Despite what is written below this post I have been observing conductors for a long time. I accept that many are competent,but how much do you think they effectively add to a Band's performance?
Perhaps it would help if players said what it is they found helpful/unhelpful in a conductor. Or do players just accept 'this is the way it is' and get on with playing?


I think the conductor should ask for input from some band members but then again some of the heads of section dont seem to encourage the rest of their section which makes it doubly difficult for the MD.

Roger Thorne

Active Member
Interesting thread this, especially being an MD, but can I just remind people to try not to mention names, particularly if your comments aren't too favourable. :roll:

I look forward to reading your comments with interest.



Active Member
Our conductor is wicked. If it wasnt for him bouncin, swayin, jumping and wangling his arms about at the front of the stage wed just be a bunch of people playing music not in time. The bloke in the middle also chooses most of the music but yea he does take suggestions and he organises stuff for the band to do like concerts and stuff that are different.
At this point in time he also puts up with annoying messages at four in the morning but i dont think most conductors do that.
He also gets people to come to jobs more often.
I suppose it all depends on the style of the MD. one MD i had once would listen to the comments from the players, whilst another would just listen to the principle player or no players at all.

i tend just to accept what my current MD does as he has put a lot of effort into reforming the band and into organising stuff. But if MD's didnt take any input from anyone, then how can they run the band properly?
i played a concert at uni last year and the next practice the conductor went round the whole band asking what each player thought, we didnt get much playing done but it was really good to hear all the different views of the performance.

the one thing i really cant stand in a conductor is when the band plays a piece really bad and the conductor doesnt go through it at all and it goes into the concert anyway, i've played in a lot of bands like this and it drives me nuts but i wouldnt dream of asking the conductor to go through it again because i feel it would come across as questioning his/her conducting abilities, but i do think conductors should ask players for more feedback than they do!!!

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
As a relative new (Well it's been 12 months now, so does that make me "old hat??") conductor, I have worked hard both opn my band, and on myself in an effort to improve. Feedback from the bands shows they feel I am a good motivator, with a great tempterment. At a recent conductor's workshop, I was told I had a lot to offer band and great ideas, even though my stick technique may not be A grade.

As a player, I've found conductors that try to stick to one style of music too much a bit offputting. I try hard to get a varied program, even if my band sometimes disappoves of my selections (the dynamics in Hymn to the Fallen tiffs off many!!). Also I have played in bands where the conductor has no long-term memory, he is always fiddling with things. that's great if you like to play different parts, but sometimes you just feel you wish you could spend more time on a part/instrument!

Maybe it's because I have worked with so many higher grade bands and their conductors, that I get very dismayed with lower grade conductors. Admittedly, I conduct a lower grade band, but sometimes there are people who are "filling in" by waving the stick and they have no rehearsal skills or stick technique. It's distracting as a player when you try to follow the beat you see when the band has decided they like another speed/style or whatever.


Active Member
I like a conductor who is part of the band rather than just the man in the middle. I would rather work for someone who is completely involved in the social side of the band than someone who turns up at 7:50 and leaves at 9:50. Obviously a little musical knowledge helps, as does good stick technique but it has to be someone who understands the players and knows how to control their personalities.


Active Member
I think we landed on our feet with our new conductor (well we'd want to considering how long it took to find him!!) because he definitely has good ideas about moving the band on, but is always in the pub after rehearsal so we can bombard him with our own flashes of inspiration!

Dave Payn

Active Member
Always good to listen to constructive input from players, and as a conductor, I encourage that from within. Nevertheless, it shouldn't be overdone, because in the end, the danger is you could be in a state of confusion with your own musical credo. Maintaining that is imperative, whilst always being prepared to take other snippets of info on board.

2nd man down

Staff member
Ours has boundless enthusiasm, a good grasp of the type of music people want to hear from a band of our stature and is always willing to listen to what the band have to say (If only some of the band members realised that!). Just a shame about his choice of football team but there you go!

We found a top bloke in Ploughboy, long may he remain MD of Emley.
2nd man down said:
Ours has boundless enthusiasm, a good grasp of the type of music people want to hear from a band of our stature.

I think this is partly due to him being close in age to most of the band.

2nd man down said:
We found a top bloke in Ploughboy, long may he remain MD of Emley.

Here here!


Active Member
A good conductor makes a massive difference. You need someone who knows what they want and how to explain that idea to the players and make them achieve it. A good conductor can synchronise each player's musical style and experssion and that is the secret of a good performance.


With many conductors I've played under I have found that you just end up having to keep your head down and play. This is not a good thing and all the more noticeable when you get a good conductor in the middle and the explosion in potential from the players can be astonishing. The band becomes tight, focused, counting and listening to each other.

What I have found, as with many things in life, is that the real make or break with a conductor isn't necessarily their ability or education its the completely immeasurable feature of presence. Some people can command a room or a group of people without appearing to try. They don't need to descend into histrionics to get the attention of the band, they don't need to single out players to gain the respect of the other players, they just stand in the middle and people listen and try their best to perform what is requested. There appears to be a clarity in the conductors wishes and direction that the players both sense and hear. This is not to say that anyone with presence can conduct. A measure of technical ability is required but technical ability is not the be all and end all of a good conductor.

I do think that the brass band movement both suffers and gains considerably from your true amateur conductors. Without people willing to try to conduct many, many bands would just fold. As with everything some true amateur conductors are superb, basically have innate musical ability (this is not necessarily playing ability on their chosen instrument). More often than not their innate ability is aided by having "presence".

I think the main problem is that a lot of amateurs appear to be lost to the suggestion that it is just the stick that does the conducting and not the brain.

What makes a good conductor?
Presence in the middle
Respect for me as a player
Which gives them respect from me as player
Musical ideas
Ability to direct me clearly to achieve those ideas
Ability to listen to me
Ability to critisise me without ridiculing me

These are the things I like to see in a conductor


Active Member
2nd man down said:
We found a top bloke in Ploughboy, long may he remain MD of Emley.

Yea definately. I wouldnt say boundless enthusiasm though its just enthusiastic
2nd man down said:
We found a top bloke in Ploughboy, long may he remain MD of Emley.

Stop it, his head is big enuff already

although I do agree

He tells us when we've not done so good, but also thanks us all when we've done well

Keep it up Ploughboy!


Our conductor is cool! He's fun but also serious at the right times, we have a right laugh at band! Which is good because after all it is only a hobby, ok a hobby that takes up 90% of your life! :lol:

It's good because he lets anyone suggest things and will try them out, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't but he doesn't get all sulky and shout if you can't play it, just tries to encourage the best out of people.

Plus, he get's out a good selection of music which some conductors I've played under haven't got a clue about! Ok, I like the odd hymn tune but not 23 in a row!

As long as you try your best in our Band, then he's a happy chappy, if you don't then look out! :twisted:
I've always disliked playing under conductors who get "personal" in rehearsal and pick on the same players just to hide their own inadequacies! The finest conductors, in my opinion, are the ones who command respect without shouting and bawling all the time and speak to you in musical terms as opposed to being patronising. When they do get angry though, watch out!

I hope these aren't things that I do as a conductor....

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