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"why do the performers need to be unified? assuming one performer somehow loses the others, can't he just listen to them and adjust? how does the presence of the conductor make this any better?" The issue is someone has to set the beat, and a large ensemble is large enough that you may not be able to tell that a whole section is dragging from the stage ...


Sure, there are times when the conductor will go ahead and be the soloist. It's not that uncommon especially when the orchestra is relatively small.


The key qualification is a very analytical ear and a well-established idea of the score (with lots of experience under one's belt, one will be able to work with less preparation, but it takes a long time before that). To work with a large number of individuals with different problems, it is very important to hear what stuff does not work properly, find ...


The conductor's job is to analyze the piece and figure out, to a very minute detail, how it should be played. He then has to communicate that in rehearsal through words and physicality (conducting patterns and gestures). The difficulty is in coming up with a good analysis, having a sharp ear to hear what the ensemble is doing, and being able to communicate ...


Good conductors are good leaders. They know the score and how it's supposed to sound. They need to be able give constructive criticism to each and every musician. They also need to be confident and good analyzers of both the score and the players and the sound being produced.

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