Why a Professional and Resident Conductor?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Charmed, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    This may appear to some a daft question, but having thought about it a lot I wondered what the benefit was of having a professional conductor. Is it because the resident is not 'good enough' to take a band to a major contest? Is it because the Professional would be preferable full time but not available or not affordable? Do players find it difficult rehearsing regularly under one conductor and then having another one step in a few weeks before a contest? Or are the players more receptive, do they concentrate more when a Professional conductor steps in?

    What are the advantages to a band engaging a professional conductor short term? And are there any disadvantages?

    This is a serious question, I am genuinely interested in the answers and not 'having a go' as some may percieve. :)
  2. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Also as an additional question - why can conductors have several bands. Why don't they have to work under the same registration rules as the players - aren't they members of the band too?
  3. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Not in the bands I have been in. They are treated as non members, they have overall control of musical direction and band selection, but don't have voting rights. In all but one case, the relationship was friendly enough that the MD was co-opted onto the committee.
  4. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Having been resident conductor to Ken Dennison, I would comment that both the band and the resident get a real benefit out of this arrangement.

    For the band: The ability to work with a top class conductor without having to pay him/her every week. Also, the band responded better to him when he wasn't there every week. (Familiarity is less of an issue)

    For the Resident: An opportunity to learn from a master. I personally attribute any success I have had as a conductor to the "apprenticeship" I served as resident to Ken.

    A "Win/Win"!

    On the second point, I don't agree conductors need to be registered. I consider the band I conduct to be the members' band, not "my" band. Conductors come and go - the band will outlive each and every one of them. I have no issue as a player with my MD conducting another band - if anything, it addsa little more spice to the contest!
  5. Andy Moore

    Andy Moore Member

    You could argue that players come and go too, though.
  6. David Francis

    David Francis Member

    All of what you say to yourself is true. Basically, if a band gets someone else in, then it means that they have no confidence in the ability of the resident conductor. One can coat the pill however one wishes , but there is no other complexion one can use to explain the situation.
    However, we will be festooned by differing reasons why professional conductors are engaged. Of couse it will all be moonshine as oppoed to bullxxxx.
    Dai Francis
  7. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    That may be your personal experience, it isn't mine.
    Indeed, I was later appointed as MD of that band with no professional conductor on the scene.
    Obviously, I'm not talking about a position with one of the top bands here but the principle is the same.
    I think you'll find I did offer an alternative and valid view.

    Whilst my current band, a Scaba 2nd section band, aren't the sort of bnd who would engage a professional, I did introduce the use of one myself twice a year. The main comment I get from the members is that he says exactly the same things that I do. And getting that re-inforcement from someone who is considered to have been a major player in the banding world is worth its weight in gold.
  8. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I must qualify my comments here beforehand, by stating that this is somewhat relative to the level of band it applies to, but personally, I am generally against using a so called Professional who would come to rehearsals, usually quite late in the day, and take a band at contests / competitions.

    I am more for this regarding 1st and Championship section levels, and also for it if - at lower levels - the arrangement is for the Professional to come in to fine-tune and polish the piece. There is benefit in that.

    However, in 4th, 3rd, 2nd (and sometimes the 1st section) - using a so called Professional to take a band on the stage at the contest, after the resident MD has done all the graft, does absolutely nothing to develop the skills of the resident MD, and creates elitism - which I despise.

    Yes of course there are the great and the good and so called 'Pros' we all know that, but I ask... what makes a professional eh!!???
  9. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    I agree with that - it's what I do at Mid Sussex
    I'm afraid I have to disagree on this point though - as far as I am concerned, my skills have most definately been enhanced by working with a professional. I would also add that working as assistant conductor to a non professional has also been beneficial to me.
    I think we've done that debate to death elsewhere!
  10. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    I think we've been here before ..... Etymologically a professional is someone who "professes an oath" - and therefore should be restricted to the various legal and medical professions........ not just someone who happens to be a "clinician" ..... ;)

    As for conductors - there are lots of reasons for having the two tier system, and not simply that the "professional" is seen as being "better" but "more expensive" - a good "pro" may well just not be available every monday & thursday because of their own playing / other conducting engagements.

    I can think of several top "pro" conductors who aren't that good at getting a band to play in tune or at spending a few hours going through the piece while people learn the notes - and I can think of several excellent "band trainers" who are fantastic to work with and who CAN do these things but lack that little bit of extra sparkle for a winning performance. They are different jobs, and it's not surprising that at the top levels there are times when different people can do each job better.
  11. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    If the professional works with the resident MD, I can see how that would be greatly beneficial both to the MD and the band - everyone can stand to learn from other's experience.

