Saxophone Forum


by AlwaysBored89
(10 posts)
8 years ago

Advice for a Section Leader

Hi, I'm a senior and the first chair in my highschool bands. I'm section leader for the saxophones in my highschool marching band and I am having a lot of trouble with one of the members of my section. This kid, Chris, does not want to be in the band. Both of his older sisters were/are in the band and the only reason he is in it is because his parents are forcing him to. He actually wants to be in art, but his parents won't let him. His attitude is made very clear by all of his actions and everything he says. He doesn't march, but just walks instead. He doesn't stand at attention. And he doesn't even actually know how to play. I have told him 1000 times this year what a B flat concert scale is, and probably 10,000 times what an E flat concert scale is. He knows one small phrase that gets repeated a couple times throughout the music (we're doing james bond, and it's the 4 half note bit) and that's all he knows of the music. Chris is making it impossible for us to look good. He doesn't do what he is supposed to and half the band winds up looking bad because they're trying to correct him as a result. Not to mention the fact that he comes off as a complete j*ck*ss and is trying to get our only tuba (low brass section leader) and our flute section leader kicked out of the band because they decided to point this fact out to him. I have talked to my band instructor several times about Chris, and each time he tells me he'll "take care of it" or "talk to his parents" or he ensures me "he won't be anything to worry about much longer" (the last meaning he was going to kick him out, but that was a month ago and chris is only getting worse because he's getting the idea that nobody can kick him out) And not only is he a problem for marching band, but our school has it set up that if you're in the concert band, you have to be in the marching band and vice versa, so he's going to be around all year in concert band. If anyone knows anything I could do to try and kick Chris's butt into shape and make him actually care that he's going to hurt the band and fail band in the process (who fails band, anyway?) it would be greatly appreciated. My band instructor has already kicked two trumpets out of the band this year, and we have a total of 8 saxes so it's not like we don't have enough. I don't get why he hasn't kicked Chris out, but it's driving me insane. I talk to my instructor at least once a week about how impossible the situation is, and every week nothing happens. Please, if any of you can offer advice, do. ~Jackie

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  1. by Sax Mom
    (964 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Advice for a Section Leader

    Jackie, I am so sorry for your experience, and the difficult thing for all of us is that we can't control other people. You can't make the band director kick the guy out of band. You can't make Chris shape up. You can stand up for the tuba and flute leaders, but you can't determine the outcome for them, either. Just do your best, and then let it go, if you can. If you can pray about it, that might help, at least to give you some peace about it. We live in a broken world, where people have free will, and some people will do all that they can to try to make things miserable for the rest of us. There is only so much that you can do, and then you have to let go. Have you talked to your own parents about your struggle? They could problably give you some support as well.

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    1. by Sax Mom
      (964 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Advice for a Section Leader

      Arghhh! problably should be probably!!!!!

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      1. by saxmachine777
        (57 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: Advice for a Section Leader

        Hey man, I've been there and I know it ain't pretty. There's not too much you can do to guarantee relief, and that's rough. It's true you can't change people, but there are some approaches for dealing with a problem section member. As credential, I offer that I served as tenor sax section leader for three years of high school along with sax section leader (organization-wise) in jazz band for the same years, and a founding member of my school's sax quartet. First, it's a bummer that you have what sounds like a small band in that individual members become much more integral, making it more difficult to weed out those who really don't want to do it. Regarding Chris, consider that he probably has somewhat of a complex developed regarding his abilities as a player. He is following dynasty, and that can be stressful to try to live up to. Try not to single him out publicly and try to get time to privately discuss his problems to work out an understanding. Any public denouncement of his behavior is only going augment his dissention as it will make him feel even less wanted in a band that he feels really just wants his older siblings back instead of him. He is undoubtedly self-conscious about his playing, and as long as it's clear that he's not trying, it's clear that he's not failing an attempt. Focus foremost on helping his marching. Offer to help him out after school, privately if he wants, anything to communicate that you want to help rather than ostricize. I know it's rough and difficult to schedule, but it is unfortunately your responsibility as designated by your office to work to your fullest reasonable extent to further the advancement of the section. Chris is not going to be able to unseat two section leaders. It's obvious your band director, while not necessarily taking appropriate action, at least has this guy's number. One rebellious section member can't threaten the position of two ensconced band officers. However, you do want to communicate with them to let them know about your efforts to include and embrace this guy rather than alienate him (even when he thouroughly deserves it). At all times remember that you are an ambassador and that relations between Chris and the rest of the section/band are your top priorities. If his playing really can't be helped, work just on marching (judges have a much easier time seeing one square peg than hearing it), and if his attitude as a whole can't be helped, try to talk directly to his parents and explain the situation, with his presence if possible. It will be difficult and it will feel confrontational, but it would be ultimately better for the section, band, and (if he'd rather pursue visual arts) for Chris. Whatever you do, get respectful and civil communication going with Chris. It will be the only way to resolve anything. Good luck, George

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    2. by GSaxRGodC
      (7 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: Advice for a Section Leader

      Your school sounds so much like mine, it's kind of frightening. In fact, you have the exact number of sax players we did last year and played the exact same show... The only things different are there are no sax players named Jackie and Chris is the Tenor Sax Section Leader.... very weird...

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      1. by thelittlemarchingone
        (50 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: Advice for a Section Leader

        BE PAITENT. BE PAITENT SOME MORE! I cannot stress this enough. I've been a section leader/leader type in general since my sophomore year of high school - and I learned really quick that people just can't be worked with. You can be nice to them, you can scream at them, but they won't listen to a world you say. Welcome to the world of immature high school kids. Don't take it personally - just do the best you can with a bad situation. I really don't know what else to tell you, but I hope it works out for you and things get better, they generally get at least a little better over time, just by the fact that time in passing. In drumcorp this summer, I played mellophone (very little brass experience before I went in, mind you). There was another person in my mello section who was an awesome player, but a horrible marching, as she had never marched a day in her life. She coudln't hold her horn up, she kind of waddled becuase she never learned good technique (no matter how damn hard you tried to teach her) and she showed up to practice in skin tight black jeans anda black tshirt in the middle of July. Now, since I had a lot of marching experience and that's something I knew I could do, I tried to help. She absolutly refused to be helped. I just coudlnt' stand. She had the playing ability I wish I had, but man... It got unbearable somtimes. Because of her crappy attitude she got kicked out, and the fact she made the corp look bad with her horn pointing at the ground. Rah. But hey, I was paitent with her and things resolved. So I feel your pain man, best of luck.

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        1. by cuber
          (653 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: Advice for a Section Leader

          for jazz sax players everywhere who realize the futility of marching band, give it a rest. well, i guess you could call me our "section leader" but our band doesnt really do that, and as a "section leader" i realize that not everyone wants to play, and you just ignore thoes people. if marching band ever gets you anywhere, ill be the first to be surprised

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