Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

34

A good conductor: Provides musical leadership Unifies the ensemble in the musical moment Decides on the how of music that cannot be communicated in the score Communicates to the ensemble non-verbally At the top level of your question, indeed, there exist ensembles that perform without a conductor. These ensembles are often heavily rehearsed, and quite ...


25

You ask "if most things are known in advance"---but who made those advance decisions? A conductor's role begins long before the actual performance, even before rehearsals begin. S/he makes decisions such as what tempo "Allegra ma non troppo" really means, how loud forte really is, how to coordinate one hundred people to play rubato together, how to balance ...


12

In my experience, it's best just to stop right when you notice the issue and address it immediately. If you are determined to continue without stopping, and your quick slash isn't enough to jog your memory, either stop conducting, letting your musicians continue, and actually write a note, or just don't worry about it. If you don't notice anything the next ...


11

Traditionally, conductors of choirs will not conduct using a baton unless they are leading a full orchestra along with their choir, whereas conductors of orchestras and other large ensembles will use a baton. Using a baton is an additional skill; in programs of conducting pedagogy I've seen, all students will work with a baton in their first few semesters ...


7

From my experience as a band musician, I can say that most of the importance of the conductor is during rehearsing. A well rehearsed orchestra composed of good musicians can play without a conductor in case of necessity, but without him they would probably never be able to successfully rehearse a piece of music. An orchestra is a very complex organism and ...


7

The written notes actually miss a lot of information. If you would write down every little tempo change, every little accent, small and large scale rubato, microdynamics, articulations, etc. etc., the score would be impossible to read, and it would probably still miss something. What the composer writes down is just a skeleton of the piece and the most ...


7

Raise the stands! Seen it a zillion times. The music stands need to be set high enough that the conductor's upper body is visible just above the top edge of the music. That way they can read the music AND receive visual input from the conductor simultaneously. The problem with having to "look up" is then you get lost when you look down again.


7

A suggestion for an exercise: Select a short passage of music of say four bars that involve everyone and has room for some conducting work in terms of dynamic or tempo changes. Go through it until everyone can play it without looking at the music. Then have everyone look at you, while playing that passage over and over again. Each time you do something ...


7

First what makes a good conductor. Being a good conductor requires three things: a broad knowledge of music in general and music theory in particular, the mastering of musicality and, last but not the least, very strong management and organisational skills. I believe point 1 is obvious. A conductor must be able to look at the score and make it sound in ...


6

There's a funny thing that happens when you look at more and more advanced orchestras. Across the board, the level of musicianship and technical skill increases among the players in the ensemble. This has a side effect in that more advanced orchestras need less and less information1 from the conductor in order to play together, in part because section ...


6

There aren't any specific rules, conductors don't need to use a baton or in fact anything, but it makes it easier for the orchestra to see the conductor's movements. Especially for those musicians further back, it just gives a nice specific timing point.


6

The conductor should always follow the soloist, not the other way around. The conductor is there to keep the large ensemble of musicians playing together smoothly. The soloist is there to take liberties and add some personal interpretation to his or her part. If it's a concerto, for instance, the conductor's job is to follow the soloist and wave his arms to ...


6

In my experience as both ensemble member and conductor I believe that there is considerable benefit to separating the role of the conductor from the other musicians. During rehearsal, a conductor should focus all attention to the ensemble and helping them stay together, balance parts, etc... It takes considerable mental and physical effort to play an ...


5

I have no experience in conducting, but I assume what works for your own instrumental performance will work here, too. When you're really in doubt, I would definitely try to record the performance and listen to it again when you can totally concentrate on it. You'll have more "space" to analyze and the next time you'll be more prepared.


5

I would say that the best way is to try to go through the whole piece at least once, marking each issue to address with a small but noticeable sign in the conductor's score (I would recommend a circle), so that later you can study each of them by its own, and with the proper musicians. Be careful, though. Don't fall into the trap of trying to correct every ...


