One of the essential attributes of a good conductor is not so much a conductor’s wand as a highly developed musical ear. The conductor should be able to separate the individual tones and chords in the polyphony of sounds, as well as be able to summarize them all together when reading the score. Conducting skills are only a matter of training and any musician who claims this role needs to master it perfectly. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the work that the conductor must do to prepare for rehearsal with the orchestra.
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The initial step in preparing the conductor for rehearsal is to analyze the score, which is given to the orchestra. It is necessary to define the content and genre of the work in connection with the work of the composer as a whole, the form of the work, and its tonal plan. It is necessary to understand the texture very carefully because, in the polyphony, one can meet with the homophonic-harmonic and polyphonic warehouse, as well as with their varieties. Serious attention is paid to the orchestration of the work because it is the key to the excellent sound of the play. However, It is worth noting that there is no single instruction for all conductors to work on the score. This is an individual creative process that depends on many personal factors, including experience. But without analysis, it is not recommended to put the parts on the remotes of the musicians and to stand at the conductor’s desk, replacing the in-depth knowledge of the score with improvisation on the spot.1 This approach negatively affects the quality of rehearsal and does not save time.
The next step in preparing the conductor for rehearsal is to create a rehearsal work plan for the class. A director needs a well-thought-out plan to make his or her work orderly and complete. Professional musicians have their style of work planning and paperwork as they gain experience.2 In general, the plan can be more or less detailed. Rehearsal actions mustn’t seem random or inconsistent. A clear rehearsal organization will discipline the orchestra and foster a sense of responsibility to the team.
A conductor must be able to interpret and change any music. It is quite an important task to understand music in the way that the composer put it into practice. This is the stage where the correction mechanism is usually activated to bring the real sound into line with the ideal model. The more emotional associations the conductor has, the richer the interpretation, the richer the vision of the performance.
In addition to analytical and artistic characteristics, any conductor should take into account the individual components of each musician, both personal, psychological, and concerning musical training. The conductor should work on manual technique, which implies working with mimics and gestures. Studies show that the emotional expressiveness of a conductor directly affects the quality of composition.3 It is essential to maintain the pace of rehearsal and not play the same piece more than two or three times, even if it does not suit the conductor.
From those mentioned earlier, it follows that all activity of the orchestra’s director is creative and organizational at the rehearsal. For each specific repetition, a different model is built in each case, based on their particular conditions of activity of the orchestra. The conductor, as the orchestra’s manager, is obliged to have an idea of the musicians included in it, and the level of their training. Without the creative organization of rehearsal, there can be no real understanding between conductor and orchestra, nor the realization of creative ideas.
Montemayor, Mark, and Brian A. Silvey. “Conductor Expressivity Affects Evaluation of Rehearsal Instruction.” Journal of Research in Music Education 67, no. 2 (2019): 133-152.
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Sharp, Timothy W. Precision Conducting: Seven Disciplines for Excellence in Conducting. London: Roger Dean Publishing Company, 2003.
Whitaker, Jennifer A. “Professional Orchestral Conductors’ Use of Selected Teaching Behaviors in Rehearsal.” International Journal of Music Education 35, no. 2 (2017): 165-174.
- Timothy W. Sharp, Precision Conducting: Seven Disciplines for Excellence in Conducting (London: Roger Dean Publishing Company, 2003), 28
- Jennifer A. Whitaker, “Professional Orchestral Conductors’ Use of Selected Teaching Behaviors in Rehearsal,” International Journal of Music Education 35, no. 2 (2017): 166.
- Mark Montemayor and Brian A. Silvey, “Conductor Expressivity Affects Evaluation of Rehearsal Instruction,” Journal of Research in Music Education 67, no. 2 (2019): 134.