Section leaders????

Section leaders, yes or no??

  • Total voters


Active Member
Just wondered about others opinion on the subject of section leaders. There is one particular person in our band who is in favour of them (you know who you are). I on the other hand am completely against them, and I must say that if someone tried to be my section leader and started giving orders, they would be more than liable to get punched!!!

As far as I am concerned, we are all in a band together as a team and that's how it should stay. From the 'weakest' player to the 'strongest', it shouldn't matter. If they are good enough to be in the band, they should be respected as such and not looked down upon as being somehow inferior. In fact, if they do fall into the 'weaker player' category, then they should be encouraged all the more. To illustrate the point, in the percussion section in our band, there are 3 of us. Myself and two young ladies (one of whom is 15years younger than me - that makes me feel so old!!). I know that both of these young ladies feel somehow inferior to me and I'm told that there have been some less than complimentary looks and words if I'm not at rehearsal for whatever reason. Now, these haven't been serious enough to warrant a word with the MD (as far as I know), but I am still keen to stop it from happening. Just because they are both younger than me, doesn't mean they have any more or less right than I do in the band. Yes, I have been playing longer than them (longer than one has been alive in fact!), but they are BOTH there on merit and as far as I'm concerned that's all that matters. If they struggle with a part, I'll try my best to help, and I'd like to think that if I was in the same position, they'd do the same.

So, now I've illustrated my point, what does everyone feel about section leaders? Shouldn't all members of the band help all the others and not be section specific???

B. Puss esq


Just the percussion section you're talking about? We have an official section leader, but his section is also all female apart from him, he decides who plays which parts depending on how good they are on the instruments (neither of them are trained percussionists, they're both string players) actually thinking about it there are 4 string players in the band, 2 baritones and 2 percussionists sorry off topic i can't remember what i was talking about and its hard to type... i'm just a little bit tipsy......


Well-Known Member
Eh? Not quite sure what you're driving at, Senor Puss; surely every band has several section leaders - Principal Cornet, Solo Euph, etc..., each of whom as presumably the best exponent of their instrument in their band will sometimes have instrument-specific advice to offer.

Was this related to your point?! Perhaps I'm just being dense, but I can't work out your angle at all. :dunno



I know myself and Msr Sac Chat have at some time in the past discussed this topic, and I'm not in favour of them. I try to offer any helpful advice to bring the other players in the section on a bit so that the whole section improves. But at the same time I don't want to appear to be in charge of the section because I'm not or be condescending. Just me trying to be helpful.

At the end of the day the others in the section would tell you to get lost if they didn't want any help wouldn't they?????

And it is also very important not to lose sight of the fact that we are still a team all the way!!!!!


Active Member
MoominDave said:
Was this related to your point?! Perhaps I'm just being dense, but I can't work out your angle at all. :dunno

Yeah, sort of. I know every band has figureheads on the solo or first position in each section (solo cornet, euph etc.etc.etc), but their opinion is not neccessarily any more valid than that of others in the band. What I was getting at is that there are people who think that a section leader (one person in the section who effectively gives the orders) is a good thing, and consequently, some members of the band may feel ostracised (big word, probably misspelt!!) and discouraged even. I personally feel that although there are people in the 'principal' seats in each section, they are no more of a section leader than the person sitting 4th or 5th or 6th man down etc. etc.

Hope I've made it clearer (probably clear as mud now!!)

B. Puss esq


Well-Known Member
Yeah, I think I've got it now...

So it's basically a matter of degree - somewhere between the Capitalist and Communist section dystopias lies a happy medium... In less poncy language, it's not good when someone bosses people around excessively, but I also think that it's not good when the least informed opinion has as much account taken of it as the most informed one; there are few things more annoying in a band than a musically weak player with delusions of grandeur who keeps making bad suggestions in rehearsals (note: we have none of these in Kidlington, if anyone is wondering). Simply put, a principal player is far more likely to have worthwhile advice to give than a lower player. Which is not to say that the 2nd player's thoughts should always be subsidiary to those of the 1st player, but that if they are regularly more worthwhile, then perhaps those two players should change seats.

Am I the one being confusing now?



I think that there a good idea but they shouldn't really exercise their authority. In fact they should only be there for morale and stuff like that.

well thats my opinion on the matter.

Roger Thorne

Active Member
Edit: Due to a double thread posting by bagpuss this post by Mike Saville has been moved into this thread. (Good job there's a section leader on hand to sort it eh!!)

Mike Saville said:
You do need people to lead each section, to play as a unit you need to decide as a section how to do this and a leader can be useful in making these decisions. Often the best or most respected player is the section leader and will offer advice to others on how they would like the section to play.

