I have this problem which has been bothering me since the beginning of the semester. I am principal flute in my ensemble, but I'm also playing piccolo on most pieces. The problem is, the other flutes (who have very strong personalities) in my section just don't get it--despite the fact that it read "principal" beside my name on the last program. They keep on playing along with me on the solos and saying things like: "I claim this solo!" when a new piece of music is handed out. I've tried to make it somewhat clear, thinking they would catch on. I even got the director to re-announce the seating order.
Anyway! I am looking for advice. Besides musical leadership, (like always counting rests and having solid intonation) what, in your opinion, makes a good section leader who people can respect? I think my section views me as someone they can push around because I try to be nice to them. Should I just be firm/mean and deal with it?
As a section leader it's your job to make sure your section is playing well and behaving well. You didn't get there by doing what they're doing. If you need to be stern, be stern and if they don't listen, let your band director know. I know in my flute section, if I were behaving like them, then my section leaders would not be happy with me. I hope your situation gets better.
Also, this is so evil: but when I had this problem I had a sure-fire cure for it. I practiced. A LOT. I made sure that no one could ever out-play me. Often I found that I was the only person in the section who could sightread anything above eighth notes (sad, I know), and my tone was far better than anyone else in the section. If someone played a solo along with me, I would let them do it a couple of times just for fun (maybe they didn't even realize it was a solo), and on the third time or so I would say something like "I appreciate you guys playing along with me, but since I will be playing this alone at the performance I would appreciate being able to focus on my own playing." If it persisted, I would talk to the director about it-- calling attention to the fact that it was distracting, not that it offended me.
If they keep "claiming" solos, I would just say, "Haha- you're so funny, guys." Chances are, they might just be trying to get your goat. Hopefully they won't try to play along with you at the concert!
Our youth orchestra has now exactly the same situation as your orchestra! This is something I can't understand: Why a Piccoloist can be a section leader? How can a piccoloist lead 4-6 flutists?
(In a normal orchestra, flute principal never plays piccolo.)
The guy on my left is a section leader, but the conductor asked him to play piccolo most of the time, and I play flute 1 and flute solo. But the seating I'm only 1st flute next to him, and in concert programmes, his name got this little "+" on top = flute section leader. Very strange! It doesn't make me feel good.
For solo part, only one guy plays the solo, if your assistance flutist plays your solo too, complain to your conductor!
Last year, I was principal flutist in another youth orchestra, when I played solo part, this guy on my right (1st flute) always played my solo together with me, and many time he cracked, bad-intonation, and louder than me in piano, and spoiled my solos, I was very nice to him, and asked him not to play the solo part, but no use, he just kept on playing my solo. I didn't want to complain, and the conductor said nothing, then I left the orchestra and join another.
Yeah, I was surprised my conductor let it happen without intervene. I guess the conductors are testing our leadership abilities. But I'm not that kind of person to complain or to force my assistance to stop playing my solos.
I asked politely, but he didn't listen, again and again, I was hoping the conductor would stop him, but didn't. sigh... I quit
If the person isn't listening and it comes down to it, it may be good to simply raise your hand (Just after the solo and when ensemble has been stopped) and respectfully say, In the flute part at measure #whatever it says "solo". Who does the conductor want to play this flute solo?
As Principal Flute in a college orchestra, I normally play the first part and all the solos. We have never had issues where the other flutists play my solos, it just doesn't happen. I also decide what parts the other 3 flutists should play and inform the conductor of this.
However, since this IS a college orchestra, and a learning experience for all (especially the younger students) we sometimes swap parts so that the other 3 get chances to play first on the minor works (e.g. a student/teacher composition, or an overture), while I play first on the major work (e.g. a symphony) of the concert. Also, if there is a gig I don't want to play (e.g. we travel out of town for concerts sometimes) then I send the other flutists.
I am also the one who advises the others on interpretation and how to play together as a section.
You don't understand, Youth orchestra world is different from Adult orchestra or professional orchestra world, you don't complain them or ask the director directly who plays the solo. You will make them lose face in front of the orchestra people, also their parents face, and their flute teacher's face. Unlike internet people, the music world is much smaller locally, these people can get to you, and block your way to your future opportunities. Music world is sometimes very corrupt.
My assistance's parents are very rich, and his teacher is one of the professors teaching at local conservatory, my teacher is another professor at the conservatory. This kid is younger than me, but he studies officially at the conservatory, I study at secondary school, and unofficially with a senior flute professor of conservatory. So maybe one day this kid could give me a chance in the music world, or block my way. I quit that orchestra, he was happy, his mother was happy, we are sort of friends now. lol.
Thanks for the replies everyone. The situation is getting a little better, but I'm the only one consistently at rehearsals, so I don't know what the dynamics will be like when all the "problem" people show up at once! lol.
I was told by another woodwind player that they don't think it's fair for me to play the flute solos on pieces that I double on piccolo. I didn't ask to be put on principal while playing picc--but that's what happened. I feel it is my provide and responsibility to play those solos. What do you think? What does "fair" mean to you all in a situation like that?
Anna, I am in a new youth orchestra with exact situation as your college orchestra, and I am the flutist next to the picc/flute section leader. This situation is so awkard for all of us too, we don't understand why a picc/flute player can be a principal and plays all the picc and flute solos!
I didn't play his flute solos along with him, but he has let me play most of the flute solos now (he plays picc most of the time).