Published on Thursday, 14 January 2010 10:54
Written by Bruce Gale
As with every other branch of music, conducting is a skill that needs to be carefully cultivated. Unfortunately, it is also a subject in which few secondary or college music directors in Asia have had any formal training. More often than not, they have simply learned on the job, drawing upon the experience gained playing in ensembles under other conductors, some whom may not have been particularly good role models. Needless to say, attempting to improve one’s conducting skills in such circumstances can be extremely difficult.
A conductor's style reflects his personality.
Conductors use a sort of musical sign language made up of hand, arm and facial gestures rather than speech to communicate with the musicians in the ensemble. This use of gesture means that conducting often reflects almost as much of the personality of the conductor as it does the music being played. Thus, no two conductors ever conduct in precisely the same way. This is not a license for a conductor to ignore the standard practices of the discipline, however. Nor is it an excuse for showmanship.
After reading this section you should be able to answer questions such as the following:
- What are the various skills required of a conductor?
- What posture should a conductor adopt in order to transmit a sense of leadership and self-confidence at the podium?
- Explain the primary functions of the left and right hand
- What problems do beginners often experience when executing the downbeat sequence?
- Suggest some general guidelines for conducting beat patterns.
- Describe the melded gesture and the dead beat.
- How would you conduct music beginning with an anacrusis?
- How does the general shape of the beat pattern indicate dynamics and style?
- How do you conduct asymmetrical metres (5/4, 7/8 etc)?
- Suggest some ways in which an aspiring conductor can hone his skills through home practice.
- And many more!