The beginning of marching season is one of the most exciting times for a band kid. Everyone is excited to learn their music and their show and bond with their band friends. But by the middle of marching season, almost everyone is physically tired from school, rehearsal, and extracurricular activities. Around this time is when problems typically start to occur, in my experience. Usually, when there are issues within a section, you go to the section leader for help first. But what if the person you're having a problem with is the section leader? Do you go to the director to make a change or do you wait for the issue to resolve itself? Is it just you or does everyone feel the same way? Is it normal for section leaders to be the main issue within a section?
By the middle of the season, there's a wide variety of conflicts that can occur. In my five years of marching band experience, the two main conflicts include some people not knowing their music and section leaders taking a more authoritative role than necessary. Although not knowing music is an important problem to be solved, it is much easier to solve than an ongoing conflict. Section leaders that become more authoritative throughout the season is a lesser-known issue that should be addressed. At the beginning of most marching seasons, the section leaders have a positive attitude and are ready to be there for anyone who may require their help. However, as the season goes on and everyone grows tired and their patience wears thin. This is the time when some section leaders have started taking matters of the section into their own hands. This sometimes consists of belittlement to some section members, yelling, unnecessary comments, and many more forms of manipulation or bullying.
In these cases, it's sometimes difficult to stand up for yourself. You could either try to talk to the person who is causing the issue, go to the band director to see if they can help, or do both. If you are experiencing a season like this, there comes a breaking point for everyone, especially if the entire section feels the same way. If the situation is not resolved then this shows that the behavior is okay for the next section leader to portray. Everyone involved in the situation needs to be reminded that the section leaders and members are peers and although the leaders are there for team guidance, it is not necessary for them to be so demanding of their peers, as it is not their job. Of course, the section leaders are there to help build and strengthen the section as a whole, not tear it down.
I think that some section leaders simply believe that they are in charge of everything regarding the section and when their section isn't living up to their standards, they begin to get angry and therefore, more authoritative and unpleasant. Since there is a wide variety of issues that may occur, there is not an exact answer to every circumstance. I do believe that the band director should at least be aware of what is going on, in case there is something that can be done to resolve the issue.
Unfortunately, unfit section leaders are a part of the band experience. On the bright side, most conflicts can be resolved by speaking with the person directly or the director. A lot of times these interactions can taint the overall experience. If something can be done it is important to do what is in your best interest. Don't let anyone ruin your band experience and go practice your music!