Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by HBB, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Anyone know how to start someone off conducting?

    I'm really interested in learning to conduct and then taking a 4th section band...

  2. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Study music at university, preferably with a conducting element in your degree, and preferably with a Brass Band Speciality. (Straightmute may be able to recommend somewhere if his faculty doesn't run one.)

    Personally, although I am a capable conductor (aside from occasionally getting too annoyed with people yakking:mad: ) I feel that every formally trained conductor that I've ever come across has been better equipped to deal with the job than I ever am.
  3. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Try the local bus depot! Sorry Ben. I agree with everything that Will has said, but I started off with a local non-contesting band about 2 years ago and am still there. I just said if they ever needed somebody to take a rehearsal I would like to have a go.

    All I try and do is remember everything I have been told in 20 odd years of playing.
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    You could always try beating "1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . " :oops:
  5. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    From a players perspective I think it is important for a conductor to have experience of playing at the top end of banding. I am not saying that being a good player makes a good conductor (because often the 2 are not correlated at all) but having that experience will open you up to ideas/ contacts which will influence you as a conductor.

    There is also the age factor. I guess it is quite like teaching (and I know this is a stereotype - and I am a teacher myself ;)) the teachers that start at a more mature age have the life experience and find it much easier to gain respect (and therefore control) of the class, whilst the younger starters have the energy and enthusiasm to deal with arising situations. I suppose it is a balance! I think it could be similar in conducting - harder for younger conductors to gain the respect of the band. I have seen enthusiastic people up against a real wall of "what does he know" - far from fair but a reality! Experience is the key and it;s difficult to get that whilst young.

    Perhaps try to get involved with teaching/conducting at a youth/training band? Work on yourself as a player and build up contacts and experiences you can work with when you get a break.

    Sorry if this comes across the wrong way Ben, I think you are a talented young man and have great potential :tup
  6. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    From a players point of view...I have played under a number of conductors and would not necessarily go along with the notion that someone with a degree will automatically make a better conductor than one without although granted, someone with a degree should have a better overall understanding.

    I think it's a case of combining a number of facets - you can be the most educated person in the world but you will not be suitable to direct a band if you do not have the personal, motivational and man management qualities required. Similarly, you may have all the personal qualities necessary but do not possess a sound theoretical knowledge then you are equally scuppered.

    It's fair to say that the majority of our top conductors are music graduates although one of the countries finest band trainers of the last 20 or so years is actually a Dr of Maths!
  7. Hollie

    Hollie Member

    Hey Ben!!

    I want to also lean to conduct, I'm going to major in conducting when I do my Music degree (i've been told I can do this!)
    What are you going to do after school or wotever?...could you do something like this?
  8. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I don't particularly want to go into music professionally. (I mean I love playing and composing) But would love to get in front of a band.

    I sometimes conduct the training band, but as they have enough trouble with the notes I find that I'm not a real conductor (they'd be content with a machine shouting 1, 2, 3, 4!!).

    However, from the general opinion on here that conductors can only be old, degree holding people...
  9. SteveDunster

    SteveDunster New Member

    If you're young enough to go off and take a music degree and you have no other committments or career to follow - then excellent idea, this is what my wife is doing and she is having a great time.

    Few are in that position though, and I'm sorry Ben, I don't know you - so in case you are not able to take a music degree the following may be of some help:

    1. Start teaching. If you teach brass on a one-to-one basis, it starts to get your head round some of the problems people have and find a way to fix them. It also gets your aural and chat skills up - all of which you will eventually need in front of a band.

    2. Get some small ensembles from you're current band and work up some quartets, etc as their conductor. You get all the elements of conducting and holding a rehearsal but with only four parts and four people trying to follow you - and you get to pick who they are. This gets you experience without needing a position first - the old chicken and egg issue.

    3. Once you feel you are doing more than just trying not to get lost in the score, following the instrumentalists instead of leading them, managing to keep tempo whilst turning the pages of the score, etc. - suggest to your MD that you would like to help him with some of the sectionals for the next contest, he'll no doubt be pleased and it gets you a taste of contest preparation - and you're MD might even give you an insight to how he has analysed the score.

    4. This stage will require a huge amount of study, home baton practice and rehearsal preparation. Get the most out of each of these opportunities. Keep your eye open for any conducting vacancies - you need band time, so don't restrict yourself to contesting bands: 4th section band, junior band, non-contesting band, maybe start a junior band - anything that you can work really hard on to get your rehearsal technique and audience raport sorted out.

    5. Once settled into your own band try and hire some professional conductors to come down and take your band on a regular basis. Pick ones that you respect and that you get one with. Hang onto their every word, every jesture - make loads of notes. They will probably get more out of the band than you - every time you get them down you will understand a little more about why that is and what they do that is different.

