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 Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-25 01:12

Hi, I am usually not the one to bring something up but this situation has been on going for a while and I just need to get it off my chest. Last year I was placed in a group as 4th while my fellow friend was 9th, she was rather upset with me and didn't talk to me for a while, when as a friend she should have been congratulating me. She did not make it in to our orchestra and was upset but we vowed to make it together next year. Well this year comes around, and im 4th again and she doesn't make orchestra, which stirred up drama in the section, which I wanted no part of, I really did feel bad but she had some pretty nasty and hurtful comments to say about me. Well a week before our concert the switch out chairs so I was moved from 4th to 6th, and the conductor said they did it so the 2nd clarinets could "hear" me better, when my teacher asked me what happened she said she was told I played too loud, when the conductor never said so. I think the girl who is now 4th told her or someone else (9 out of the 12 of us take lessons from the same teacher) that I played too loud. It just bugs me because I fear being moved will now prohibit the chances of me being on first part next year, and I work so hard. The conductor was firm on the decision but last year me being 4th was fine but im significantly better now. This doesn't make sense, can someone help?

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-01-25 01:30

Don't waste time and energy on this. It's the same time and energy you need to maximize your progress with your instrument.

Chair placement is just a single candid photo judged quickly by one person whose listening priorities may differ from yours or your teacher's. Anybody can look less than their best in a particular photo, but the most 'photogenic' (best players) will end up where they belong over time.

Keep your attention on the present and the future - and what you can do TODAY to make yourself a better musician. Getting caught up in this kind of thing is as counterproductive as, while you're still sight-reading, thinking about that note you just missed.

Be polite and positive in your interactions with your peers, whether they are supportive of you or not. Avoid unnecessary engagements with those who would bring you down. This is a recipe for sane living, but it's also known as 'professionalism' and 'leadership'. It's likely that these attributes figure in advancing to the top in your music program, whether your director would say so or not. They are also far more important in being successful in what you will do in your adult life than most people realize.

Go practice!  ;)


Post Edited (2018-01-25 02:54)

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-25 02:32

thanks so much!

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2018-01-25 02:40
Attachment:  who we are.png (344k)

easier said than done, but chair order is something you should not really pay attention to. when you are in a band or an orchestra, you do whatever it takes to help the ensemble. and if people don't believe in you and put you at a lower chair, don't be mad. each musician in the ensemble is equally important. just keep practicing and striving for perfection.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-25 03:50

So, your tale really suggests two problems: one is your placement and what it means (or what the conductor means by it); two is the reaction of your friend.

To take your friend's nastiness first, to someone who doesn't know either of you it's an indicator that the friendship may be not equally strong in both directions. Its not hard to understand her anger (out of frustration and maybe embarrassment) at not making the group. It's very hard to understand why she's taking it out on you, when you had nothing to do with the decision. You'll probably be best off just leaving her alone for awhile until she calms down. If your friendship is important to her, she'll eventually make some effort to end hostilities. Don't let the reactions of any of your peers negatively affect your enthusiasm or effort in developing your own playing.

As to the reasons why you were moved down in the section, there's really only one person who can explain why that happened, and that's obviously the conductor who made the change. A conductor who finds that a player is too aggressive, too loud, especially at times when the music should be soft, has a very easy way to correct the problem - ask the player to play softer. Conductors do this all the time. If he asks to quiet down regularly and you don't do it, then he has reason to change your seat. If he never asks you during rehearsals to change your dynamic or volume, then he either doesn't have a problem it or he's failing at his job.

If the comment your teacher related to you (was it from another student? That's not cool, either for a couple of reasons.) is the first you've ever heard that the conductor thinks you play too loud, then it may not be the real issue. Maybe the conductor really did want your playing to add security to the other 2nd clarinets by putting you in the middle of them, as he told you. The only way you'll know for sure, if he's willing to answer you honestly, is to ask him. Obviously, do it in a positive and not an accusing or complaining way. You want to know what you can do to improve your chair placement, and he's the one making the placement decisions.

By the way, chair placement within a section isn't something you should waste energy worrying about. Your section, whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd, is more important and it's worth practicing to improve enough to move up to the 1st part. Try to get feedback from both your clarinet teacher and your conductor and then act on what you hear.


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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-25 04:06

Karl, i do believe it was from a student to my teacher, the conductor would not tell me one thing and not be truthful then tell my teacher something different. There are a few clarinets in the section who have jealousy issues and have ran and told my teacher false things before. it effects my lessons and my path, and to me thats not fair. but i will not let people dictate my future as a clarinet player, i wish they would mature and focus on the music and be friendly instead of being hostile towards me.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2018-01-25 04:25


I don't know if it is even remotely possible for you to do...but (in high school) I used to get together with my closest competition, and we'd play together quite often after/before school. It was a lot of fun, and it ended up pushing each of us to the head of all the honor bands, etc. It turned into a very friendly and nurturing competition. Sometimes one of us would get first, sometimes the other. We ended up attending the same university, and continued playing together outside of class - helping each other out. It really did make a difference for us, and our placements continued to be very high as a result. ( was a ton of fun!!) All these years later, I still really miss those sessions!


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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-25 05:52

J-MB wrote:

> Karl, i do believe it was from a student to my teacher, the
> conductor would not tell me one thing and not be truthful then
> tell my teacher something different.

