Section Leader Tips?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SophiaPetrillosBuddy, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. SophiaPetrillosBuddy

    SophiaPetrillosBuddy New Friend

    Dec 19, 2012
    Okay, so this isn't directly related to trumpets, but I didn't know where to put this thread. Anyways, as you probably guessed from the title, I'm the section leader of the trumpets. It's not as glamorous as one might perceive. I try to be a mellow person, but my section gets on my very last nerve. There's this one girl in particular, this is her second year in high school band and third year overall. She asks questions that I have no clue how she doesn't know about the music, like how to finger F# or B below the staff. We learned all of this in beginning band, and she has a foundations book with a fingering chart. Not to mention, she also wants to move to second chair. If you don't know the basics, what makes you think you're moving up a chair? When I try to instruct her on what to do, she ignores everything I said. She's gotten in trouble with the band director many times, but proceeds in these actions. I'm not going to baby her and teach her every note and rhythm step by step. Do you guys have any tips on what to do? I have tried to be a section leader to my best abilities, but they just seem to treat me like I'm their equal.
  2. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Perhaps you have been the "good cop" for too long, and let things slide... I would just leave her to her own fate for the moment and let her make her own way... but stay firm with your decision that you need basic skills and a good performace record to move up.
  3. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    Okay, you're in high school and you have a section that doesn't want to listen to you--nothing new in that. You have a particular irritant--nothing new in that either. You don't have to be a bad cop and you don't have to be a good cop, but you do need to be a section leader. If someone doesn't know a fingering refer them to their fingering chart--tell them to learn scales (maybe even keep some scale sheets in your music folder to give them). When someone can't figure out a rhythm refer them to their beginning book. Don't tell them how to play the rhythm, teach them how to count so they can figure the rhythms out themselves. You don't have to provide them with valve oil, mutes, sympathy, etc.--but you are expected to provide them with leadership. Your job is to make the section better and doing that may not win you a lot of friends, but if it makes the section play better--if the final result is that individual players become better musicians--then you have done your job. Set a high standard for yourself and expect the others to do the same.
  4. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    In a previous life, I was certified as a judge of public speaking and acting contests. The code of conduct for judges in that organization was one of the best I have ever seen for any position of leadership: "FRISC"

    - Firm
    - Right
    - Impartial
    - Strict
    - Courteous

    The band director and everyone else in the section sees the same things you do about this person. Don't lower yourself to her level. Being the "boss" doesn't mean you need to be "bossy." Set a good example, communicate clearly, and follow "FRISC"; and you will be respected by everyone who matters.
  5. Branson

    Branson Piano User

    Jan 16, 2011
    ..To me, you don't sound like a good section leader.....
  6. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    Disagree. The fact that she is trying to do a good job and is willing to ask for advice from people who have been there before indicates to me she probably has "the right stuff" even if she doesn't have a ton of experience quite yet.
  7. SophiaPetrillosBuddy

    SophiaPetrillosBuddy New Friend

    Dec 19, 2012
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Come monday I'll try to implement them with my section. This is my first and only year as section leader, and I want to make it somewhat decent.
  8. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    Have you tried the come on let's go have a coffee we need to discuss the section over a drink. This is what I need from you, all done in the spirit of friendship and cooperation. Is she older than you. You could try the look you and I have probably got off on the wrong foot we need to work together approach. I once had a situation where I was with a group and one of the members was not pulling their weight and after arguments and a bit of snottyness I gave the player some small responsibility to look after a couple of younger players. It not only changed our clash into friendship, it changed the attitude to their own playing and helped the group out no end. Is there any chance you could do something like that.

    I deplore the "You aren't a good section leader comment" The fact you are asking for help means to me that you are. Let's face it you are young to be a "man manager" and perhaps you need a bit more experience and maybe help from the Band Director in how to handle this situation. Snotty comments such as Branson made up there help no one. Perhaps he thought he was being pithy but a statement like that with no help is just bad form.
  9. Rapier

    Rapier Forte User

    Jul 18, 2011
    I think I'm more with Branson than not. Is it any big deal to help her out with rhythms or note fingerings ? People learn in different ways. You're the section leader, isn't your job to help the section sound good as a section? Give her any help she asks for.

    I've been a brass player for a long time and still come across rhythms that I need to look at to work out, BUT I learn it a lot quicker if I hear it played first and will often ask a better player to do so. No drama involved.
  10. vern

    vern Piano User

    Mar 4, 2008
    Forgive me if I misread your note but you suggest that you thought the position would be more "glamorous" and that you should be treated as special (ie., "they treat me just as an equal"). And the remark, "how could she have no clue?" makes me wonder if others perceive you in a negative light? Don't let them think you are stuck up, haughty, or that you think you are too good or they are not good enough for you. I learned as principal in an orchestra that humility, seeking first to understand, leading by example, positive criticism, and not letting "the jerks" control my emotions go a long way.

    Good luck with your section and I hope you have a great learning experience.

    • :-)

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