MD/Conducting Courses

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by gcbtrom, May 26, 2011.

  1. gcbtrom

    gcbtrom Member

    After toying with the idea for a few days, I'm interested into finding out how to go about becoming a Conductor.

    I know there are loads of pros and cons and dos and don'ts etc, and quite ironically clicked onto 4BR and there happens to be a video of Dr Nick doing in the first part of this subject which I thought was quite interesting.

    Are there any professional schools that do that without having to go through 5 years worth of stuff beforehand (like Marines basic training etc)

    I do currently play but for some reason I find it quite hard to keep consistent and looking at options on how to stay in Brass Banding without changing instrument.

    Haven't been to school for at least 8 years so looking to get something to fall back on should the playing "fall down"

    So any suggestions?

    I did have a search but all I got was all the MD classifieds in the Recruitment Corner :wink:
  2. TonyW

    TonyW Supporting Member

    How to be a conductor in one easy lesson

    Assured yet friendly personality. Can you count? Can you hear a wrong note and put it right by singing it? 180 guineas please. :biggrin:
  3. euphalogy

    euphalogy Member

    A full frontal lobotomy is essential in the first instance, it dulls the sensation of the rhinoceros skin that you will need to get acustomed to. Good luck
  4. super_sop

    super_sop Supporting Member

    haha, this made me chuckle, but sooo true!!!!!!!
  5. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Have you considered the breadth and depth of conducting experience that frequents this forum, and thought about contacting them via PM. I'm sure that all of them would be willing to supply knowledge/experiences.

    Of course I could be completely wrong about this :oops:
  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    My advice, if you want to do a proper job, would be to join the NABBC and take one of their conducting courses, which will enable you to study with the professionals.

    Also, when you practise conducting, make sure you watch yourself in a mirror. Many conductors I know think they are clear, but their beats are far from definite. Don't develop an ostentatious movement like an orchestral conductor, that's stuff for the audience. brass bands like a clear, concise beat, with a very definite down beat.
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    What, like Pierre Boulez? :rolleyes:
  8. Toby

    Toby Member

  9. Conducting Opportunities

    Hello, Ayrton. It looks as if you're based in Guernsey, which will probably make my response less than helpful to you, but if you're working in the London area or if there are any other aspiring brass band conductors out there, please contact North London Brass.

    North London Brass is a network of bands incorporating NLB Enfield, Edmonton, Southgate and Muswell Hill. We exist to encourage more players back into brass banding and to take up brass playing for the first time. But, equally, we provide opportunities for players to develop their coaching, conducting and leadership skills. When you include our Academy Band, our Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra, and plans for future projects later this year, there are plenty of opportunities for people to experience directing a band or working with smaller ensembles.

    We currently have around 80 brass playing members and coaching staff across the North London area and we have at present one, possibly two, conductor/bandmaster roles needing to be filled. We're happy to give an enthusiastic and knowledgeable player some real experience and our players are generally friendly and encouraging.

    In other words, you can go on a course and that sounds excellent, but when it comes down to it nothing beats getting some actual experience, and if you can find a friendly band willing to give you the opportunity, backed up and supported by some experienced banders, then that's probably worth years in college.

    I hope that's of some help to you or other aspiring conductors out there. I'd be keen to speak with any brass player within striking distance of our North London Brass bands who is keen to get some experience and to help us reignite interest in brass playing in our corner of the world.

    Best wishes


    Martyn Stogden
    Director - North London Brass
    NLB Website:
  10. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    OK, so it was sweeping generalisation - bite me! :rolleyes:
  11. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

  12. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    ah ha!

    Not many people seem to want to do it, yet they'll have a whisper when you go wrong. You need excellent man management skills, and friendly smile, and a bit of luck getting started with a good band. Think about the various conductors you've played under, I'm sure you can come up with your own do's and dont's list from things your seen in the past.

    Mike's right get fired in to the NABBC there's a mentoring scheme now where they pair you up with a good conductor from your area and they pop to the odd rehearsal and help you with problems, ideas etc . . .
  13. TonyW

    TonyW Supporting Member

    Just thought of one more requisite - you need to know your score inside out.
    You had some still competition (probably still do have). I saw Karajan with the Berlin Phil many moons ago. They performed the Rite of Spring. Mr K had no score, and no music stand. He did a Mozart String Divertimento then the Rite from memory. In the Rite their are 16 time changes on the first page of the score.
    In those days I couldn`t even remember the first five.
  14. gcbtrom

    gcbtrom Member

    Cheers for the responses everyone.

    Very helpful. Only issue is being on an island :(

    I find it quite ironic that as soon as I post something about a "possible" change, the reason behind the change seems to qome back to life and actually played pretty well at a rehearsal after I had posted this.

    However, still keen on getting some sort of experience as it might help with my composing too, to understand how to direct things etc...

    Martyn in London - will send you a PM in due course - be better than trying to have a convo on here.

    Still happy for suggestions though :)
  15. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    One serious answer is the centre for brass band studies at Durham university, Ray Farr is on faculty there
  16. 0VU

    0VU New Member

    Rather like saying that brass bands don't just "like a clear, concise beat, with a very definite down beat." they need one!
  17. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Actually, my emphasis was done using the word "very". In many good bands you could get away with a less definite downbeat. Not all bands - especially if they know their conductor well will cope with all sorts of deviations. Your pickiness isn't really very helpful to the OP.

    gcbtrom: Your best bet is to try the NABBC. I believe they also run a correspondence course, though I don't know how this works for conducting. As you are a bit isolated on Guernsey (or wherever) this might be useful for you. The fees for joining aren't crippling at £30 a year, so I'd give that a go.

    As for conducting from memory and knowing the score, it will take hours of study so give it a go as this will help your musical memory greatly. Ironically, though my memory for other things is fading rapidly, I can still conduct many pieces from memory and I'm pretty quick to learn new pieces. Music seems to stick in my head quite well - what day it is doesn't! :roll:
  18. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    Some things that have helped me over the years:

    Get a mentor - for most contests I have conducted over the last 20 years, I have had at least 1 all day rehearsal with my mentor firstly observing myself conducting the work then having the rest of the day watching him.

    Secondly, I wouldn't get fixated on just brass band conducting courses - look at the orchestral world. (type Bernstein in YouTube for example!).I was lucky to be sat 4 rows back from the pit at Glyndebourne a couple of years ago and watched Mackerras who managed most of the opera without looking at the score too often.
    As you are some distance away from a lot of this, the web is likely to be one of your ways of learning some of this. Whilst I haven't reviewed all of the videos in this series, there's a lot here:

    I leave you with this:

  19. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    I also like this one - the concept of only needing one hand is not just for Bernstein - Beecham also suggests similar in his book.

    There's a great moment when he forgets he's only meant to be using 1 hand and then remembers!

  20. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    a couple more things,
    being a good player will not necessarily make you a good conductor. In fact I think it is a hinderance, good players often can't understand why other players can't do what they want them to do- this leads to frustration and some of the responses note above
    Secondly, just do it, find a band that is willing to let you conduct them, explain that you are new to it (after all we were all learners once) choose some simple straightforward music and enjoy it