recruit members, finding rehearsal spaces, as well as some of the other aspects that can let you focus on the banding!
Ask around at local brass bands, and any other music societies at your university. They may know keen student brass players who can not only play in your band, but also form an initial committee and take the pressure off you. Local bands may also be able to help out in the initial stages to get your band off the ground, such as lending music and publicity, and they are good contacts for a band to have even once fully developed.
Don’t be afraid to start small. Whilst your end goal may be a fully fledged brass band, its better to get the band off the ground as a small group such as a quintet or ten-piece and grow from there. UniBrass contest rules do not limit bands on their size, so even a small ensemble would be welcome to compete!
As well as general advice, the UniBrass Foundation may be able to assist with publicity, by helping you to send out press releases to brass band press, as well as locally.