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Thread: How does one BECOME a conductor?

  1. #1
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    Default How does one BECOME a conductor?

    Hey guys, I'm really sorry if this is an immature question, but then again, I am only a high-school student.

    Right now, I play the piano (currently working for ARCT diploma with the RCM), and considering I'm only halfway through high-school, I think I've still got plenty of time to decide my future career. I'm an avid classical musician/music fan, and I've really wanted to be more involved with this art, especially having a career in this field. I've considered many options, and one that does seem really appealing to me is being an orchestra conductor.

    How does one become an orchestra conductor? I've heard that it takes quite a lot of luck to make it that far, along with plenty of experience and education..but that's basically all I know right now. Would anyone care to fill me in on some more info?

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    when i was in grad school on arkansas, there was an undergrad music/music ed student who wold drive to little rock for private lessons with the conductor of the arkansas symphony. after he got out of grad school himself he eventually became an assistant conductor of the philadelphia orchestra.

    i also know an applied trombone teacher who got his doctorate in conducting, helped found a regional orchestra, and has been its conductor for 30 years.

    i would say keep mastering the fundamentals of your chosen instrument as you continue your search for answers. check with orchestras in your area. church music directors would also have some info to share.

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    Junior Member PicklePepperPiper's Avatar
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    Contacts, contacts, contacts and again, contacts. They really help your vision, and in my opinion are much better than glasses

    No but seriously, you want to get to know the people in your area. You want to take a course a music university. You want to listen to lots of classical, broaden your range as much as possible. Get familiar with the big names in conducting, understand why they're famous, what makes them distinctive.

    Listen to as many interpretations of pieces as you can - you must be a sponge, soak everything in, then squeeze what you will out when it comes time to developing your own style.

    An extremely huge general knowledge of music is helpful - you should also invest quite a bit of time in study of music thoery, and of the different types of instruments so as a conducter you earn the respect of the musicians, by not telling string players to use their embouchres (out of ignorance), for example.

    As you have correctly identified, there's quite a bit of luck involved - however with the right contacts, the ability to work with others and lots of personal investment in your musical education, you might do well ;-)

    EDIT: I just realised I actually didn't answer your question - as to how one BECOMES a conducter, ******** if I know

    -PPP

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    Interesting question.

    I used to sing in an excellent large choir, Crouch End Festival Chorus. This started many years ago with a one-off performance of the Verdi Requiem, and the conductor, David Temple, simply made himself the conductor, as I understand it. Over several decades he has taken the choir from strength to strength. I believe he was largely self taught, and from that fact I deduce an essential lesson.

    To be a good conductor you have to be a leader. You have to be good with people. Music skills, knowledge and experience are likely to be taken for granted. It is the interpersonal ability - by which I include all sorts of factors often labelled "personal chemistry" - which makes the difference. After all, it is not in the concert that the "conducting" takes place. It's in the rehearsals and other preparation that the performance is shaped.

    So, maybe follow David's example, and find a group of players or singers who need a conductor - or find a pretext on which to mount a concert - and go from there.

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Definitely contacts, my music teacher at school found me a piano teacher who also happened to be a composer. She then got me in touch with conductors, one of whom now teaches me.

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    I have the same ambition and the way I have choosen is to: learn, learn, learn and go to conducting contest in forthcoming may, win it and learn, perform (they say that if you win contest you are invited to perform in at least few places), learn and go to another, very prestigious conducting contest, win it and perform, perform, perform.

    Simple

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    Many of the great conductors started out by working as rehearsal pianists at opera companies.
    This is great training for a conductor. Traditionally,after working with the singers at rehearsals,they might be assigned to conduct offstage bands at performances,which are quite common in opera, and then they would start to be assigned operas to conduct.
    Examples of conductors who started out this way have included Solti, Leinsdorf, Erich Kleiber and his son Carlos, Furtwangler, Szell, Walter,Steinberg, and many others.
    Being a rehearsal pianist,or repetiteur as it's called in Europe,also brings you into contact with great conductors by assisting them and advancing your career.

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    I forgot to add that after starting as opera conductors after working as rehearsal pianists,many
    great conductors later branched out into orchestral conducting.

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    Piano skills are very important - keep it up. I really reccomend playing in an orchestra - you will learn so much from seeing others conduct, and really feeling as part of the orchestra what works and what creates a problem. Everyone has their own path. Good luck!
    Some Truths about Life in an Orchestra
    http://orchestralmusician.blogspot.com/

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    You are already studying music through the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto. If you go for a degree in music there, I am quite sure that part of the program teaches conducting. Classical music degrees through universities (orchestral) I believe include conducting as part of the program. If you plan to teach high school band, you would have to study conducting, as every music teacher who teaches in band in a high school must be trained to conduct. Also, some conductors teach conducting to private students. My late husband studied conducting in England with Sir Adrian Boult. So I think you should be able to find a conductor who teaches private conducting lessons. Inquire at the RCMT - they will guide you.

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