Messages from JMcK

Recent significant emails from Jock McKenzie, Director of the HCYB, are posted here just in case members lose their emails.


Extracts of a letter sent out by e-mail Friday 26th October 2012.  Confidential and out of date elements have been removed so please check your e-mail.

Dear Parents and band members

Attendance and commitment 

The HCYBs enjoy an excellent reputation for musical standards and opportunity. Our standards and values are as a result of the commitment shown by so many of our members across the bands as well as the work and skills of our staff team. All members and parents are aware of the conditions of HCYB membership including the crucial elements of regular attendance and commitment to all band activities. Of course there will be instances where absence is unavoidable e.g. illness, educational activities etc but otherwise full attendance is a requirement of HCYBs membership.

All three bands have made an excellent start to this our 50th Anniversary year, but, at the same time there has been a high level of absenteeism at rehearsals. As a result musical standards and productivity suffers. Equally significant is the period of notification given for absence by some. All rehearsals are carefully planned for by our staff; we don’t simply turn up on a Saturday morning to announce “what shall we play today”? All too often this term notification of absence has been last minute (if at all in a minority of cases) or even given in retrospect. I should point out that falling ill at short notice is understandably a different context altogether). This forces conductors to abandon at the very last minute what was planned for the good of the bands & hence the standard of band playing and productivity suffers. Band / ensemble playing is a team activity – everyone matters and conductors plan for everyone to matter!

Please can I ask all members and parents to consider this matter with understanding and recognition of the excellent commitment shown by the very substantial majority of our members. Put simply we want you to be members of the bands and we want you to have a great time, but we expect you to commit!

Insurance of HCYB instruments 
Our band instruments are used in many varied situations. Very often, members use our instruments in a non HCYBs context i.e. school / college use, community bands, transit, storage etc. It is particularly this varied use that creates a situation where insurance issues fall ‘between the cracks’. It is for this reason that each year I pay a very substantial sum of money from the HCYB account to adequately insure our instrumental stock with a specialist company and policy. This protection ensures that our equipment is safe and operational in all manner of situations inside and outside of direct HCYBs use. The protection of these instruments ensures that instruments of a good (and often professional standard) quality are available to all band members that need them & who stand to benefit from their use in the HCYBs and beyond. This protection also ensures that our instruments can be maintained to a workable level. The day has never yet come when a student has been denied a place in the HCYBs purely because they do not possess a suitable instrument – I do not wish that scenario ever to arrive! Appropriate insurance of our band equipment goes a long way to safeguarding this provision.

Although not officially requested, some parents have chosen to include HCYB instruments on their household contents insurance, but the instrument has of course been insured at the same time under the official HCYB policy. In the recent past the there have been instances where household insurance policies have not ‘paid up’ in the event of a stolen / damaged / lost etc HCYB instrument. For this reason and those stated above it is essential that all HCYB instrument insurance matters are handled through our official policy. HCYB does not charge a loan or rental fee, but I would ask that parents contribute to the cost of insurance as requested (if in possession of a HCYB instrument). The amount requested is significantly subsidised and does not seek to differentiate between sizes and values of instruments.

Many Thanks

Jock McKenzie 
Director, Hampshire County Youth Bands