Then, maybe he told you the honest reason for moving you. As a retired (but still active part time) student band director, I don't necessarily agree with it, but it wouldn't be the first time in history a band director arranged his players in a similar way.

> There are a few clarinets
> in the section who have jealousy issues and have ran and told
> my teacher false things before. it effects my lessons and my
> path,

How does their tale-telling affect *your* lessons or *your* path? Surely, your teacher doesn't need to have other students tell her what your strengths and weaknesses are as a clarinetist. That's what she's being paid to figure out.


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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-01-25 07:53

In the real world and in your life this is just a pin-prick. Stop worrying about trifles and concentrate on playing the best you can. Critically analyse your playing to see if there is any validity in the comments on it and correct it if necessary.

Tony F.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-26 00:26

It just is like that my volume has never been a problem in my lessons or in a band setting, thas why im confused and why it effects me.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-01-26 01:17

What's really fun to watch is when two clarinetists play and jostle for seating in the same group _and_ are married to one another! Tony and Karl gave good advice. Even with the best intentions, which isn't always the case, auditions and seating decisions are only an approximation of "fairness." It usually doesn't help you, and can be harmful to you, to talk much about them after the fact, or try to get others involved. But you can transform disappointment and hurt feelings into a determination to get good enough so that next time, there won't be any doubt about the result.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-26 05:03

I think it may be too late to do that.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-01-26 12:36

That's a decision that only you can make. Don't let a minor issue affect your life, that way you've already lost.

Tony F.

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2018-01-26 22:49


This chair issue seems to be a reoccurring theme with your posts. In the past, you have gotten advice from a plethora of players. In general, the core of that advice is to not waste time on what is, in the grand scheme of things, just a small bump in the road particularly if you want to make music your career (a recent theme of yours).

I recall your queries about being the best you can be and also how to be a good leader. How are you coming on those things? Also, I gave you some advice on getting a professional opinion on the possibility of you becoming a professional clarinetist. You did not make any further replies on that thread. Any thoughts there?

It's probably a good time now for you to take a low profile in your musical organizations, play your part as well as you can, follow your director's instructions, and enjoy yourself. Time to relax a little and not have so many thing "bug" you.


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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-27 00:17

hi hank, I have been working hard, putting more emphasis on my scales in my practice sessions, working slow on technique to make it smoother and more even, things like that. and have been leading more by example, and being more respectful. as for the professional musician thread, ive been working hard and focusing on myself to be the best I can, thanks for taking time to reply and helping me on my musical journey :)

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-01-27 05:00

I agree with everyone’s advice on not letting this sort of thing bother you. It’s absolutely true.

On the other hand, I think recognition of that sort is a big deal when you are in school. I transferred schools just before my senior year due to a move. I was the best alto sax. That may not be saying much. :^P Nonetheless, I was second alto in the Jazz band because someone had been playing first and the director didn’t want to shake things up. It didn’t bother me because I had an inferiority complex. I believed they were better than me, and I didn’t deserve it. I had to do some creative justifying to come to that conclusion, but that’s what I thought. The band director made up for it by giving me a feature piece, but it wasn’t a perfect solution. He really should have given me 1st.

This situation is different than J-MB’s, but the principle is the same. At different times we are judged, and judge ourselves, by various forms of approval and status. It gives us confidence, establishes our “resume”, and it naturally bothers us when our accomplishments are overlooked. Chair placement is kind of like a job title or salary when you are in school.

It is a signal that you are, or are not, “good enough”.
It’s a way of measuring yourself objectively, which is hard when you are less experienced.
It is an important form of status.
It can be important later (like college admissions).
It can build confidence.
It can make you a better player by giving you more responsibility and experience.
It is an needed opportunity for growth.
It teaches leadership.

Now, if you are a good player, you are good anyhow. You have to do it for it’s own sake. And, in the larger scheme of things where you sat in school is a chair in the band room. That said, I think it is important that people are recognized for their hard work and achievement. It’s not about making everyone feel special, but about doing the right thing. I suspect very few of us are totally dispassionate about what chair we hold!

I STILL feel uncomfortable claiming the first part! Maybe I wouldn’t be so timid if things had been otherwise in highschool. It could have been a very positive experience for me. It’s all irrelevant now, but more assertiveness and competitiveness, not to mention confidence, would have been a great asset in college.

J-MB, I suspect you may be worrying about it so much that it has become counter-productive, and the advice to not let it bother you is good advice. Just focus on the music and enjoying playing. Use it as motivation. I also understand why placement is important to you, and I think it does matter.

- Matthew Simington

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 Re: Chairs, and why they bug me.
Author: GBK 
Date:   2018-01-27 08:33

Quite bluntly: Suck it up and don't whine - high school band is relatively meaningless.

In the over all picture of life (and musical) experiences, high school band, for most people carried little or no weight and certainly had no bearing to later success or failure.

There will soon come much bigger challenges, both personal and academic. High school decisions will be petty by comparison.

Did we all have to make musical choices in high school? Were many of the days (weeks) in band less than pleasant? Were we scarred for life? Did we all somehow live to tell about it?

For some, like myself, high school band is just a distant memory, not because of years gone by, but through more substantial and formative musical experiences which followed.

Sometimes it is like the "can't see the forest for the trees" analogy. In a few years, when firmly entrenched in college, this seemingly major problem will be nothing more than a mild annoyance...GBK

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