Conducting workshop - why so little interest?

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I may have misunderstood your last sentence, but it seems to suggest that if I'm fearful of playing a solo / conducting, I'm not welcome in your band. Is that correct? And if I'm not fearful and instead, I've made the decision that I just don't want to play a solo, you'll assume it's because of fear and use amateur psychology to coach me over it?

If I was continuously encouraged (aka pestered, shamed for not) to play a solo or try conducting I'd become pretty annoyed over time and probably leave. I'm quite capable of deciding what I want out of banding / life without being questioned several times a year by someone that thinks they know better.
You did indeed misunderstand my last sentence.

Encouragement does not mean pestering and shaming individuals.

As I said in my earlier post the thread is going nowhere useful so I’m going to step back from it. As they say ‘you can take a horse to water ..........’.

All the best, 2T.
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
I wanted to conduct in my teenage years, and actually did an arrangement of a simple piece for our youth band on the proviso that I would be able to conduct it at the spring concert (which I did). At the time it was a bit of a flappy 2 arm mirror, I didnt have to worry about pauses and it was really only starting and stopping the band together

When I went to Salford I took a bit more interest in what conductors actually did, but developed a style by conducting along to a tape - I had a couple of tapes of Lloyd Webber Musicals and a piano score of each set of music - again it was following the music rather than leading it, but it did enable me to look more at the music, spot shapes, learn to cue etc
Around the same time I was offered the opportunity to dep for a mate in the middle of a wind band in Altrincham whilst he was on holiday. They were very understanding, gave me a lot of help and were probably instrumental in me developing the confidence to actually lead the band in the middle. I also took the number 2 position in a couple of local bands over the next few months which helped.

My own conducting style has now developed and I can recognise various influences, including the conductor of my old youth band and Dave King (who was in the middle of a couple of the Salford bands) amongst others. I appreciate that conducting is not for everyone but would thoroughly recommend it to any serious player as being a way to properly understand how a band works - the higher up you go, its not just about your own performance, its about mixing with others, and understanding what the MD is looking for. And the best way of understanding anything properly is to actually do the job yourself.

My own son is now wanting to conduct - at age 11 he's still developing as a player, but I have got the piano scores ready - its Alexa rather than a tape machine now though.......
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
You did indeed misunderstand my last sentence.
What did it mean then?


Encouragement does not mean pestering and shaming individuals.
This depends on perspective. I've told you mine and you've apparently chosen to ignore it. Other people's responses suggest I'm not alone in this regard.


You did indeed misunderstand my last sentence.

As I said in my earlier post the thread is going nowhere useful so I’m going to step back from it. As they say ‘you can take a horse to water ..........’.
The water that apparently keeps you alive is not healthy for this horse so I'm happy to not drink. x
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
I understand where you are coming from, but as you say You was the only one who enjoyed it, making people do things they don't enjoy is not encouragement
There is a difference between giving someone the chance to try something and forcing them to do it. No one was ever forced into anything, some liked it more than others.

I don't recall anyone ever complaining that they didn't want to do it, most were just ambivalent about it. Personally I looked forward to it, but as I recall most of the others just went along with it.
 

GER

Active Member
There is a difference between giving someone the chance to try something and forcing them to do it. No one was ever forced into anything, some liked it more than others.
If my reply made it sound as though people were being forced into doing it, I apologise, it was never my intention. Basically I meant there is a lot of difference between a conductor (a figure of authority, let's not forget that) saying 'right tonight we're all going to have a go at conducting' or 'right tonight anybody who wants a go at conducting is more than welcome to have a go'. I'm sure you will see the difference.
 

GER

Active Member
As I said in my earlier post the thread is going nowhere useful so I’m going to step back from it. As they say ‘you can take a horse to water ..........’.
Comments like this say more about the author than anyone else. I was enjoying the discussion until you decided to make it personal. I understood the forum to be a place for open discussion, perhaps others don't share that view
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
It does make me wonder why this forum often descends into personal arguments......

Is there a shortage of conductors? I dont think there is but there could well become a time in the near future when there could be if the new generation of players dont want to step into the middle

Should players conduct? In an ideal world everyone would have a go but ultimately for most this is a hobby and no-one should be forced to do something they really dont want to do. I would suggest however that those that dont conduct do miss something from their musical journey, even if its an understanding of how a band actually works or sounds from a different perspective.

