Advice for a new conductor?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by jack1993jack, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. jack1993jack

    jack1993jack New Member

    Hi all,
    I recently started staying behind after band to help with the younger (B & C bands), and eventually started conducting the B band. Theyre not brilliant but there are some good players and I do enjoy conducting them, although they do lack enthusiasm.
    Any advice for a new conductor? Any tips or hints are much appreciated :)

    - Jack
  2. tubadaz

    tubadaz Member

    Hi Jack,

    As someone who is fairly new to conducting as well, one of the best things you can do is see if your local Band Association run conducting courses. I have recently been on one run by the Yorkshire and Humberside BBA with Richard Evans, which was fantastic. Richard covered aspects of stick technique, preparation and rehearsing bands, among others.

    If they lack enthusiasm, try and find out what sort of music they enjoy playing. Let it be known that if they play well and work hard in the rehearsal, you'll allow one of the sections to choose a piece to play as a treat to end the rehearsal! A conductor I played under years ago used to use that ploy - and it worked!! :D

    I'm sure you'll get a lot more advice as well. Try it and see what works for you.

  3. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    Keep it simple. Simple stick work, simple vocab, straightforward aims that the band can easily understand and be proud of the achievement.

  4. TubaPete

    TubaPete Member

    If people don't change the way they play when you ask, try to think of a different way to decribe what you want.

    Some people think mainly in visual terms, some in sound terms and some in physical terms. That's just human nature. If you can think of physical and visual metaphors for the sound you want, you shuold be able to tell everyone something they can relate to.
  5. Simon_Horn

    Simon_Horn Member

    Agree with last poster about how people think in different ways and the concentration span in younger people can be low so you need to develop a fast paced style that will keep them all on the edge of thier seats. Any talks longer than a paragraph perhaps leave to start or end of rehearsal and try to keep every section engaged (esp. those players that aren't heard very much - 2nd/3rd cornet, lower horns, baritones and those that tend to have less technical parts (basses, percussion).

    I would recommend doing some preparation on the score beforehand - perhaps play through each part at home and see what your players may find difficult i.e valve and slide work, tonging etc. and mark each in the score with a post it note. Try and ensure every section has a couple of points you can address throughout the next rehearsal. Use a post it note to mark them on the score. When you've addressed the points and the problem is fixed you can just take off the post it note without defacing the score. The players can clearly see you've done the preparation and there will be a sense of reward as you rip the post it note out of the score and throw it in the bin (perhaps with some words of congratulation/encouragement at the same time). This will help with player motivation.

    Think back to when you was younger - it's sometime difficult enough playing the notes without all the added bits like articulation and phrasing etc. I find that humour is always useful and if you can sing a part by allocating words to the notes then you can often find something funny to sing when outlining individual parts and this will then stick in the minds of the players when they come to play the part in the concert.

    Young or old and regardless of what team we are talking about, we all feel more assurred when there is an esablished framework of behaviour that is clearly understood. My own view is that there should be room for a laugh and joke during rehearsals but the primary purpose of being there is to rehearse and so you should 'nip in the bud' any larking about that starts to be an issue. If you don't then the behaviour becomes seen as acceptable by others and this can be harmful to your effectiveness as a conductor - a role which is essentially the coordinator of effort within a team.
  6. awalker

    awalker Member

    Try doing something different with them now and again, such as games and quizzes related to the music they play. It's something I aim to do on a regular basis and they seem to really enjoy it :)
  7. Kofi

    Kofi Member


    I'm no expert, as I only started conducting our youth band a couple of years back, and moved onto the senior band recently: doing my first test piece just now for Regionals ...!

    Someone above mentioned nipping mucking about in the bud, and I would agree with that: if you have chaos in the bandroom then you get nowhere. Now that order is established though, I have a really good laugh with the band, as long as it is all together. I try hard to make them all feel special too, and make sure I get round them all with a compliment personal to them at some point. Most important of all though, is I have tried to make sure they know it is their band, that they are in control of the success of the band just as much as me. If they feel ownership for their band and responsible for it's success, there is very little work required to motivate them. And as far as rehearsals are concerned... 'be prepared'!

    Good luck, hope you keep enjoying it!
  8. jack1993jack

    jack1993jack New Member

    Thanks for the great advice everyone!

    Thanks Darryl, I'm going to have a look to see if there are any. In any case, I'm picking up a couple of pointers from our MD as I go along :D
    I try to do "fun" pieces with them; ones they know or enjoy, but still some of them just dont seem like they want to be there.. I do know they'll pick Men of Harlech, every time :D - they love it

    Makes sense, thanks! :D

    I'll try this next rehearsal, thanks!

    Thanks! I especially like the postit idea, I think I'm going to try that this week.
    I have noticed that some band members seem to think of band as more of a social event than it probably should be so I think I'll take your advice and keep it in check

    Thats an interesting idea.. I might give that a shot :) It could work pretty well

    Thanks, I do think they should have more of a sense of pride to be in the band.

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