However, this is not always the case. Better players will know how to encourage others, give advice and tips to help get the best results from thier section. They will also realise that you do not need to play the top part to do this. Each and every player in a band is important and every part needs to be played well to get the best results. Good leaders will help you do this, irrespective of which part they play. Those not so able in my experience are more likely to look down on other players :(

As for helping other sections I agree with this but I do think you should concentrate on your own section first.

Just my thoughts.


Active Member
Roger Thorne said:
Edit: Due to a double thread posting by bagpuss this post has been moved into this thread. (Good job there's a section leader on hand to sort it eh!!)

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit Mr. Thorne!!!!!

And diarrhoea is the sloppiest form...........never mind!!!

Wel at my Youth Band, we have section leaders but, they're not like dictating to everybody what they should or shouldn't do.

In my youth band's situation they are for:- dividing up parts especially when there are 4 Euphs, helping those who can't play certain things, covering parts etc. just general leadership, but i feel (as a section leader) that i'm not a leader because i quite often ask Jonford to help me divide parts an when it comes to testpieces, we will share solos and things and help other euphs out.
The key role though is organisation at concerts an contests etc., for example we don't keep our uniforms so it's up to me to make sure everyone's uniform is back in the suit carrier on the hanger, making sure people have the right uniform, setting up the stage, making sure people have enough chairs whilst others are helping with percussion.

However i do think they are necessary expecially in my situation, but in a senior band i don't thnik they are necessary because it's each to their own in my band!


Some people can take to authority, others cant. I am a poor receiver of criticism unless it is constructive. However, I appreciate that all flocks must have a shepherd in this big bad world and to suggest that band sections should not have a section leader is rubbish.

The MD has enough to do from note bashing to putting his interpretation into the music. Section leaders assist by organising the section and, to a certain extent, that role is delegated to them by the MD. By doing so, the MD has more time to spend on other matters which are best for (s)he only to deal with, (like conducting!)

Bagpuss' comment smacks to me that she just cant accept authority unless it is the MD, (I may be way off here!!), and I have to say your comments aren't quite as convincing as those given by the Iraqi Minister of Information.Perhaps I am biased, being a section leader. However, I haven't always been there and I learnt somuch from strong section leaders who organised their section into a unit. You have to respect the leader otherwise it wont work.

Further, sometimes the section leader may have to give a rollocking to the players but equally should give praise for goos teamwork. Headstrong leaders dont generally succeed but those willing to hear comments with an open mind do. Even so, decisions have to be made and, in my opinion, where there is argument it should be dcided by the section leader.

Just my thoughts



As solohorn in my band I consider myself section leader, I don't however expect to boss my section around and tell them what to do. (Anyone who knows me can disagree, I know I'm bossy!!) I see my role as helping the team to work to it's full potential. There are members of my section who aren't on their first instrument and sometimes need some guidence, I hope that I can help with that. I also feel that sometimes a section needs one voice and that's often mine (not always, my second horn is very good on dynamics!!!!) Overall I feel it's a team effort, if I can help my team with anything then I'm happy. I also appreciate the fact that my section look after me at contests or when I'm doing solos, because sometimes I could walk on stage without my horn 'cos of nerves!!!! :? :? :? They also carry me off or catch me when I've had an asthma attack!!! :D


Active Member
I think there seems to be some confusion here over two possible definitions of the term "section leader"

Correct me if i'm wrong Mr Puss, but youre talking about not liking the idea of one person in a section being "in charge" of the others like a supervisor or something who, incedentally are not always the best at the job, just the best at organising others.

I think that the fact that the principal player in any section is also called "section leader" it's what's making this thread a tad confusing.

Or have I just confused it even more? :?


Active Member
i think it really depends on the player. for example, an inspirational player would make an excellent leader, giving tips and generally inspiring, a bad leader though would just bring hate etc.

I think section leaders are a necesessity, even if it is only to make a few difficult decisions. life always has natural leaders, and they may not be sat on the end.

personally though, i try to give some advice, but how can you say your 5th position is always sharp without sounding condescending? you must use the section leader! anyway, that's my view.


Active Member
We have one at the front of the band. Mind you he's not much good, all he does is stand there and wave this white thing around, funny really cause I still haven't seen his dog! :D :wink:

To be honest though I think section leaders in a brass band are a bit redundant, everyone knows what needs to be done (there are only 30 of us not tons of screeching backstabbin string/woodwind players :D ) and if they don't they should look to the conductor.

The only time I can think of that "section leaders" are of any use are when do sectional rehearsals.