5

The soloist should do all of those things. You don't necessarily have to look straight at the conductor though. Peripheral vision can be enough to see the movement of the hands and baton. If you just listen instead of watching too, there's a good chance you'll miss something and not be together with the ensemble. However, the conductor also needs to ...


4

The best way I've seen conductors solve this problem is by "changing it up" with their conducting. I've played in bands for a long time, and I've found nothing more effective. For example. In the middle of a piece, change the tempo. When a small percentage of the students actually catch what you're doing, they'll follow you. The others, when hearing that ...


3

I used to play first violin for a strathspey and reel orchestra and from that limited perspective: There is no way I could have conducted in rehearsal or otherwise - always too busy making sure my part was correct! You need to have the capability and vision to concentrate on the whole orchestra, and that could just be difficult to find in an individual ...


3

One useful way of looking at it is that the orchestra is a single musical instrument, and the conductor is the player, playing the orchestra. While the notes and durations are written on the sheets, the conductor indicates to the musicians the exact timing and articulations of important melodies. Sections that have long rests may receive a cue when they ...


3

I can't speak about CV advancement, but I would add the following to @Fabricio's list of what makes a good conductor: Knowledge of how all instruments work and are played, e.g. will two alto flutes playing in unison be heard above the viola section playing sul pont? Will it be different when the hall is full instead of empty? Experience with the mentality ...


2

Keep a small personal recorder on you, with a one-button start-stop interface, and an external mic attached to your shirt collar. If something happens, press the button and mention something that will jog your memory when you review. If you have a smartphone, there's most likely an app in the app store that will serve this purpose well for you, you can use ...


2

Our choir director has a "three strikes and we're out" rule, because she can remember two problem spots in a song before stopping at the third. I'm learning to conduct from her and one trick I've picked up is to stick my finger on the page where a problem happened; I can track one that way. Usually the reminder of where it was is enough, since most of our ...


2

It depends on the requirements of the music, For pieces such as Vivaldi's spring (cited in @msh210's comment) that are closer to chamber music than orchestral music, conductors are not mandatory. School ensembles will have small orchestras playing thoses pieces with a conductor, so that all can be together, professional recording seldomly do because they ...


2

I have no experience with conducting or being conducted, but there are a few things that seem obvious to me; I might as well throw my hat into the ring. I see several benefits to having the conductor also be a performer. One is cost. Paying one person is cheaper than paying two, even if you're paying the one extra for their dual role. This assumes ...


2

There are many reference books about conducting, some of them still being read despite dating from the early 20th century but your dream is just a dream. Conducting is as much apprenticeship as theory. And as many here have remarked, conducting schools and styles abound. You have to make a choice or let life make the choice for you. In the original version ...


2

A conductor is a vital part in any orchestra. He or she provides leadership and helps unify the sound to make great performances. There's no standard method for conducting, but as you can imagine, for a musician is quite hard to make all the decisions by himself or herself while another musician could differ, so the conductor has the final word. In ...


2

Any piece can actually be performed in an incredibly wide variety of ways, and the controller of style, flow, feeling, pace etc is the conductor. Generally the conductor is considered the most important person in an orchestra once the skill level of the individual musicians is high enough.


2

When someone is following a conductor, the location of the ictus is not so important as the direction of movement of the tip. This is going to seem counterintuitive, but the direction of movement is consistent with both methods, and I've known conductors to switch back and forth with the ensemble only noticing when inspecting the video afterwards. Think ...


2

Certainly don't give up hope! If you are excited about conducting, then you are already on your way to being a conductor. Realistically, though, learning to conduct is similar to any other musical discipline; you need to study how to do it. This doesn't mean you need a music degree though. If you already know of adult and youth orchestras, ask to sit in on ...


2

Excellent question. The problem is most likely that once looking up, the kids have trouble quickly finding the spot where they were. So they are afraid to get lost. As with most things in music: "practice makes perfect:". Suggestions: Go through the score with them. Put "look up" markers and "come back" markers into the score. These could maybe be a bar or ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible