In one of the community bands I play in our 1st horn player takes a lot of questionable liberties. I’m not talking about how he deals with the section members, he’s a very nice guy, but he actually changes the music! (and if you are the section leader in my band and are reading my blog, I’m sorry but you might want to think about what I’m writing about.)
Our section members and other members of the band near him have complained about this behavior but I didn’t really believe them. I thought, no this can’t really be true. I usually play 4th horn but at our last rehearsal I played 2nd and I had the opportunity to hear this guy for myself. OMG, it’s true. For one thing, he adds trills to parts that don’t have them. He adds notes to melodic lines. What he did to the theme song in Evita was something to behold. Don’t Cry for me Argentina tra la la la la la la la la la. Sometimes he just doesn’t play if the part consists of off-beats. But what takes the cake – he adds melodic lines to parts with off-beats that aren’t in his part or any of the horn parts. Sometimes up to 16 measures or so.
Now it’s possible that he only does this at rehearsals but considering the complaints I’ve heard I’m 99% sure that he does this at concerts also. The seating arrangement in this band puts me directly in front of the trumpets so I’m lucky if I can hear myself play. And until this latest rehearsal I couldn’t see his music so when I did hear him play I had no way to know what was in his part. Band arrangements can be weird.
So, you might be asking, why is this guy playing first in the band? Good question. A few weeks ago our 2nd horn spoke to the conductor about this and last week the assistant 1st horn also spoke to him. Our conductor is aware of the behavior, phew. It would be a lot worse if he wasn’t. The problem is that the 1st horn has been in the band forever and he’s a founding member of the board. (Don’t we all just love the English language – we can turn inanimate objects into people.) Nothing like politics. Our conductor is a really nice guy and I think he is at a loss about what to do. All of the horns in the section are capable of playing 1st, even me, so it’s not that he doesn’t have someone to play 1st. Our assistant 1st horn is actually the best of the bunch of us.
I’m new to this band as of last January so it’s not my place to say something but I will urge our 3rd horn to speak up. I think that if we can present some solution to the conductor that lets the 1st horn save face that might work. Coming up with a solution is the kicker. Anyone have any ideas?