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Suggested Reading

1. Rehearsal Rooms

Struggling to improve the acoustics in your band room? Check out how the Medan Band did it.

2. Concerned about playing swing music properly?

Check out my guidelines

3. Ear training exercises for bands

Unlike piano players, ear training is essential for wind band performers. But how many band directors bother to give their bands suitable exercises?

4. Intonation problems

While tuning is simple act of adjusting a length of tubing on a wind instrument (often by reference to a single note), intonation is an ongoing process in which a player strives to match the pitch of others in the ensemble during performance. 

5. “Blowing” a wind instrument

A common misconception among wind players is to believe that the air moves through the instrument in order to produce the sound. This is simply not true. 

6. Conducting – suggestions for home practice

The best way for a conductor to improve is in front of a live ensemble. The unfortunate reality, however, is that this is not always possible. Aspiring conductors therefore have little choice but to find other ways of honing their skills.

 

Introduction


 

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!


 

 

 

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