How to be First Chair in Band

You are ready to show up and be an even better flute player than you are right now. Congratulations! Now, let’s get you to be first chair in band.

Here’s a little blueprint to help you become the flutist who sits in the first chair position. 

It is more important to feel like a First Chair Flutist than it is to actually be one.

First of all, I’ll give a disclaimer that occasionally it may not work out so perfectly for you. Even if you do absolutely everything right. First chair can do with seniority- you know, the Senior Class player who has been there for 4 years already and the director just ‘feels’ she/he deserves it out of loyalty. There are also several hundred other factors (and opinions) that can go into placing a first chair flutist, so don’t feel like you’re failing just because you’re not first chair. It is more important to feel like a First Chair Flutist than it is to actually be one.

Let me say that again (it’s that important):

First of all, let me tell you that it is much, much more important to ‘feel’ like a first chair band member than to actually ‘be’ one. After you believe, then you’ll feel excited to take the proper steps to making it happen.

The advice I have here will prepare you for the confidence of playing first chair.How to Get First Char in Band

As in any endeavor in life, you have to believe to achieve most of time, so let’s get you on the page of ‘believing’ you can become the first chair player.

All you need are some tools and guidance to be first chair in band to help you along your way:

  1. Can you play the ‘test’ material perfectly? If not, then you need to realize that there is a level of preparation that needs to happen before you should expect to be the best.. in short, I’m telling you to practice your guts out so you are over-prepared and will have no issues performing the test material in front of your classmates and teacher.
  2. Ask the teacher about the next opportunity to move-up in chair. You may just blow him/her off her seat when you ask her to ‘test’ you again. He/she will find you an opportunity and then watch you closely.. just because you are telling them you ‘want’ first chair may be one of the reasons you actually ‘get’ to be first chair in band.
  3. Play your scales every single day. Perfectly. If you can’t do this, then you again have some serious practice to do. The good news is that once you know those scales, you get to use them foreverrrrrrr. Scales are always tested, and you’ll find the finger patterns in every single piece you play. You’re going to become great, so put this on your daily checklist!
  4. Be a happy part of the program. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t be the snooty player who ‘acts’ better than everyone else. Help cheer on your fellow flute-friends! They’ll love you for it, and actually ‘vote’ you into first chair. It happens all the time!!

Well, these are just some things to think about next time you find yourself wondering why you sit where you do in your band program.

Read and and implement these strategies on how to be chosen as first chair in band. I’m here to tell you that you deserve it if you want it!
Now, go get it. 🙂

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller



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  • Chloe A

    Reply Reply November 8, 2017

    i’m in my 6th grade band and I really really want to be first chair but I’m not sure what shes gonna test on us or what kind of stuff. Also I’m not sure if shes going to let us pick one to try out or if were just going to play something and she’ll choose. Please help!!!

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply November 16, 2017

      Hi Chloe, glad you want to be first chair! (you can do it) Each teacher has different criteria each time they test their students for chair placement. Sometimes they choose a portion of a piece the band is learning, sometimes it’s the scales, etc. And, ALL of the time it’s about how prepared you are (aim for 101%), and how goooood you sound. Learn everything you can about sounding good, and you’ll be up there for sure. Good luck!! P.S. make sure you’re on my email list so you can join the TONE course when I open it. It’ll teach you everything you need to know to sound clear as a bell. ~Rebecca

  • Andrea Y

    Reply Reply February 27, 2018

    I’m first chair now but we’re having a chair test soon. The last chair flute feels bad about being last chair. How can I help her? I don’t want her to feel bad and as a first chair I am responsible for my fellow flute friends.

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply February 28, 2018

      Hey Andrea, I totally know what you feel like. I have always thought the first chair flutist is responsible for making everyone feel included. Strive to always be friendly and offer some extra help between class (without sounding snooty). Flute sections can be the best of friends. It makes band so so so so so so much fun! ~Rebecca

  • Amanda

    Reply Reply September 27, 2018

    So last year I was 1/2 chair but my band director doesn’t do tests to move up or down wherever he tells you to sit is where you sit for the rest of the semester so what can I do to get more solos or duets because he has the first and second chair people have duets their are never solos unless their is only one good player

    • RebeccaFuller

      Reply Reply October 1, 2018

      Hi Amanda, great question here. If I were you I’d ask your band director when the next opportunity for a solo or duet is coming because you are interested in trying out for the lead. He/she will raise their eyebrows and look at you in a whole new light. They’ll see that you are actively working on your skills and want to excel. They’ll probably create an opportunity for you just from the conversation. Good luck!! ~Rebecca

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