Who’s on first?

Okay, I’m pissed. Today’s band rehearsal really had me seeing red. We had auditions for seating in the college Symphonic Band and for Wind Ensemble  a few weeks ago and, after today’s rehearsal, who got what is really ticking me off. I didn’t audition for 1st chair because I expected that Manny, the fellow who played first last semester, would stay on at 1st this semester since it’s his last semester and he did fine with it last semester.  It just seemed like the right thing to do. (Not that I had any expectations of getting 1st anyway though I did play 1st last semester in Orchestra and I did fine with Beethoven 2nd.)  But I would have thrown my hat in the ring and auditioned for 1st chair if I thought for a minute that someone other than Manny would get the position.

Now all that being said, the guy who got 1st plays okay but I don’t see much difference between him and the other three of us. Supposedly he has a great sound but that was not evident today. And we all have our good points and our bad points. However, he is a freshman and he is very immature. He has no business leading a section regardless of how well he plays. Today he spent the entire rehearsal texting and he didn’t listen to anything the conductor said. That’s what really pushed me over the edge. To be given the privilege and responsibility of leading a section and then behave like he could care less about it is inexcusable.  He also was forced into holding a sectional (he clearly didn’t want to do it) and he picked a time where I had to hang around for 3 hours before we started. Okay, sometimes it’s very hard to find a time that works for everyone. What got me angry was that our sectional lasted less than 15 minutes and was a complete waste of time.

On to me getting 4th chair. So far we have first filled and the guy who should have gotten first is playing second. Who’s on third? Some kid who didn’t even audition and isn’t a music major and who hasn’t played his horn for eight months and who has the most god awful embouchure I have ever seen. I know I told the band director before the auditions that I was okay playing 4th (he asked what I wanted to play) but I also said to him that he should put me where I fit playing wise. To me that sentence meant that if there are three horn players who are better than me then I should get 4th. It didn’t mean put the guy you have never heard play and who doesn’t care at all what chair he plays on 3rd and put me on 4th. It’s going to be a really long semester in band. Why I didn’t take orchestra this semester (big mistake) will be the subject of the my next blog.

6 thoughts on “Who’s on first?

  1. Tina

    I am also in band (and orchestra) and in band we are doing Ghost Train and ElCamino Real, both Great pieces. They stuck me on 2nd as the 3rd&4th folks don’t show up regularly and the guy on first is a 3rd year music major and has been playing since he was in daipers, or so it seems.

    Check out Ghost Train by Eric Whitacre on You Tube and his virtual choir, if you don’t know them-AMAZING music. Also check The Witch and The Saint



  2. Hi Tina! I have a similar story! I agreed to help out a community orchestra in need of horns. They rehearse the same night as the band I have played in for 3 years, so I said I would come to 3 rehearsals and the concert. The conductor said that since I couldn’t come to more rehearsals he’s putting me on 4th. That was fine with me, I like 4th. He hadn’t found a 3rd yet, but when I came to rehearsal the 3rd horn is a very nice man who just picked up his horn a couple weeks ago after not playing for years. It’s not my group, I don’t care, …


    • Hi Becky! I like 4th too but somehow I feel like I got shafted which makes 4th a whole lot less fun. At least it wasn’t your group. I’m stuck listening to the 3rd’s bell and reminded about the seating at every note.


  3. Hello! I just found your blog tonight through IHS linkage. Coolness. There seems to be a blog for everyone. I found this post of interest because I also took up the horn again six months ago after two decades layoff. I started sitting in with the CalTech concert band a few months ago. Initially the director had me on forth but soon after that changed to first. There are some subtle tensions in the section regarding who is playing what part. I really don’t care what part I’m playing. Simple or difficult, I’ll do my best to play whatever’s in front of me as well as I can. Besides, it’s up to the director to decide who does what in this sort of ensemble, imho.


    • Thanks for writing! I agree in principle with what you are saying and if the band director made rational decisions that would be fine. I personally like 4th assuming that the players on the other chairs are competent. The guy on 3rd is learning but isn’t really ready for 3rd. The band director apologized to me the other day (amazingly) and said he had ‘buyer’s remorse’ about the seating arrangement. The first horn plays okay but doesn’t have a clue about leading a section. We’ll all deal with the semester as it is but I’m going to fight for first for the fall semester. If I lose legitimately that’s fine with me.


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