Being a section leader in our ensemble can be quite a challenge, especially if your section struggles to speak English, our has several beginners.
On the flip side, you have a great opportunity to make a HUGE difference for our younger musicians and will set the tone for the ensemble for years to come.
Here are several key points to consider:
You are there to serve the people in your section, not to rule over them.
Lead by example. Not only will this let your section know what to do, but it is also a very kind method of leadership. You were most likely chosen because of your playing skills; now is your time to pass these on.
Get on friendly terms with your section. When you become friends with your section, they'll be more likely to listen to you, and you'll get a better feel of their playing ability.
Learn your music. As section leader, you're expected to know it before everyone else. If you don't know your music, how can you help others with their music?
Hold sectionals outside of class time if possible. Try the flex block once a month. Sectionals are time when your section is the focus, not the entire band. Find the difficult passages and go over them with your section. Make sure your section knows exactly what they're trying to fix; if they don't know what they're trying to fix, it probably won't get fixed.
Hold your section to their promises. If someone said they'll learn a passage by next Friday, they should have it down when that Friday comes. If they don't, ask them why they didn't, and help them find solutions.
Keep your director posted on who is working and how is not... do not discipline your peers if at all possible.
Be understanding. If someone can't make it to a sectional, assume positive intent first... don't give them grief. Tell them they were missed and that you hope they can make the next one.
Don't be afraid to have fun with your section...balance having fun with the hard work. You're still a member of your section, and your extra authority doesn't mean you can't take part in the rest of the section's festivities. In fact, spending more time with your section only makes you a better leader.
Keep your section under control. This doesn't mean order them around, but when they get out of hand, let them know. If necessary, seek help from another section leader or the music eacher. Remember, rehearsal time is limited and essential to the success of the whole group. Keep your section quiet and focused so they don't miss important instruction.
Listen to both sides of a conflict. If there's a conflict between two sides, you will probably have to be the third party to step in and solve it. If it starts to get physical, keep them apart and tell someone to get help from an adult as soon as possible. Doubt this will happen, but you never know.
Be on the same page as your co-section leader, if you have one. If you're telling your section something completely different than the other section leader, it will only confuse your section.
Remember the team. No matter what goals you may have for your section, don't lose sight of what is best for the entire ensemble. Each section must work together to achieve what is best for the entire group. Your music director's goals should take priority over your own.
Talk less, play more!
Facilitate! Get others to suggest trouble spots to work on during the sectional. Respect their opinions.
Consider rotating the counting off responsibility, or have someone else determine the rehearsal spots. Just ensure that the pacing does not get compromised.
Don't stop playing unless you know what you are going to say!
Set goals for your section with them.
Warm up with them at the beginning of rehearsal... get routines established.
Being a section leader is a privilege, not a right. Remember... with great power comes great responsibility.
WHEN WORKING ON MUSIC:
2. Starting together
3. Stopping together
4. Playing rhythms together
5. Playing dynamics and articulation together
6. Balancing the section (who plays loudest and why)
7. Playing together as a team and a group of individuals
Always warm up
Know the trouble spots before you begin the sectional
Start with something they can play well
Work on the hard stuff - use the practice sequence RPAST and the process of "Slow - Chucks - 3xs rule"
End with something they can play well.
Send your director an email of how it went after each sectional.
Most importantly, have fun and make connections!
It is all about Pacing. Pacing is the speed at which things happen in your sectional.
Keep it moving! Avoid getting bogged down with excessive talking or analysis of your playing. Find solutions and implement them.
Avoid isolating individuals for long periods of time. Know what can be done independently and what can be fixed when in the group.
Talk less... play more.