+1 and thanks for sharing the linkThe whole "first chair"/challenges concept of school bands is antithetical to good section playing.
If I were a high school jazz band director, I'd put my best sax player on baritone, the next best on 3rd alto and 4th tenor. (Note that like the old fart I am, I insist on the old nomenclature, because it means something - there are 5 saxes, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - etc., not enough space to expand on this here.) Why? Because baritone anchors the section and the interior parts are what makes it a section.
Of course if I did this the helicopter parents would be showing up with torches and pitchforks baying for my blood because little Johnny is "playing second" to someone who's not as good - why, he might not get that scholarship to Harvard!
Also, a good band director will throw solos to all the members of the section. Either break open a solo section, or swap parts around. IN professsional bands, that's done all the time - for example, if you're playing a stock chart and one of the alto parts has a wicked clarinet part - and it's the other guy who is the virtuoso clarinetist - why, they swap parts. The one who was playing lead, plays 3rd - and knows how to do it - and the one that was playing 3rd plays lead - and knows how to do it.
Unfortunately with all they have to cope with, most band directors I suspect are happy if something resembling the music emanates from the band at all.
Just what I told him in #5Some other comments to the OP:
If you're playing 3rd and you're overpowering the section, you need to dial it back. Frankly if I were playing 3rd alto on a consistent basis I'd probably use my Selmer C* mouthpiece. I'm sure you have something similar.
That's true! I play first alto saxophone since more than 20 years and I think the second saxophone parts are way more challenging than the first alto parts, I the mood is a clear example of that. Also, it's very difficult to make these parts to sound nice far more difficult than to make the first alto parts to sound nice.And if you play "In the Mood", the 2nd alto part is the hardest of all the parts.
You've already gotten great advice in this thread - the only thing I want to add is I wish a LOT more musicians asked themselves this question. Once you leave school, 1st/2nd/3rd etc. parts aren't about who is the best player, it's all about the role in the music.So my main question and struggle for the time being is:
As the second alto player, what is my purpose in the ensemble...?