Staff member
As Mike said, I think section leaders can make a difference in the way a band sounds. Certainly I feel a bass section is much more effective if there is a good top EEb who can watch out for any sloppiness in articulation etc and pull things together. We have been hampered in this respect since our top EEb had a stroke last year - although there are two other players, neither would class themselves as a leader, and it is virtually impossible to lead from the bottom of the section.

We have also found a difference in our trombone section since one player took time out because of other commitments - although there are competent players covering the parts, it is missing that extra something that he used to bring. With percussion things can get complicated when it is a question of allocating the parts, and it is important that everyone feels they are given a fair crack of the whip - or side drum, tam-tam etc!

Another point, though, is that the leader of the section certainly does not need to hog the limelight and collar all the solos. I know the dance band situation is slightly different, but there the lead trumpet will generally be there to lead the section, whilst 2nd tends to get much of the solo work - why shouldn't it be like that in a brass band?

Above all, though, a leader should be sensitive to the others in the section - if they are too domineering that can be counter-productive. Encouragement and guidance will be much more effective than being over-critical.

Phil Green

Supporting Member
Personally I think that section principals should act as section leaders.
There are two reasons for this.
1. the section principal is generally the finest exponent of the instrument in the band and can pass on help, tips and generally keep things like tuning, articulation and, as Peter said, general sloppiness down to a minimum.
2. to ensure that the character of the section within the band stays the same regardless of who's playing in it.

For example in my band we strive to make a sound, a certain sound and there's a certain way of playing to do that. I have responsibility to make sure the basses play in a certain way, have a correct balance within the section and produce the quality (and quantity) of sound required to match the others. I'm very lucky that the top BBb has a good brain and rarely needs any help from me as he knows as well as I do what we're trying to achieve and how to do it but, when push comes to shove, one person needs to decide - should that be one on a part?, pedal there? double that note?, vib(!)?, watch the conductor(!!!)? etc and if there's a disagreement my vote wins (it's rarely needed). I know that our trombones and euphs operate similar rules within their sections. It's also an implied responsibility that all the basses can play their parts (they always can), are well behaved (WE seldom are!) and it's me who gets it in the neck from the committee and other section leaders if the section messes up, or even a solo goes wrong within the section.
This all allows the MD to concentrate on getting the music out of the band as, in other words, we turn up as a unit that can do the job required and it's me that has to make sure that happens.
Now Fodens is probably an extreme example to use but I know that other "top"(!) bands have exactly the same setup (at least in the basses).



section leaders are a tricky thing in the percussion section. From experience in a number of different bands, people have elected themselves leader because they have been there longest/think they are the best player/are control freaks.
Currently I seem to unofficially be section leader in my current band, but solely because i am the only one who turns up to all the rehearsals! however, there is no associated glamour with the job, we share the parts equally so everyone gets a chance to shine, hit whatever they like and do their fair share of boring 1- note- a- piece playing. What it does seem to entail is being the mug who sorts out all the gear, packs it, unpacks it, is responsible if something is missing, looks after the music and generally get it in the neck if anything goes wrong.....a great job I am sure you will agree!

Naomi McFadyen

New Member
you need section leaders... that's why there's Principal Cornet/Euph etc...
But, of course, the conductor is the section leader. Anything in rehearsals needs to go to he or she... the principal of each section can help and advise as and when; but whether people listen to their advice can be another matter!

As with percussion, I like to think the section is a team, but you need someone to boss the band around when it comes to lifting gear before concerts and contests! :lol: ;-)


Active Member
Phil Green said:
Personally I think that section principals should act as section leaders.
There are two reasons for this.
1. the section principal is generally the finest exponent of the instrument in the band and can pass on help, tips and generally keep things like tuning, articulation and, as Peter said, general sloppiness down to a minimum.
2. to ensure that the character of the section within the band stays the same regardless of who's playing in it.

Agreed. Good conductors know a great deal (!) but should trust the judgement and experience of their top players. I'll trust my principal cornet to sort out 'who plays what' on divisi parts, for example, and to share the workload evenly amongst the team so that everyone is kept busy. He'll address matters of balance and tuning and if someone is misreading a passage he will generally try to get there before I do! Similarly the top percussionist will decide on the stage layout, whether we need to take the vibraphone to a gig, the allocation of parts, the choice of sticks etc. etc. I'll never have the insider's understanding of the basses' fourth valve or the bass trombonist's permutations of slides and plugs...

This saves so much time in rehearsal, and as conductor I have more important things to be dealing with.

Example: it's a player's responsibility to play in tune. If a problem isn't quickly remedied the section leader should help to sort it out. If I have to stop to spend valuable rehearsal time dealing with it we've failed as a team and the consequence is 5 minutes of time wasted for the majority of the band. This breaks the flow of the rehearsal and can be highly demotivating...not really what people come to band for!


Product tMP members are discussing