Jan 142005

Since I’m preparing information for a stake music workshop and I have to consolidate several books worth of information, I might as well do it here. The following tips are from an old conducting textbook I had on the shelf… the author wasn’t specified and it was in so well-loved a state that there was no publication date to be found. 🙂

  • One pitfall for new conductors is using a beat pattern that is too rounded… or not definite enough. Too much motion.
  • Use of a baton is largely a matter of personal taste.
  • Conducting in front of a mirror will help you develop better conducting skills. (I do this quite often… it’s amazing the bad habits you can pick up without knowing it.)
  • In addition to metronome markings, a thorough study of the mood of the text will help determine an appropriate tempo for each selection.
  • Overuse of the left hand (i.e., keeping the beat with both hands) makes it relatively ineffective for special situations (i.e., attacks, releases, crescendos, etc.).
  • When singing, “Mary” should still be pronounced “Meh-ree,” not “May-ree.” “Angel” is “ayn-jehl” not “ayn-juhl.” There’s quite a long list of similar mispronunciations.
  • Spoken instructions, remarks, etc., should be kept to a minimum during a rehearsal. Sing, sing, sing.
  • Choir members need to be reminded (perhaps repeatedly) never to sing so loudly that they cannot hear the individuals and parts around them.
  • To avoid too much dependence on the piano (or other accompaniment) passages should occasionally be rehearsed a cappella.
  • Simply saying “Let’s sing it again,” doesn’t accomplish much. There should be a purpose for the repetition, and the choir members should know and understand the goal of the repetition.
  • Singers become fatigued by singing too long in a sitting position. Occasionally have the choir stand to rehearse.
  • If the singers have their “noses in their books” (and are therefore not watching for cues), instead of telling them verbally to watch you, try conducting the passage erratically–speed up or slow down at will, and use fermatas where none are noted. It becomes a sort of game, and teaches them to watch the conductor.

That’s probably all I’ll use from this volume. I have four more in the to-be-read stack…

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