As for me? Sometimes I love standing in the middle, sometimes I hate it. I take every bad contest result personally, whilst good results are due to my players. So there isnt a lot of personal glory in it, certainly in the lower sections, but I do get a buzz from being able to control how the music goes. I know for a fact that if I resigned from my current position chances are I would end up somewhere else.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Comments like this say more about the author than anyone else. I was enjoying the discussion until you decided to make it personal. I understood the forum to be a place for open discussion, perhaps others don't share that view
As I said I’m withdrawing from this thread. However I wouldn’t want you (or anyone else) to take any comment personally and I have tried to speak in general terms that could apply to anyone. So no offence intended and diasspointment on my part that I might have inadvertently given it. Please continue to enjoy the thread, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my words aren’t persuasive enough so I will leave it to others.

These days the forum is generally a place of open discussion and long may it stay so.
 
There is a difference between giving someone the chance to try something and forcing them to do it. No one was ever forced into anything, some liked it more than others.

I don't recall anyone ever complaining that they didn't want to do it, most were just ambivalent about it. Personally I looked forward to it, but as I recall most of the others just went along with it.
You have to be a bit careful when encouraging people to do new things musically, or letting them try. I have seen a number of players lose interest when they HAVE been allowed to do what they aspire to but cannot achieve, particularly with solo items. Nerves are the conductors enemy. Heart rate increases, timing goes, everything sounds too slow and it gets worse when things start to go wrong. Brass Band conducting style seems to differ from most in that like many conductors I bring the baton down and where it stops is the first beat. At a recent joint concert I found our local Choir mistress starts the first beat with a flick at the top and the SECOND beat is where the baton stops. Didn't stop the choir following my beat, but I don't think a band could follow her... Mind you I couldn't find a big enough Baton in our local music shop so I made one from a very large knitting needle and a handle cut from a chest expander.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Well, this thread seems to have gone way off the original topic - which was most emphatically NOT about whether people should conduct or not, whether people should be encouraged to conduct or not, or whether people should be pushed into conducting or not.

It was about people who do conduct already, or who would like to - and my puzzlement over why there was so little interest in a conducting workshop. After all, nobody would be the least surprised if a cornet player said they were going to have lessons from a music teacher, or were going to a workshop, so as to improve their playing skills - so why wouldn't people feel the same about wanting to improve their conducting skills?
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
To be fair some conductors are about as much use as a performing penguin, but its when things go wrong that sorts the wheat from the other stuff and I don't see how this can be taught in a seminar scenario.
Have you ever been to a conducting workshop, David? I have - the one run by Russell Gray, with my band, and I can assure you that the improvement in the participants was clearly audible.

MTA - I should point out that, before the workshop, the band were told by our MD that, in order to help the participants, and show them where they were getting it right or wrong, that they should play exactly as each conductor told them to play, even if they felt it was wrong - and leave it to Russell to explain to the participant how he or she should change their conducting to get a better performance from the band.
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
To be fair Jack, I would suggest very few long standing MDs would attend - not because they dont think they can improve what they do necessarily, but because beyond establishing a clear beat pattern, it is (I would suggest) more a case of how you relay ideas to a band, rather than being "technically correct". You only have to look at the different styles of conducting between, say Russell Gray, Nick Childs and Richard Evans to realise there is no real "right and wrong". I guess you could teach score reading, but to be honest the key here is preparation and learning the score, regardless of whether its a testpiece or a Bearnarts arrangement - if you know whats coming and what you want it to sound like that is more than half the battle.

Of more use - personally at least - is to get a different MD in front of the band for a rehearsal especially for a testpiece. Sometimes they will have new ideas that I hadnt thought about, and it makes the band concentrate more because they are dealing with a different face in the middle. However I would suggest there is little to learn about actually "conducting". Also a conducting workshop is not usually with your own band, so what works with the workshop group may not work with your own band, and vice versa.

I would go as far as saying that a conducting workshop is probably more a positive for someone that wants to try conducting, or is fairly new to doing it and hasnt worked out their own style of doing things yet - but thats only my view
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
@Euphonium Lite -
"it is (I would suggest) more a case of how you relay ideas to a band, rather than being "technically correct".
I don't know what happened in the first part of the conducting workshop, because I wasn't present (that was a classroom job, just for the participants). But when the participants were actually conducting the band, I'd say the lion's share of what they were getting from Russell was exactly what you've described - "how to relay ideas to the band". Bear in mind this is my opinion as an outside observer, so don't take it as gospel - but it appeared to me that what Russell was getting across to them was how to communicate with the band, and what would either help or hinder that communication, so that the band understood the overall interpretation that each conductor was aiming for, and could then play the piece accordingly. And, as I mentioned above, I could really hear the difference between the 'before and after' versions!

