I'm quite aware that being in first chair makes you both the leader and makes you known to be the best player in the Orchestra. But at the same time can even someone in first chair be at times confused and ask for help? I mean after all they are human like everyone else.


No way, they're human?

Seriously... of course the voice leaders aren't infallible. Indeed they're not even necessarily the best players in the orchestra (how would you objectively determine that anyway?), they're just the ones who have been trusted with the most responsibility. That means, a first chair should certainly make sure to have an idea how to play everything by the first rehearsals (and of course actually be able to play it themselves), but they needn't – and IMO shouldn't – be the all-deciding imperators of their section. They should always be open to suggestions from the back rows as to how e.g. some bow patterns could be improved, and of course they may ask the conductor, the concertmaster, other voice leaders or even their “subordinates” for advice. (The conductor and other voices mostly on musical questions, the fellow players in the section more likely on technical details – may happen especially if some piece uses an unusual playing technique that the leader doesn't have much experience with, but somebody else in the section is more expert in.)

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As the section leader, you are the one making the calls. For making the calls, you need to make best use of the information available for you. If the experience of the other players is unavailable to you because of your leadership stance, you are cutting yourself off from a lot of knowledge.

Now as a leader are expected to get the job done quickly and efficiently. That means even while you should invite information, you should not invite discussion. This is not a democratic decision making process, and there is no time for that, not in rehearsal (unless we are talking about a section rehearsal). That also requires discipline on behalf of the section members: they need to provide information only when it is likely to be part of a solution.

Since good working leadership on the spot without degrading to discussion and strange social dynamics is tricky, when you can provide good solutions promptly on your own, that helps keeping things simple. So it's usually a time (and hierarchy) saver when the section leader is indeed one who has a lot of experience to draw from.

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Simply because you are first chair, it doesn't mean you can't ask for help. Yes, you show the example but think about it, if you don't know something, others may not either. Although you set an example, don't be afraid to ask for help. I know this because i myself am a first chair and i don't always know everything. Sometimes I am ahead of everyone else, therefore setting an example, but also we are human beings also and don't know everything.

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