The art of Conducting Part 1

So i have been thinking about what i can blog about and thought that i would try and give you an insight into the life and art of being a conductor of a band. This is the art purely from my own perspective, but i just wanted to offer a small picture of what we do.

How do you start as a conductor? Well thats a good question. I started my musical career as a percussionist and was asked to step in and conduct a youth band concert with only three weeks of rehearsals based purely on the fact that i could hold a beat and count to four!! (Just) After this first experience i fell in love with the art of being a conductor and explored it more. So what is is about? And why the appeal? Well, I like to express myself, through music. I like to create and being a percussionist i felt that i was always able to express myself more than other instruments so to then control a whole band seemed a logical next step.

Being a musician is more than just playing the black notes, but being a conductor to me is how you manage to have every individual musician express your vision and create the story i believe the music tells. Its more than waving your arms, it’s taking the audience to a place they have not been before. It’s about provoking emotions in the audience which brings back memories. Every conductor will have his or her own interpretation of the music and want the band to express differently at different stages of the music and this is why rehearsals are so important.

For example; Whilst playing a beautiful piece of music such as Elgars’ Nimrod from his Enigma variations, having the band tell your story is what is so imprtant. Whilst playing as part of the Last Post Ceremony at The Menin Gate last year i asked the band to think about the surroundings and what our performance was representing at that moment in time in front of 1500 people. The setting, the emotion and the interpretation was just phenomenal. The best performance of this piece of music ever.

So, this is what i feel being a conductor is to start with. I feel it is about the passion to want to interpret, explore and express music for an audience. Before any pieces are chosen for any programme, to step into the world of conducting is wanting to tell a story and i firmly believe that if you are passionate about standing in front of 50 musicians, controlling, leading and directing them as if they are an extension of you emotionally, mentally and even physically then start conducting!

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