    But I can also see John's point - if the resident MD does all of the hard work in preparation for a contest, and then the professional comes in for the actual event, that's potentially demoralizing for the MD.
  12. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    And I guess that's where I've been very fortunate. Both of the "professionals" I've worked did precisely that - worked with me. In the case of Don Morrison, it was unfortunately only for a short while. In the case of Ken Dennison, it is a relationship which I have been pleased to continue in other bands. Both are true gentlemen which is also a differentiator.
    I work in the world of Learning & Personal Development so maybe am more attuned to working in this way.
  13. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    @Andy: what I mean was that yes of course, resident MD skills would be developed by having him/her working with a professional who would take some rehearsals etc, but to then have much of the work done by the resident, to be taken on the stage by the professional doesn't allow the resident to put what has been learned into practice.

    The potential of a bands performance is attained in the bandroom - through hard work and determination. Bringing a pro in for on-stage is, in my opinion, not particularly advantageous to the band or resident.
  14. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    There are occasions where the band may feel that their regular conductor - whatever title you choose to use - is not comfortable, or has not the required skills/expereince/desire to take the band on the contest stage. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this - and Roy Newsome's book on Black Dyke quotes some interesting incidents in this respect - it can lead to band and conductor seeming less than comfortable together on stage. This was evident on a couple of occasions where a band has seemed a different band under their resident Conductor at the Brass on Sundays concert following the Open, whereas they'd not been so impressive under someone else's baton on the previous day. It can also lead to a more than capable conductor missing out on the chance to win a few trophies, such has happened to Gary Cutt, for example.
  15. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I agree with some of that Peter i.e. that bringing in a fresh face for a contest often results in a more attentive band and perhaps a better performance. A fresh face per sé doesn't necessarily equate to someone calling themselves a 'Professional' though.
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    That wasn't actually what I said - or meant to say: I was saying that a band can seem less secure with an unfamiliar face in the middle, and it can sometimes be counterproductive, although there is something in what you've said as well ;)
  17. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    This is something I've often wondered about myself, and I find it hard to believe that it can work except at the highest level, but you only need to look at the likes of Grange Moor Band, who by their own admission have been through more resident conductors than I've had hot dinners in the last few years (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration there), but have managed to rise from non contesting (and then 4th) to 1st section in consecutive years under the professional baton of Duncan Beckley, and thats while he's been involved with 5 Rivers and Newstead Bands at the same time.

    It obviously works for some.
  18. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I think it is a good idea to use a pro in any section from 4th to Championship if only through the use of workshops with the band.

    My old band did it in 2005 for Butlins 4th section we Won, this year we didn't use a pro we came joint last.
    This is not a slur on the conductor or the band because with or without the pro the resident still had to hold the band together on stage all the pro did was to add a few of the finer point of the music from the point of view of an adjudicator.

    I also think the use of a pro no stage with a reasonable amout of rehearsals and involvement with the resident can work very well as I think a band tend to sit on the edge of their seats more with the pro than with the conductor they see week in week out and this can lead to a better performance in most cases
  19. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    You see, this is, personally, where I disagree to some extent. Yes, you may sit on the edge of your seat more with a conductor that you're not used to, but I'm one of those people that would hate for a 'professional' to come in the week or two before a contest and take the band on stage. Admittedly I can see how it would work for some 'top level' bands. But if you have the right 'gel' between the band and the conductor, the understanding between both of what he/she wants and what band members can give, the trust and faith in the conductor, why would you want to risk that by fetching in someone else who the band are not used to and perhaps not comfortable with? Maybe this is just the mentality of band people such as myself, who have risen through the sections with the same conductor and know that the conductor has enough experience and proven his capabilities.

    I would also wonder why we have retained a conductor if it was felt neccessary to bring in a professional to take us to a contest. In my opionion, if the resident is not good enough to take you to a contest then why is he/she good enough to rehearse, take to other engagements the rest of the time. But considering the amount of bands that do do this I was waiting for someone to convince me that this is not the case. So far, reading the responses, I have yet to be convinced!
  20. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I agree with you if it is the case of the pro coming in a week or two before the contest but if the pro comes in on a structured amount of rehearsals and involves the resident in the preparation of the music so that he/she can get something out of the experience and even get involved in maybe playing in with the band on percussion (which I have seen done before) then I think it does work well. At the end of the day it only works if everyone accepts this kind of structure to a band and everyone is working as a team and not just out for themselves.

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