March In a Section Leader’s Shoes

Section leaders take on rituals, routines and responsibilities as they navigate through band


Photo by Emily Chin

Junior and trumpet section leader Justine Sato guides her classmates through a trumpet routine.

The marching band section moves in perfect unity down to the most intricate action, blasting all the notes at an equal volume with dramatic dynamics. The credit to the level of harmony within the section goes to the section leader. The section leaders of Woodbridge High’s Entertainment Corps take on important responsibilities as they lead and help and teach their individual sections even through chaos. Sections that can be found in marching band are trumpets, clarinets, flutes, trombones, saxophones and drums.

“[Being a section leader isn’t] based on the ability to play, but based on who can socialize with everyone and have good communication skills to deal with problems within the section,” senior and clarinet section leader Min Kim said.
To lead a group of teenagers who blast their instruments louder than anyone can speak, one must have confidence and leadership qualities to take on the task of organizing these students.

“You have to find that balance where you don’t make [players] feel inferior, but you’re also letting them know what we should be doing at that moment,” junior and flute section leader Erica Jean said.

Along with communication skills, a section leader must be punctual and ready to commit several hours to rehearsals and helping other band members.

“Every morning we have a one hour rehearsal, and then on Wednesdays we have a three hour rehearsal after school and every week we have a sectional, which is one hour,” junior and trumpet section leader Justine Sato said.

Though these leaders manage tasks to ensure success in their respective section, the last thing they want to do is to make themselves look superior to others in their section.

“It’s not about power, it’s about having a higher voice during chaotic situations,” Kim said. “We are more like this catalyst to making the experience more fun.”
In the end, section leaders ultimately want to learn from their own mistakes to help the many sectors of the band to be able to march together.
“I have this feeling that they’re my kids and they are doing something, and I feel proud of them,” Kim said.