So often we want more, so we do more. Whether it is pushing too hard on the string, clamping on the fingerboard, using too much bow, or even making gestures too big. The resulting effect seems to be the opposite of what we dream.
Last night I was conducting my middle school end-of-year concert. I have found in the past that even with middle school students, if I over conduct they tend to be sluggish and unresponsive. Yet, this concert I decided to do something different.
I decided to conduct much smaller than normal. My dynamics were half the size they used to be and my left hand was only used to accent beats as needed. I began to see my role as really a starter and reminder. I told my kids in the last rehearsal that I have no power to make the sound, and that they must be responsible for that.
The concert was one of the best I have had with my middle school kids ever. It was not perfect, but the kids did very well. Along with my intermediate and beginner groups, I started a chamber group this quarter. It was their debut night, and they performed amazingly!
While conducting smaller was not the only factor in their success, it reminds me that music is about the music. Not the talking, technique, or gestures that are so important. All those serve the music, and the less they draw our attention the more the music is served.
So the next time you are tempted to over play, conduct, or otherwise, remember less is more.
More entries: December 2013
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