Leadership

Once again, I am finishing a post over a week after starting it, so I don’t remember everything that happened. Anyway, last Monday, the 24th, I had my interview for marching band section leader. It was a little longer than I expected it to be, and to be honest, I’m not sure how it went overall. I had a good bit of conversation with the band directors, especially Mr. P, and was given several compliments on my playing and character as well as constructive criticism about how I could be a better leader. But at the same time, my decision regarding wind ensemble came up, and while I may have been misinterpreting what he was telling me regarding leadership and loyalty to the band, it felt to me like my decision was a reason to not consider me for a position like section leader.

To elaborate, I joined wind ensemble this semester and went to the first two rehearsals before learning that the wind ensemble concert was at the exact same time as the final orchestra concert of the year (the one with Shostakovich 5). It was a hard decision, because I really wanted to play in wind ensemble, especially considering the pieces they’re performing, but I decided that I would regret not doing orchestra more and dropped out of wind ensemble for the remainder of the semester. I wrote more about that whole mess here.

So going into the section leader interview, that was probably the single thing I didn’t want to talk about, but it came up. Mr. P proceeded to go into a mini-lecture about how important it is to be involved if you are or expect to be a leader. Likening the band to the family (which it really is, although not biologically), he made some very valid points about how you cannot be a leader without being present and active within the ensemble. At one point, he asked me who I would choose as a section leader, someone who was devoted to the orchestra, or someone who was devoted to the band. Another time, he made a comment about he regretted not being able to take me to some of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games. While I couldn’t have gone if I had wanted to because of chemistry lab on Friday afternoons, if I was able I would have signed myself up. I wouldn’t have any expectation of actually being picked to go, as the band is limited and they understandably favor upperclassmen, but I would have liked to go.

Anyway, I may have been misunderstanding what he was trying to tell me, but it felt to me that he didn’t think I was as devoted to the band as he would like. I would say that orchestra is my highest priority as far as music ensembles go. If I could only participate in one group, it would be the one I would choose over band, wind ensemble or anything else. However, I do not feel that this priority means that I cannot be committed to the band as well, and I think that is why I was so confused with what Mr. P said in the interview.

During football season, I went to both away football games that we took a band to. I didn’t miss a single rehearsal, although I did need to leave two early for orchestra dress rehearsals (orchestra takes priority for me). Even though I am not a basketball fan, I’ve played with the basketball band a number of times since November, anytime there is a weekend game. I’ll get into the games with everyone else, but I am primarily there because of band, and most likely wouldn’t have gone to any if there wasn’t a band to be in. I’ve also gone to things like the high brass spring training. Though not “official,” I went to almost all of the horn section dinners, and still spend a good bit of time with them when I have the chance to. Marching band was my first second family in college, and I identify very strongly with it even after only one marching season.

So I’m still not sure about the outcome of the interview. Talking to my parents about it, they said that I have simply misunderstood Mr. P when he was trying to explain the kind of commitment that is expected from a leader in the band, which I could see. Or perhaps he didn’t realize that I was there for x number of basketball games, or whatever. Above all, I hope that my decision to pick orchestra did truly damage my chances at becoming a section leader. I wouldn’t change my decision knowing what I do now, but it would be great to be a section leader. Whether I get picked as a section leader or not, I’m going to stay in the band and enjoy it, trying to lead by example even if I don’t have a formal role. We’ll just need to wait and see.

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