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Thread: I really need help becoming a conductor

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    Default I really need help becoming a conductor

    I’m 16 years old and have been studying and practicing conducting for a few months now. I feel very passionate about conducting and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to end up in this field. I really need advice on how to progress. I’m thinking of going into violin or piano in college, and then go for conducting. I’ve seen some vague guides, but I’m really looking for some true help and how I can make it all the way there. I know I seem frantic it’s just this is my dream. Thank you so much for the help.

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    Senior Member EddieRUKiddingVarese's Avatar
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    I'd say go for Violin, as the bow is good for conducting- not so easy with a piano

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I doubt that the instrument you choose will have much to do with it, e.g.

    John Barbirolli - cello
    Simon Rattle - timpani
    Andris Nelsons - trumpet
    Barbara Hannigan - soprano

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    I remember once reading a book by Sir Adrian Boult on the art of conducting. Well worth a read if you can find a copy. I remember him saying you need to play several instruments.

    It's called 'Thoughts on Conducting'
    Last edited by Star; Jan-07-2018 at 21:55.

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    I should clarify that I’ve played both for around 11 years each, that’s why I’m choosing one of those two. I’m looking for advice on how to expand my conducting skills and how to build a career once in college more than which instrument to choose.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    In Richard Osborn's book, 'Conversations with Karajan', HvK (who was a pianist) says that the important thing is not to be able to play each and every instrument - as he says you would never be as good as your best players - but to understand what each instrument is capable of.

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    get as much orchestra playing experience as you can.....you will observe many conductors....most ok, average, adequate, some really good, some really terrible. Study, make note of the things they do - what is effective, what is a waste of time.

    Conducting is very demanding, very difficult - you must know the entire score, every part, you must have a clear concept in your mind of what you want to hear, before it is even played. you must quickly isolate, identify, and fix problems....you must budget time very carefully...
    most important - you must have the self-confidence, the strength of ego to get some 80 odd musicians to play a piece the way you want it played - because each of them thinks that they know it better. Have a clear idea of what you want, and be able to express it directly and succinctly.
    Orchestra musicians will not suffer fools - so Reiner's advice is most applicable - <never get in front of an orchestra unless you know exactly what you are doing, and what you want to do>> [sorry, I don't have the exact quote]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    get as much orchestra playing experience as you can.....you will observe many conductors....most ok, average, adequate, some really good, some really terrible. Study, make note of the things they do - what is effective, what is a waste of time.

    Conducting is very demanding, very difficult - you must know the entire score, every part, you must have a clear concept in your mind of what you want to hear, before it is even played. you must quickly isolate, identify, and fix problems....you must budget time very carefully...
    most important - you must have the self-confidence, the strength of ego to get some 80 odd musicians to play a piece the way you want it played - because each of them thinks that they know it better. Have a clear idea of what you want, and be able to express it directly and succinctly.
    Orchestra musicians will not suffer fools - so Reiner's advice is most applicable - <never get in front of an orchestra unless you know exactly what you are doing, and what you want to do>> [sorry, I don't have the exact quote]
    Thank you, this is incredibly helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trepanian View Post
    I’m 16 years old and have been studying and practicing conducting for a few months now. I feel very passionate about conducting and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to end up in this field. I really need advice on how to progress. I’m thinking of going into violin or piano in college, and then go for conducting. I’ve seen some vague guides, but I’m really looking for some true help and how I can make it all the way there. I know I seem frantic it’s just this is my dream. Thank you so much for the help.
    I am sure they will help you at college, see how the flow goes and stop worrying.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    I doubt that the instrument you choose will have much to do with it, e.g.

    John Barbirolli - cello
    Simon Rattle - timpani
    Andris Nelsons - trumpet
    Barbara Hannigan - soprano
    Interesting list.
    Allow me to complement it:

    Harnoncourt, Toscanini, Barbirolli - Cello ("Ignoring" Rostropovich and Casals skills as conductors)
    Maazel, Dudamel - Violin
    Giulini - Viola (and Violin)

    and so on.