    If you get this far I guess it is every man for himself - how hard you work, how much musical insight you can achieve, how well you can convey that insight to your band, how much you can get them to enjoy the process - and the good fortune to have the right standard of band available to you at important moments in your career as a conductor.

    So, there you have it, no degree but:

    a) you will have studied as many conducting texts as you can get hold of (I can give you references to some good ones if you wish),

    b) you will have worked on one-to-one workshops with the professional musical directors of your choice,

    c) you will have managed the transition from player to conductor by supporting your current band and musical director

    d) you will have gained vital experience prior to going for your first audition

    It might sound easy but it is a long haul. Conducting technique is course important but it is a tiny amount of work compared with the analysis required of the scores, and this in turn is a tiny amount compared the importance of your raport skills - if they don't want to work for you, you're dead in the water mate!

    As a player I would do several hours a night practice - as a conductor you'll need to do at least that in score analysis and rehearsal prep and honing your aural skills. Never kid yourself that your "ear" is good enough - practice regularly pitch, harmony and rhythm drills. This is particularly important when taking lower section bands regularly - you may well be exposed to poor intervals and rhythms - make sure you still have the right ones in your head.

    I know some conductors do less - but it is you're choice as to how "on top of things" you want to be.

    I hope this is of some help to you and I wish you all the very best. For me conducting is one of the hardest things I've ever taken on - but it is SO worth it!

    Good luck

  10. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    I studied conducting at Salford under Dave King and Roy Newsome , but I dont think it makes a differenceif you have studied it at Uni or not. If you have a good ear, can tell someone WHY they are making a mistake and how to rectify it and can conduct your beat patterns in a way which your band can understand then there is no reason why you shouldn't conduct a band whatever your age.

    Uni gave me some really good background knowledge into the music I was conducting and why it was conducted in a certain way, but you can pick that up with experience.

    My advice is go for it and see what happens. If your a good musician and can put your point across in a way which is understandable you should do alright at being a conductor. Just conduct a piece as you would play it musically on your instrument.

    Does that help?!
  11. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Thanks Sharpy and Steve, very helpful comments :tup
  12. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I did get asked by MD if I wanted to have a bit more say in Conducting, etc... but them someother people came on the scene :(
  13. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    I've found that 'conducting training' is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Certainly I have found no correlation between ability at conducting and whether you are being trained at it. I play in quite a few ensembles at uni and the music students make no better conductors than the non-music students. In fact, imho, one of the best conductors at the uni isn't a music student and hasn't ever been trained to conduct. Basically, just like other things one must have a talent for it, and as long as you have enough musical gumption I should doubt anything will stand in your way.

    I would actually try and start conducting with a small group of people who actually know what they are doing, they can give you pointers and also are more likely to do what you ask of them (so you can see if your technique is working!). Conducting youth bands and inexperienced players is very difficult, as they often don't do what you tell them, so you have to be pretty confident of your technique. University often offers conducting opportunities and you will be working with people who are pretty good musicians too.

    Things I like to see in a conductor:

    1) clear, unambiguous beat
    2) clear vision of how the piece should be played
    3) good rehersal planning
    4) good communication skills

    The latter two I think are incredibly important and no amount of musicianship is going to help you with those!

    But, hey! What do I know?
  14. NAS

    NAS Member

    Im not old (just 23), I dont hold a degree (I stopped music studies after my 6th form at Chethams)... I have found playing for bands like Leyland etc has helped me though, purely cos I know what is expected of players in bands like that and I expect the same of my players at Rainford:-D. Plus I have a great mentor in Russell Gray!
  15. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Lol, Neil! I was jsut being pedantic. I know that the likes of you, and in another thread tehre was somethign about an 18 year old conducting in Scotland.
    I just get fed up of people saying you're young, you have no idea whatsoever! That fuels people like me to show them wrong!
  16. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    All true. I'd add
    5) enough confidence to accept constructive criticism without crumbling

    When I began conducting on a regular basis, I had the great benefit of a band where there were several members who had constructive and useful things to say about what I was doing. This could have been intimidating, and a timid conductor is usually not a good conductor. I had enough confidence in my own abilities to accept their ideas without becoming a puppet, and that's made my experience much more satisfying both for the band and myself.

    6) an enthusiatic, positive attitude

    Nothing is worse than a conductor with a negative attitude toward the group. Doesn't matter how technically skilled with the stick, someone who doesn't seem interested in doing the job just isn't the right person.
  17. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I can see another tMP article coming on!
  18. NAS

    NAS Member

    Sounds like the makings of a conductor, likes to prove a point:p
  19. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I'll never let something go without a fight!
  20. Fifi

    Fifi Member

    Be welsh that always helps!!

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