To Lead a Sectional

Matt Forrest with his girlfriend, Kelynn Murray, before a VT football game; Source: Matt Forrest

Matt Forrest with his girlfriend, Kelynn Murray, before a VT football game; Source: Matt Forrest

Matt Forrest has spent the past two summers marching as a mellophone player with the DCI Crossmen, but his favorite place to march is Virginia Tech. This year, his senior year, Matt leads the MV Trumpets as a section leader.

When I asked him about one of his favorite memories as an MV, he told me about what it was like to lead the trumpet section for the first time. 

“I had never really gotten a chance to talk to my entire section,”

he told me, admitting he was nervous to be section leader. Matt had only ever been a rank captain the year before, and he was suddenly one of the leaders for the largest section in the band. He was hoping to use his experience from Crossmen to get ideas of how to run a musical and visual rehearsal. Still, when Matt Forrest attended MV leadership camp, he wasn’t feeling completely confident. One exercise in particular he remembers made him uneasy. 

“One person would play section leader and we would take turns going up and teaching the other section leaders… we basically had to play the beginning of Tech Triumph, and the senior staff would hand out cards that would say ‘play one note wrong’ or ‘play way too loud’ and you would have to say ‘a trombone played too loud’ or ‘I heard some wrong notes in the lower part’. That was really hard,”

he explained. He could only imagine what it would be like to have to do that with 60 other trumpets playing the exact same thing right at him.

On the first day of sectionals, Matt said he was reassured by all the familiar faces in the section. Faces of friends and MV’s he’d gotten to know over the past four years. Pushing his nerves aside, Matt went up and lead his first sectional.

“Having 62 trumpets playing in your face is such an amazing feeling,”

he laughed, and he assured me it’s a feeling that never gets old, no matter how many sectionals you lead. When Matt started to just have fun with the sectional, everything else followed closely behind.

“After we started playing the music, things started popping out, like ‘Oh, that was a wrong note’ or ‘oh, you guys aren’t playing this correctly’, and I thought ‘oh! I’m doing it! It’s happening!’.”

Now, Matt enjoys the process of making a section sound and look good for a show. He especially loves starting from square one with the music; hearing a show tune played correctly for the first time is one of his favorite parts of leading sectionals.

Matt admits that he wouldn’t have done as well without the help of the other trumpets.

“Their support has been everything. I’m not perfect, I have messed up, and they just go with the flow,” he said, “I know they all respect me and it just means a lot to me… It’s like my family of 62 other people.” -Matt Forrest