Who's chair is it?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Goodnight Irene, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. Goodnight Irene

    Goodnight Irene New Member

    How should a conductor or band decide on who should sit where and do other members think that they are sitting according to their capabilities or perhaps they see themselves as being better than the principle in that section?
  2. I think they should probably be arranged by technical ability, so that if you have a difficult solo or duet, the players near the top end can play it and the tutti players can take a rest.

    But technical ability doesn't always mean that a player sounds better than someone who is less able. On pieces where less technical ability is required, and everyone is capable of playing it, you might have a situation where the tutti players sound better than the top players and add a valuable sense of style to the piece.

    Caveat: I have no experience in this, except my own thoughts.
  3. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Got to be up to the conductor. He's the musical director, and where people sit is part of that.
  4. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    It may not just be to do with techincal ability. You may have a better player in a tutti seat due to the fact they have limited attendance. You may have a player given the chance to improve by being given a promotion. You may have better technical players in support positions to improve a section for the overall strength/sound of the band. It's the choice of the MD in all circumstances.
  5. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    So here's a question! Your band doesn't have a vacancy but a really god player expresses an interest in joining and is a better player than those you have. Now what? Upset a current member or turn away somebody that could help improve the band. In theory it should be up to the MD but do you want to risk unrest around the band. I speak from experience here where something similar was discussed but not confirmed as happening and the mear fact that it was being considered caused some significant problems whereby gaining one brilliant player would have led to loosing two or three not so good.
  6. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    This is a tricky one! As a conductor I've been involved in bands where moving players has been down to the committee and in others where it's been totally down to me. I must say though, even when the committee have been responsible for actually speaking to the players involved, the decision on where players sit has always been down to the MD - at least that way people shouldn't be able to argue with the logic behind the decision!

    With both these approaches I've never had any problems (except for one occasion!) but it can be very tricky to approach these situations, particularly when they involve a new player joining the band!

    Sometimes problems with player moves are unaviodable, but the most important thing has to be open and upfront discussion with the player(s) involved as soon as the situation arises to tackle any politics before it comes to the fore!
  7. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I don't think there is one answer to this, some playing decisions will be straight down to the MD, others will be with consultation of the committee, section leader or the band depending on how delicate the situation is. What's sometimes difficult is remaining impartial, seeing the bigger picture and basing decisions on the overall 'good of the band'. Besides, you don't always have to sit in the principal seat to lead a section, but that could be a whole different thread...............
  8. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    It's not just playing ability (although that's a big part of it, especially the higher up you go) but commitment too, doesn't matter how good you are if you're not there!
  9. Another reason for positioning players could be personalities. You don't particularly want 2 people next to each other who argue; and conversely, if you have 2 people who get on well, allowing them to share a stand might result in better music from both of them.

    And then you have egos. As Goodnight Irene says, you may have players who think they are better or worse than they are. I was 3rd solo cornet out of 6 on the front row. But the 4th solo cornet was the better player technically. I offered to swap several times, but she is very modest ad refused. So for a while, we were in the wrong positions. Eventually the MD swapped us over.

    But I think the front row should work as a team. In my other band, the front row shares out the solos according to what we are best at. You cant expect the principal to be best at every style of music.
  10. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Or more talking too each other and less listening to the conductor.
  11. Goodnight Irene

    Goodnight Irene New Member

    I have a crush on my conductor so always listen to him!
  12. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I take it you'll sit anywhere for him then :rolleyes:
  13. Isabella

    Isabella New Member

    It does help to have something nice to focus on especially if the music is sometimes a bit grim:D
  14. Goodnight Irene

    Goodnight Irene New Member

    You bet!;)
  15. Goodnight Irene

    Goodnight Irene New Member

    Hadn't thought of that, I do sit a gaze when I have bars rest though!:oops:
  16. Daisy Duck

    Daisy Duck Member

    The politics of who sits where... a tricky one! I've never officially been told where to sit at brass band. When I turned up for my first rehearsal, I was told to sit on 2nd cornet and see how I was there. A few months later, the Rep player left and someone suggested that I play Rep. Nothing official!

    I'm happy to sit wherever I'm told though - whatever is best for the band! (Having said that, I would also like to make it clear that I LOVE sitting on rep - best part in the cornet section I think!).
  17. Ffion Flugel

    Ffion Flugel Member

    I'd agree with that ... if you really have to play a cornet!!! I know it's unavoidable sometimes.
  18. you find out who has the ability to play where, but ideally you want a strong player on every part, then all parts are covered, if you have your 2 weakest cornets playing 3rd cornet then its a wasted part isn't it, i think its too much of a complex question to be asked, and there's too many answers, maybe there ain't a right or wrong answer, as long as everyone's happy then what else matters?!
  19. JohnnyEuph

    JohnnyEuph Member

    From my experience the problems are usually centred around the Cornet section, as it is the one that is likely to have the highest mix of abilities, ages, attitudes, egos, ambitions.

    This is usually the section that causes the MD/Commitee the most headaches.
    Many young aspiring Cornet players expect to join a band and work their way up the section. Usually they are reassure of this by the MD and other band members when they join the band.
    Invariably there comes a point in a player's improvement where they start to eclipse the person sat next to them. Then they start to think in their own mind that maybe they should be sat where that player is, and others in the band notice this and give the player self belief - this competitive attitude is what drives ambitious players to improve. What if that player sat next to them also has a wealth of experience but does not have the stamina or sound of the up and coming player sat next to them (who wants their seat), but lets say this more experienced player also has a position of responsibility in the running of the band. And is indignant to the possibility of what they would see as a demotion and dented pride. (ie, if you demote me i wont play and wont help you run the band)

    More often than not, this is a situation that happens on the Cornet Bench.

    What does an MD do?
    Risk losing the inexperienced ambitious and up and coming player who may seek what they want in another band - at the loss of the progress of your own?

    Risk losing the indignant experienced player who is pride entrenched and is in a position to blackmail the band, and who after all these years is also a great friend of many in the band?

    ---this example is hypothetical, but is a typical example of the politics of player positioning, and makes for a very tricky job for the MD/,+, (whatever) Commitee.

    Add to this players who think they are better than they are, players who are better than they think they are etc, little doris on 3rd horn who has played in the band all her life and its 'all shes got since her fella popped it', and what you have is a potential emotional minefield that can destroy a band if you open a can of worms that you can't deal with.

    It is not clear cut. In an ideal world the 'best' players would all be sat in their relevent seats. And, if you've got the money to do this then great.

    Usually though, this is not the case. usally because of similar things to what I have just mentioned.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2006
  20. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    Just one example of people sat in certain seats according to technical ability.

    One rule of thumb a conductor I used to play under used to use was that he always had his best or second best cornet player sat on the Rep Seat and not on bumper up as the rep seat he felt was as important as the principal Cornet seat. I know every seat in the band is as important as the next but as far as the cornet section goes and with regards to the general way the parts are scored for cornets he felt this was the best setup within a band

    I hope this makes sense

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