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Corwin Slack

Conductors

September 29, 2007 at 1:21 AM

I am playing in an orchestra again and I have become conscious of "conductors" again after a fairly long hiatus. I think about what I like and don't like. I'll try to be positive. These are some of the characteristics of good conductors.

1. Efficient rehearsal technique: They can teach music quickly and efficiently. They don't waste time on things that are not working. Instead they find another way to teach it. They always say who is to play, what we are to play (e.g "first and second violins at measure 78 through the double bar"). They also rehearse continuity and transitions.

2. They speak in music. They use words like forte, piano, crescendo, ritardando, staccatto, legato. (as opposed to words like shimmer, glow, sparkle etc.)

3. The have a measure of understanding of the technique of each instrument. (They don't say spicatto at the tip.)

4. They have an ear. They tell you the note that is out of tune and the direction it is out of tune (sharp or flat). They can even describe a sequence of notes with direction of the intonation adjustment. (No cheating and just saying that something is out of tune.)

5. They can teach sonority. They can balance chords.

6. They enjoy conducting the classics.

And many more.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 4:55 AM
Aw, I like a good metaphor now and then. But not too many conductors can use them effectively.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 5:32 AM
A good conductor gives you the feeling that he is your comrade-in-arms. None of this him vs us stuff. A good conductor is also a good teacher of how the music should sound and a person who elicits your respect, caring, and enthusiasm. This is a tall order to fill, and I have been blessed with one such conductor for several years.
From Ben Clapton
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 8:44 AM
I think that a good conductor is really judges by his metaphors. Sure, he needs to know how to use the musical language, but he also needs to know the metaphors. There is a large difference between a shimmering tremolo, a ghostly tremolo and a menacing tremolo, yet if he relied solely on musical language he would only use tremolo.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 5:51 PM
One of my favorite conductors -- a Russian -- was such a master of metaphor, but also of technique: tuning the woodwinds, working through the violin passages, giving us the exact right cue from the stick. But when he told us, in a certain passage in Shostakovich 8, "You are in Siberia, in the winter, and the bus...is not...coming..." We all just GOT it. Or during that schmaltzy part of Mahler 1 in the slow movement, "So sweet, it's ROTTEN!"

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