How to get into conducting

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by the kitchen sink, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. the kitchen sink

    the kitchen sink New Member

    Hi guys - first post on here - hope someone can help.

    I currently conduct a training band, but am finding it a bit repetitive due to the fact that as soon as a player gets any good they are moved on in to the main band and I lose them (so in effect I always have the weaker players).

    I have been considered too inexperienced to conduct the main band - but how does someone get experience of conducting a (reasonably) full band and also taking them to contests. The training band is often to few in numbers to do either.

    Any comments (and I've been trolling around here long enough to know that comments are freely given) would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Di B

    Di B Member

    Something you could do is use your contacts with any MD's you do know and offer your services as a dep if they are on holiday/have other commitments. This will at least build your confidence up in the middle of a senior band.
    I'd recommend not using your own band - you are probably too well known by the players for them to respect you as an MD.

    The other thing to consider would be to approach any non-contesting bands or struggling bands for MD vacancies. If you can make a mark at the bottom, you will get a good reputation.

    Also think about entering your training band into quartet contests for contest experience where you already are.
  3. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    When David started he found it hard to be given any opportunity at first especially in the band where we both played. Its difficult for a player to get the respect perhaps from his peers as a conductor until he has a track record? (And tricky if you have just given out criticism to sit back down again later and be forgiven).

    He managed to begin by applying for a conductors post at another Band and was lucky enough to be given the chance to take them. They realised his inexperience but recognised he has talent and were willing to work with him.

    Perhaps that's the way forward for you? Go and do as many auditions as you can until you get your first job. The very best of luck to you. XXX
  4. Dago

    Dago Member

    Well said, very sound and sensible advice.
  5. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    A conducting course is a good idea too. Quite a few of the local Brass Band Associations run them. They're useful for tuition and gaining experience in front of a senior band and, of course, meeting other conductors.

    Ray Farr's course at Durham University is excellent if you have ambitions of taking a higher section band, but the advice above about making yourself known and available to lower section/non-contesting bands is spot on.

    You don't mention what area you are based in...I'm sure there are bands represented on here that would happily give you an opportunity to take a rehearsal or two.

    Good Luck,

  6. Dago

    Dago Member

    Nobody can 'teach' conducting - just forget that nonsense. Find a band to conduct and do it -thats the only way to learn.
  7. the kitchen sink

    the kitchen sink New Member

    Many thanks for the replies so far

    I play in the midlands area, so if there are any bands who would be looking for a sub conductor let me know (Staffordshire for preference)
  8. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    mmmm....reply to that ends in .....ocks.

    Of course conducting can be taught...ok, talent may be down to nature...but, stick technique, score study, rehearsal techniques can all be learnt and improved upon.

    There are far too many conductors around who have followed the dumb route outlined know the ones....the ones that shout "play to MY beat" as they wave their arms about like a demented Zorro....thinking that an ictus is something you take for a sore throat....the ones who miss the 5/4 bar then blame the band. They're the ones usually reported as having "parted company with the band by mutual consent".

    Conductors who have gained my respect as a player are those armed with a clear beat and a great deal of well as that ubiquitous thing...talent.

  9. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Forget this nonsense more like!
  10. the kitchen sink

    the kitchen sink New Member

    I could probably do with some training myself (especially on 1 in a bar pieces)

    I presume Ray Farr's course is a full time course?

    If anyone knows of anything that is not full time please let me know

  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Ray's book that's published by Jargins is also worth a look (and watch - it comes with a DVD as well).

    It's on their site or can be bought from places like Midland CD here.
  12. brut33

    brut33 Member

    Just had a look at that link for Ray Farr's book... I'm thinking of getting it but at 27.50 it's quite pricey for a skin flint like me. Is it worth the money? Can anyone recommend it?
  13. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's a text book with accompanying AV materials and it's pitched at a limited market.

    £27.50 really doesn't sound that unreasonable to me.....particularly seeing as the textbooks I needed for my courses sometimes cost in excess of £75. In 1989.

    I've had a brief look at it since it was published - and I really wish something like it had been around when I was looking at doing this sort of thing years ago - but I do have to declare a slight conflict of interest in that I recorded (but didn't edit) some of the audio.
  14. brut33

    brut33 Member

    Cheers, to be honest I was joking about it being a bit pricey... I just need as much evidence as possible to get the household treasurer (wife!) to sanction any spending over about 43p! ;-)

    As an aside, I'm starting to really get into this site and it's also been helpful to me in finding contacts abroad for my band's summer tour... thanks for being such a well organised site TMP! :clap:
  15. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    The problem with books like this is that they're fairly narrow distribution so they can be difficult to see first hand before you decide you like it.

    If you send a PM to tMP user Gavin he'll be able to tell you more about it and whether or not it'd be suited to your needs.

    And're treasurer's much more giving than mine :D
  16. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    Ray Farr's course consists of several Sundays spread over the academic year.
    It is held at Durham University and the format is usually, morning, interactive lecture with Ray on the score of a set test piece (one of a number set at the beginning of the course and likely to be of the Isaiah 40, Contest Music, St. Magnus level).

    The afternoon's tend to be with a guest lecturer (often the composer of the set test) eg: Kenneth Downie, Roy Newsome etc.

    The evening (during my course) was spent taking the Reg Vardy Band through the test piece which Ray would then critique.

    I found the course excellent in its content, if perhaps aimed at a level to which I have yet to aspire, but it has given me great insight into the intricacies of score preparation, rehearsal and stick technique.

    I have a copy of Ray's Book/DVD which is well produced and helpful. It is also aimed much more at the developing conductor wishing to improve their technique.

    Another good source of study is a set of three DVD's by the orchestral Professor of Conducting, Denise Ham..The Craft of Conducting...which guides you step by step through the nuances of wagging, but doesn't cover those all-important rehearsal tips in Ray Farr's product.

  17. My MD is in a conducting competition. He might have some useful contacts. He's on here as GJacko.
  18. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Yep. I've got it and there's some very good advice, as well as a lot of useful stuff on the DVD, like demonstrations (for numpties like me) of correct beating patterns, etc. - definitely recommend it.
  19. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Welcome to tMP, and thanks for sticking your head above the virtual parapet.

    You say it's a bit repetitive and that the best ones get promoted to the next band up; that's just the nature of training bands. I tell my trainer band I want them to progress out of my band into the next one. I'd suggest (sorry if you do these things already) the answer is not to find a different band - but put more into the band you're conducting. Spot and encourage talent, pick (or write!) pieces that make the most of the talent you have. Know the pieces you conduct inside out, and be enthusiastic - if you're bored, your band will pick up on it for certain.

    Consider asking some of the more recently promoted players back to guest, and enter a contest that way. The Music for Youth competition is one thing you could go for - and you could end up in the Albert Hall! (In fact you may be more likely to conduct a training band in the Albert Hall than a more advanced band.)

    Try and be the best you can where you are now.
  20. sudcornet

    sudcornet Member

    Probably the best advice I've read on this forum....deserves a prize.


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