How to be a great conductor

I’ve gotten some positive feedback on my conducting, so I thought today I would share some tips with you.  For further study I would recommend watching the silhouette guy in Fantasia, cause he seems pretty legit.

1. Score study.  There are generally two schools of thought.  First is the one that I and all my peers follow, which is the idea that you can probably just bullshit this after 5 to 10 minutes of looking over the sheet music.   The second is that you haven’t studied the score enough unless you’ve grown to first completely abhor it, and then come around to love it like an old worn-out pair of musical underpants.

2. Posture.  The appropriate posture is an alternation of being hunched forward with your head sticking out like a chicken (for the quiet stuff), and being arched the opposite way, with your head thrown back as if experiencing exorcism (for the loud stuff).

3. Gesture.  Your hands and arms should feel awkward and dramatic.  Your pattern should be a reflection of what the music sounds like, i.e. if the music is fluid and lyrical, your hands should be swirly and it should be impossible to tell where the beat is.  In general, feel free to disregard the time signature of the music and conduct in whatever meter you feel like, particularly if you are working with a choir because they won’t be counting anyways.

4. Rehearsal technique.  Part of being a great conductor is knowing how to lead an efficacious rehearsal.  This is something you’ll naturally figure out over time (either that or you’ll just quit because you suck), but I do have a few pointers for you.  First, avoid talking too much.  You can demonstrate a lot charades-style instead.  Second, figure out how to have an intimidating presence – it will help keep your ensemble afraid of you and therefore working hard.  I recommend periodically yelling in German for this; it’s a classic way to terrify Americans.  Finally, keep your end result in mind.  Be always thinking of what you want your performance to be like, and work towards that.  Consider hiring your family to sit in the front row so that they can throw roses at you and start a standing ovation at the end of the performance.  Practice bowing.  Constantly think about what you’re going to wear.  With the appropriate attire and desired audience response ever in mind, your rehearsals are sure to be a success.

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One Response to How to be a great conductor

  1. Queen Bee says:

    Oh, mon petit maestro ! vous m’inspirez.


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