PS - if either Russell or any of the participants would like to add to or correct my impressions, please do so!

With best regards,

Jack
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
You have to be a bit careful when encouraging people to do new things musically, or letting them try. I have seen a number of players lose interest when they HAVE been allowed to do what they aspire to but cannot achieve, particularly with solo items. Nerves are the conductors enemy. Heart rate increases, timing goes, everything sounds too slow and it gets worse when things start to go wrong. Brass Band conducting style seems to differ from most in that like many conductors I bring the baton down and where it stops is the first beat. At a recent joint concert I found our local Choir mistress starts the first beat with a flick at the top and the SECOND beat is where the baton stops. Didn't stop the choir following my beat, but I don't think a band could follow her... Mind you I couldn't find a big enough Baton in our local music shop so I made one from a very large knitting needle and a handle cut fromu a chest expander.
I've seen a few bands do joint concerts with a choir, one that stands out was Cory and Morriston Male Voice Choir.

With the choir conductor conducting, Cory were all over the place, sounded like a youth band at times, yet the choir were fine, even when Harper was conducting them.

Even watching from the audience it was clear that both had very different techniques, either worked with the choir, but only one works with a band.

I've seen this happen every time a collaboration between a choir and a band happens to some degree.
In essence, choir conductors make poor band conductors.
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
I've seen a few bands do joint concerts with a choir, one that stands out was Cory and Morriston Male Voice Choir.

With the choir conductor conducting, Cory were all over the place, sounded like a youth band at times, yet the choir were fine, even when Harper was conducting them.

Even watching from the audience it was clear that both had very different techniques, either worked with the choir, but only one works with a band.

I've seen this happen every time a collaboration between a choir and a band happens to some degree.
In essence, choir conductors make poor band conductors.
Or is it that choirs are less reliant on conductors and use their ears and "group mind" to sing together?
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Or is it that choirs are less reliant on conductors and use their ears and "group mind" to sing together?
From shared Concerts the impression that I gain is that Choir Conductors don’t beat strick time. To me the gestures of Choir Conductors are more about the relative timing, rhythm and articulation of collective vocal expression in unison than providing a beat upon which the more complex music of Brass Bands is built by individual and indepentantly acting players. When the Band and Choir play together you’re typically OK if the Band is conducted in its normal way ‘cause the Band’s music provides the musical framework which guides and supports what the Choir add (just like when they sing along to a Piano).

That’s me out of this conversation again now. I’m glad that the thread has moved away from the (contentious) area that it had previously settled on, a comment on a different area shouldn’t upset anyone.
 
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Queeg2000

Active Member
My mother sings in a choir, doesn't read music and insists that the higher the conductor raises his hands the higher she has to sing.

Hardly surprising then that a choir conductor can't conduct a band. The choir conductor seems to actually have very little control over the choir and is actually just there to get them to start together then do a little dance that makes them feel important.
 
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Slider1

Active Member
My mother sings in a choir, doesn't read music and insists that the higher the conductor raises his hands the higher she has to sing.

Hardly surprising then that a choir conductor can't conduct a band. The choir conductor seems to actually have very little control over the choir and is actually just there to get them to start together then do a little dance that makes them feel important.
A bit like Harper then:):):)
 

fsteers

Member
The choir conductor seems to actually have very little control over the choir and is actually just there to get them to start together then do a little dance that makes them feel important.
A comment like that makes me suspect that you haven't regularly sung in many choirs, particularly ones in which membership is by audition.

Choral conducting is at least as much about shaping the vocal inflection to enhance the lyrics as it is shaping the musical line\. That's a skillset unto itself: one which band directors rarely need to develop.

One of the choirs I sing in is currently being conducted by the former long-time (14 years) Director of Bands at the Univ of North Carolina Chapel Hill, who is filling in while the regular Choir Director is on sabbatical. He's constantly remarking about how much harder choral conducting compared to instrumental conducting, because there's so much more going on musically that band directors don't have to think about. This coming from a guy who routinely conducted symphonic and marching bands of anywhere from 40-150 people.

In my experience as both a singer and a euphoniumist, choral conductors routinely over-conduct (as compared to normal practice/expectations) when conducting a band, and band directors routinely under-conduct when conducting choirs.
 
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