    For sure, the type/nature of the instrument won't have much to do with OP's dream...
    Last edited by shadowdancer; Jan-08-2018 at 17:55.
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    Hi,

    I am also 16! I fully understand the naivety of youth and the accompanying burdens. I am currently developing my conducting career and technique and have conducted professional orchestras in the past, and certainly the future ( I've got an old pic of me conducting on my profile page that I haven't bothered to update ). An example of one of the afore mentioned burdens: time. In the latter half of my high school life, I am busy with grades, band, girls, etc, etc.. I began to loathe anything to do with conducting, sight singing, composing, et alios. You might also encounter this, if you haven't already. Part of being a man/( or woman ) is that you will need to do things you don't feel like doing in spite of the bigger picture.

    In most cases you cannot officially study conducting until graduate school, which I was too impatient for. I felt that " artist's demon ', and it was a constant bother most of my high school life. This is difficult to describe, and my feelings for music are deeply personal and scarcely shared with others.

    I'd be happy to answer questions if you're still actively browsing this forum.
    Would it save everybody a lot of time if I gave up and went mad now?

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    Senior Member Pugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vox Gabrieli View Post
    Hi,

    I am also 16! I fully understand the naivety of youth and the accompanying burdens. I am currently developing my conducting career and technique and have conducted professional orchestras in the past, and certainly the future ( I've got an old pic of me conducting on my profile page that I haven't bothered to update ). An example of one of the afore mentioned burdens: time. In the latter half of my high school life, I am busy with grades, band, girls, etc, etc.. I began to loathe anything to do with conducting, sight singing, composing, et alios. You might also encounter this, if you haven't already. Part of being a man/( or woman ) is that you will need to do things you don't feel like doing in spite of the bigger picture.

    In most cases you cannot officially study conducting until graduate school, which I was too impatient for. I felt that " artist's demon ', and it was a constant bother most of my high school life. This is difficult to describe, and my feelings for music are deeply personal and scarcely shared with others.

    I'd be happy to answer questions if you're still actively browsing this forum.

    Bless you , that's so nice, let hope you get in contact with each other.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vox Gabrieli View Post
    In most cases you cannot officially study conducting until graduate school, which I was too impatient for. I felt that " artist's demon ', and it was a constant bother most of my high school life. This is difficult to describe, and my feelings for music are deeply personal and scarcely shared with others.

    I'd be happy to answer questions if you're still actively browsing this forum.
    I'm a professional conductor and am about 50 years older than you.

    The "artist's demon" hasn't left me alone vey often during my career - but you get used to it. As you get older, you tend to get a little complacent because you've conducted this symphony or that concerto so many times. The "demon" can be really helpful here because it shakes you out of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid of your demon - get to know it well and respect it rather than fear it.

    Up thread, Heck148 posted a really important and useful comment about playing as much as you can in as many orchestras as you can. Add choirs to that, because vocal training is also a critical skill.

    He also wrote about knowing works inside out. When I'm preparing a score, I try to learn every part by imagining I'm playing it. That way, you discover the pitfalls, work out the bowings and breathing and know the music from the players' perspective. Pro players can be very difficult and demanding - so be honest with them. Don't pretend you know the best way to pedal a harp or play harmonics on a 'cello, for example. They will find you out if you blag.

    And most of all, keeping loving music!

    Good luck in all you do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vox Gabrieli View Post
    Hi,

    I am also 16! I fully understand the naivety of youth and the accompanying burdens. I am currently developing my conducting career and technique and have conducted professional orchestras in the past, and certainly the future ( I've got an old pic of me conducting on my profile page that I haven't bothered to update ). An example of one of the afore mentioned burdens: time. In the latter half of my high school life, I am busy with grades, band, girls, etc, etc.. I began to loathe anything to do with conducting, sight singing, composing, et alios. You might also encounter this, if you haven't already. Part of being a man/( or woman ) is that you will need to do things you don't feel like doing in spite of the bigger picture.

    In most cases you cannot officially study conducting until graduate school, which I was too impatient for. I felt that " artist's demon ', and it was a constant bother most of my high school life. This is difficult to describe, and my feelings for music are deeply personal and scarcely shared with others.

    I'd be happy to answer questions if you're still actively browsing this forum.
    So sorry for late response, just saw your message now. For an update to everyone, I have met with a professional conductor to talk for a long while about my dream (I don’t want to disclose too much information) and it was tremendously helpful. I am now on the right track to a conducting career. I would love to chat more with you Vox Gabrieli if you are still active.

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