How to Look Like a Good Section Leader

In many marching and concert bands, the section leader position automatically falls to the first chair. However, to truly excel as a good section leader, a band member must be more than the best player in his section. A section leader is charged with caring for the musical development of his section members by guiding their rehearsals and correcting any technical errors. Section leaders also bolster their section's enthusiasm and ensure all members strive for success. For an organized and qualified band member, the position of section leader is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and take on additional responsibility.


    • 1

      Set a positive example for the other members of your section. Show up promptly and fully prepared to all rehearsals, mandatory and optional. Memorize and practice your music and field directions until you are confident in your ability to perform well.

    • 2

      Organize sectional rehearsals for the members of your section to practice independent of the entire band. Make the schedule known and encourage attendance at these rehearsals. Beforehand, list objectives for every rehearsal, based on instructions from your band director and your own assessment of the section's abilities.

    • 3

      Conduct sectional rehearsals with the members of your section. Practice difficult portions of the music, correcting errors of intonation, rhythm or articulation. Walk through field directions to help your section members memorize the steps and correct placement and timing mistakes. Respond actively to the students' progress, changing rehearsal goals on an as-needed basis.

    • 4

      Identify individual problems. Certain musicians may require more help to overcome musical obstacles. Assign extra practice or organize one-on-one rehearsal time with such students to help ameliorate the issue.

    • 5

      Encourage useful habits in your section members through advice and group activities. Guide and correct musicians on proper tuning methods, appropriate playing posture and alternative fingering tricks. Offer your own practice strategies and drills to your section members as a way to help them improve as performers.

    • 6

      Demonstrate leadership by supporting section members' musical growth and creating a positive rehearsal environment. Offer constructive feedback in a friendly, noncompetitive manner. Inspire camaraderie between section members by alluding to the mutual goal of creating the best performance possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be aware of your own weaknesses and trouble areas. As section leader, you can demonstrate how to seek help effectively when you are in need.
  • Avoid yelling, negativity or excessive criticism, which may cause your section members to lose respect for you as a leader. Work instead to help the students maintain self-esteem and develop their musical talents.
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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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