Conducting Style

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I’ve played in various ‘lower section’/lower ability bands over the last decade and so have seen many different people wagging a Baton. One thing that strikes me is the variance in the way that Conductors treat their bands; at one extreme they are plain rude and abrasive and at the other they inspire and accept from players the best that they can give.

    It would be unfair to describe conducting as anything less than difficult and demanding, but it is still a mystery to me why someone would abuse a band member or members within a rehearsal in a way that would likely result in sharp words or even a ‘hurt’ nose if said outside of the band room. Perhaps I misunderstand but does the power of the baton go to some folks’ head or do they just lack better people skills?

    What experiences have forum members had and what do they think is good conducting practice?
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    I think you mean band training rather than conducting - even I can beat 4 but I would never attempt to get a band to play better

    Personally I like the man in the middle to be honest - tell me when I'm good, and tell me when I'm not.
    One personal dislike are phrases like "it's too loud" - is it really or are some parts too loud, tell me if I'm too loud (or even too quiet!)
  3. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    It is more a mystery as to why anyone would sit and take it. Probably worth having a bit of bottle and confronting them rather than being meek and sulking on the internet.
  4. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    If you can't confront them, then perhaps you could try another tactic. We had a conductor once who said my playing 'stunk'. Not as much as his hands did after I smeared dog excrement under his car door handles. I bet he still eats sandwiches with a knife and fork.
  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Interesting stances in responses #3 and #4 above, not my way of doing things but if it works for them then that's their choice. Fortunately my current Conductor is quite good, but I've experienced one in particular who who was very much few less so. Funny why so many players stayed with the 'troubled' one for only a few months but the 'penny never dropped'.

    I like Steve's logic in that it's good to be told when you are good and when you are not but, IMHO, how and when it's said has to be constructive, right for the person and right for the situation. That's quite an art.

    Any way, back to the OP: "What experiences have forum members had and what do they think is good conducting practice?"
  6. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    I play currently for two bands. Both conductors are very different in many ways. Both are however good in there own ways although one is more up front and less tactful. I am ready to step in if and when the less tactful becomes even less so.

    What I find more amusing and interesting is the different styles such as hand or stick waving and signals etc. Body language in general.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    We maybe digress slightly but on the other hand your comment is also at the core of things in that unfamiliar styles and arguably imperfect use of the baton does take away from what some players (can) offer and that has consequences. They/we don't quite catch what the conductor's intent is, and having failed to match the conductor's command disappointment or friction can result and so a downward spiral is entered in which the conductor repeats his 'error' and fails to get a different result. That's often been my observation, but I've already said "It would be unfair to describe conducting as anything less than difficult and demanding".
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  8. Simon_Horn

    Simon_Horn Member

    Steve - I won't be backwards in coming forwards - you are too loud ...and im not even in your band :)
  9. owain_s

    owain_s Member

    I'd suggest that an important skill for conductors is to be able to judge when to be up front, and when to be tactful?
  10. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    But sometimes it needs "a little more edge" to quote a conductor I have played for
  11. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that link, the two threads will have common points. My objective, in this thread, is more towards prompting comment on abuse directed towards players rather than the earlier broader topic. However, if associated issues are raised or if the thread has new readers or contributors than that's good too.

    My suspicion is that bullying in the bandroom was worse in the past and that players increasingly neither expect or will not accept unreasonable comment. That's not to say that I'm unsympathetic towards Conductors who might be struggling to get their message across but rather that I'm interested in the Jekyll and Hyde character changes that some Conductors think acceptable once the baton is in their hand.
  13. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    It is an astute observation 2T. When given 'special powers' some people will abuse them often in very petty ways.
  14. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the praise. 'Special powers' in various walks of life are sometimes abused or misused. A gifted writer might post destructive posts (some would feel that Red October was that type of forum member) so 'special powers' used can be 'for ill', yet our mod's who also have 'special powers' hold back from using them when it would have been better that they deleted a post, thread or account.

    I guess it all boils down to consideration of others at a very basic level, remembering that whilst you can do something that doesn't mean that you should. There are some great Conductors out their who's wonderful personality shines out across the band when they take the baton and we players give our very best to them, yet others are for some reason quite 'different' .....
  15. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Hadn't thought of it like that reminds me of a quote. Uncle Ben i think, not the Rice man but Batmans Uncle
    "Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility."
  16. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I checked, it was Spiderman's Uncle : . Good advice to follow whether you post a little or a lot, hope I'm doing OK ..... nothing deleted yet so perhaps I am.

    Any way, back to the OP: "What experiences have forum members had and what do they think is good conducting practice?"
  17. Basstiger

    Basstiger Member

    I played in a band where the moment the conductor auditioned for the MD post you could tell he was on a short fuse. There were occasions where he would lose it and shout or throw things, although rare these were quite unnerving for some.
    His predecessor had the patience of a saint however and was quick to follow a negative with a positive. 2 very different styles from 2 very different people.
    Good conducting practice? I know which one I prefer!
  18. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Here’s an interesting angle in that during the audition the band could sense that the Conductor in front of them had a short fuse yet they still took him on. I believe it isn’t easy to get Conductors and so do bands put up with poor behaviour because they can’t find anyone else or because contest results make the aggravation worth it?

    It is a mystery to me why some Conductors think it OK to be sharp or much worse in rehearsals. However I’ve come to see that every situation has three (or more) sides: the truth and then what each of the other (two or more ) parties thinks. So some Conductors that ‘lose their rag’ might feel provoked, maybe that’s just an excuse but what’s reasonable to expect?
  19. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    So the question has become 'why do bands employ people who are obvious nut jobs?' Interesting question. I would put forward that many folk secretly like the alpha dog. It happens in all walks of life, the football manager/coach Roy Keane comes to mind, clearly a talentless and unhinged nut job, but he still gets jobs and will continue to do so.
    On the other hand, I have seen otherwise cool and collected MDs lose their rag in rehearsals as they have have to cope with constant yapping from the Basses,incessant tapping from the percs and at least 3 back seat MDs who like to showcase their own knowledge by catching out the real MD with stupid questions. So it swings both ways.
  20. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    If players don't respond to gentle encouragement can you really blame the conductor for moving on to mild/less than mild rebuke.

    I'm no conductor, but I can imagine the frustration when a player/section/band reverts to a poor style after hours, or even weeks, of practice.

    Can you blame them?