Most people will say that video games have absolutely no application but fun. For the most part, I'll agree with "most people." But it has recently come to my attention how much something as simple as squad leading, holds relevance to something as real as section leading. Let me show you what I mean.

What is being a good squad leader?

A good squad leader can think on their feet; they are able to make decisions on the go and stick with them. But before deciding, they make sure that the action is in accordance with commander orders carefully weigh the pros and cons (will we gain tickets, high ground, bleed?)whether consciously or unconsciously.

He/she is a proficient player, not necessarily the best, but they need to know their role and how to play it. Even if the squad leader is not the best player, they need to know the abilities of those in the squad to utilize them correctly.

A squad leader needs to get along with their squad not matter if he/she likes his/her squad mates personally. A great squad leader can put these feelings aside to play the game.

He/she needs to feel comfortable giving orders and has to accept their own authority and garner respect from their squad.

What is being a good section leader? It really is much the same.

A good section leader has to make decisions, whether it be on the field, in the band room, or on other marching band occasions. His/her decisions need to be in line with higher band leadership and need to be logical.

He/she is a proficient player, not necessarily the best, but he/she needs to be able to play their instrument, and play it well. The section leader needs to instruct others on articulation, marching technique, etc. and only a proficient (or master) player can do this.

A section leader needs to know their squad. They need to know performance levels to hand out the right parts. They need to know who is motivated, who isn't. Who is a newbie and needs a bit of extra attention, and who is on their game. They need to know how their section feels, to keep them having fun and performing well. Even if the section leader doesn't get along with everyone, they need to push past it to work for the good of the section.

A section leader must be able to give orders whether it be stepping out of formation to correct mistakes, give praise, or give tips, the section leader mustn't be dismayed by seniority or talking in front of a crowd.

People in both roles should love what they are doing; a great SL helps the team/band excel. More importantly, both should be there to have fun. If SLing isn't fun for you in game, don't worry about it! Join a squad with an SL you love and have fun! If you don't want the responsibility of managing a section, you shouldn't apply just to have a position of power. You should do it to aid the band and yourself with that. A great SL can balance performance and fun; ultimately, a great performance should yield a great feeling of accomplishment and happiness.

A great SL and turn all the energy of a 6 person squad into one focused purpose. Only the best succeed, but it is truly something to work forward to.

For DrBeat in the real world, marching band leadership auditions are this week. As a former section leader, I have a good chance of grabbing my former seat and perhaps even a drum major (commander) position. Just like a squad leader, a section leader is dismissed at the end of the game/season. Even without the title, they are often still community/off-field leaders.

This Friday, after my interview and conducting audition, my Droid will vibrate with the email listing the 2010 leadership team. I'll be in a rehearsal for an honors band, fighting the urge to flip my phone on and peek in the middle of a song.

No matter whether I get a position or not, I will still report to whomever I am assigned to, play my best, and most importantly...


I'll let you know how I do next week.

- Rachel "DrBeat"