Brass Band Conducting for Beginners

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by WagTheStick, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. WagTheStick

    WagTheStick Member

    I have recently been approached by a couple of beginner conductors with the idea of running a masterclass for aspiring and improving conductors with the option of further sessions (Intermediate and Advanced) and perhaps some one to one tuition.

    I am professionally qualified as a conductor and have a decent Brass Band pedigree. The aim would be to teach basic baton and rehearsal techniques to those starting out, aspiring to be or wanting to improve as Brass Band conductors without wanting to take on a more formal qualification.

    I am quite keen to do something like this but wondered if there was the appetite out there for such a course before putting any more time into arranging anything (or money into booking a band to be the guinea pigs!).

    Comments please.

  2. imthemaddude

    imthemaddude Active Member

    I love conducting and have done some courses with Richard Evans - love doing them because you always pick up new tips. Sounds like a great idea to me.
  3. WagTheStick

    WagTheStick Member

    Looks like it will be you and me then!:(
  4. super_sop

    super_sop Supporting Member

    are you still thinking of doing this?
    i could very well be intersted, were would you be holding it etc?
  5. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    Seems like a good idea - I'm studying conducting as my elective module, but its difficult to get the fuller picture with the limited time that we get with the band I'm certainly all ears on this one. :tup
  6. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    I'm sure there are plenty of people out there interested in taking up the baton. In my opinion, there is no substitute for real banding experience though. It's all very well knowing the basic conducting technique, but unless you get some quality time in front of an ensemble, it can be difficult IMO to develop as a player.

    Like Craig above, I studied conducting at university, and in a similar situation, I found that ensemble time was limited which certainly didn't help.
  7. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Any thoughts on where this might take place? I note that you're "down south" but the respondents so far are Midlands/North West. I'd be interested in anything you might want to put together, but might struggle to get to London or the South West.
  8. trm

    trm Member

  9. I'd be interested in this dependent on cost and distance.

    I wasn't even aware you could study conducting, but could do with getting some more experience and advice.

    (Such as - is it really necessary to use a baton - I've given up as I can't hold on to it and players are getting fed up of losing eyes :-? )
  10. Why not try this in your bands, for a lark. We had to do it at my band, as for one rehersal all three conductors were elsewhere. Anyway, it is interesting:

    Get the players to conduct a piece each, while the rest of the band plays and see how far they can get before they stop.

    I think that the furthest was about 16 bars.
  11. Gavin

    Gavin Supporting Member

  12. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    I'm studying it as a main part of my course at Salford, there arn't many of us - 3 this year, but even so we only get about an hour a week with the band. There are a few places that do it as a masters course like the RSAMD in Glasgow, or Napier in Edinburgh, or Salford.

    We were advised to use a baton while at uni, as its easier to lose the baton once you are established than it is to gain it ie the baton technique and things like that. Franz Violet seems to do a pretty good job with Willebrook without a baton!
  13. That makes sense - comducting is a natural art - if you try to copy someone else or they teach you the exact same way, you'll look really wooden:eek: . Ensemble time is what you need!
  14. Tubdennis

    Tubdennis New Member

    sounds like a good idea but depends on where and when?
  15. WagTheStick

    WagTheStick Member

    First of all sorry for not replying to your posts. For some reason I only got notification of the last one.

    To answer all at once, I conducted bands for 8 years before getting any formal tuition. I learnt enough from observing (I had lots of opportunity to watch Frank Renton teach) to see me conduct at the highest level (Masters). So in a way you could say it is a personal thing and each person adapts their own style. I was getting by quite nicely and getting paid handsomely into the bargain.

    However, having later formally studied conducting for three years, I believe there is no substitute for a good grounding. This gives you the confidence to tackle those tricky corners whilst concentrating on the band rather than what you are doing. Also you can get rid of lots of bad habits that maybe you didn't know you had (my rebound was awful - took 3 years to control it!). It is amazing how many conductors have never seen themselves conduct - sounds obvious but it is fundamental.

    Ultimately, I am responding to a couple of requests and it seems that there is an appetite for this as we become more professional (and the music at all levels gets harder). Most of our conductors are players who fancy a go or are asked to have a go. We are all happy to take tuition on our instruments and it is freely available, but it just doesn't seem to be out there for conductors. Since the original post I have started to tutor one chap one-to-one and am discussing distance learning with another and it is going well.

    In terms of location, price etc I am open to ideas. If a 2nd or 3rd section band would like to volunteer it's services and a location, at a reasonable price, I would be happy to do it cheaply. If any band is interested (it seems that Midlands would probably be best) PM me and perhaps we could do a deal and work on the areas piece for a day so the band benefits.

    January looks like a good time for starters and I will look to repeat in a couple of locations if it works out. I will be happy to offer further tuition after the event (or before) as mentioned above. Again PM me if you are seriously interested and we will see how it goes.

    Thanks for the ideas and I'll be at Pontins on the Saturday night - so PM me and arrange to meet up for a chat if you are about.
  16. WagTheStick

    WagTheStick Member

    Missed the baton question?

    The baton is supposed to give the band more chance of seeing what you are doing - its an obvious place to focus on - otherwise which bit of your arm do I watch?. If you are struggling to hold on to it you are probably working too hard.

    I compered at a contest recently and one of the conductors was almost beating in demi-semiquavers. He was killing himself and it detracted (completely lost the band in a solo) sometimes as the cliche says 'Less is more'.

    A solid baton technique will help and personally I think you have to be really good to get any sort of message across without a baton.

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