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should, where practical, be placed in proxim- ity to each other. For example, tenor saxo- phone and baritone horn should be seated near one another, even if not in the same row.

A Suggested Seating Arrangement

Most directors have decided views on seating the band. I offer an arrangement I have found successful, in which the wood- winds are placed on the left side of the band with percussion behind them, brass are placed on the right side, and bass instru- ments in the center. Flutes are placed on the outside of

each row on the left side to give them tonal advantage. For the same reason, oboes are placed on the right in the first row, and bas- soons in the center. Clarinets are placed in second, third,

and fourth rows inside the flutes, with 1st clarinets in row two, 2nd clarinets in row three, and 3rd clarinets in row four. With more advanced players, a better blend will be obtained when one stand each of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd clarinets is placed in the sec- ond row, one stand each of 1st, 2nd, and 3rds in the third row, and the remaining stands of 1st, 2nd, and 3rds in the fourth row. In this mixed arrangement, 1st clari- nets would be placed in the middle of the section in each row, with 3rd clarinets on the outside and second clarinets on the in- side. Bass clarinets are placed in the center of the third row. Saxophones and French horns form

a bridge between the woodwind and brass sections. Alto saxophones are placed in the right side second row with 2nd alto

saxophone on the outside and 1st alto saxo- phone on the inside. Horns are seated right side in the third row. Because of their direc- tional characteristics, 1st horn can best exert leadership by being seated on the outside of the row. Beginning

with the third row, the

chairs on the end of each successive row are set back one space, rather than being set straight across the front of the forma- tion. Thus, the outside chairs on each side of the third row is set back one space, those in the fourth row set back two spaces, and those in the fifth row set back three spaces. This has the advantage of forming a more compact formation overall, with the band more in the shape of an oval as opposed to a semicircle.4 Trombones are seated behind the

French horns, on the right in the fourth row. Placing the middle and low brass in close proximity allows better balance to the chordal structures often played by these instruments. Placing trombones in front of the trumpets to absorb their sound pro- motes better balance and blend within the brass section than placing trumpets in front of trombones. Put the 3rd trombones on the outside of the row, 1st trombones in the middle of the section, and 2nd trombones on the inside. Tenor and baritone saxophones are placed in the center of the fourth row, be- tween the clarinets and trombones. The tenor saxophone is placed in front of the baritone horns. The baritone saxophone is next to the tenor saxophone and in front of the tubas. Trumpets are seated on the right in the fifth row, with 3rd trumpet on the outside,

1st trumpet in the middle of the section, and 2nd trumpet on the inside. If there are separate trumpet and cornet parts, the cor- nets are placed as above and the trumpets seated in the same row toward the inside of the band. Baritone horns, and then tuba (and string bass or bass guitar if there is one) follow after the trumpets in the fifth row. I have found bass guitar (played discreetly) adds incisiveness to the tuba attack. Percussionists are placed on the left in

the fifth row behind the woodwinds, with mallets on the outside, followed by traps, cymbals, snare drum, bass drum, and tim- pani. Mallet percussion are behind the woodwinds, who often play a similar part. The bass drum is near the center to facilitate rhythmic precision and timpani are close to the basses.


1 Although much of the following is standard practice, a review may not be amiss. A number of the concepts presented here are based on Mark Hindsley’s “Seating Arrangements for Concert Band,” The Instrumentalist, May 1976, also found in The Conductors Antholgy, Vol. II, p. 451, (Northfield, IL: The Instrumentalist Publishing Company, 1989)

2 3

That is, seating a section of nine trumpets 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c.

The players joined by a hyphen share a stand.

4 I remember an aphorism of a former teacher, Arthur Christman: “Distance is the enemy of music.”


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