Acquiring a Solid Conducting Technique with No Wasted Motion – From Harold Rosenbaum’s Book A Practical Guide to Choral Conducting

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July 19, 2018 by Admin

Harold Rosenbaum’s book, A Practical Guide to Choral Conducting, has been released by Routledge (available at https://www.routledge.com/A-Practical-Guide-to-Choral-Conducting/Rosenbaum/p/book/9781138058446). The following is an excerpt discussing how to acquire a solid technique with no wasted motion.

It is not enough to be smart, charming, demanding, detail oriented, to know a great deal of choral repertoire, to have very good ears, to know music theory and history, to be knowledgeable in all aspects of running a choral organization, and to treat your singers with respect. If your conducting technique is insufficient, you will lose the admiration of your singers and audience, not achieve the results you are after, and feel frustrated and inadequate. It may even affect your choice of repertoire if you are worried about certain passages that require crystal clear intent and instructions from you, multitasking, or rapidly changing gestures. This chapter focuses on exaggerated, inconsistent, distorted, and confusing motions that conductors often make that are both unnecessary and detrimental, plus the solutions to these problems. Correcting or averting them will make your singers more relaxed, confident, and able to follow you better, give you more confidence and preserve your energy, and allow you to have more control of any situation that might arise, from spontaneous shaping to correcting and preventing errors. Most of all, it will yield better musical results, for your movements and gestures will truly reflect, shape, and convey the music, leading to a deeply satisfying performance that unites all the components—composer, singers, and you—into a well-oiled machine. 

Perfect technique contains no wasted motion—no unnecessary or enlarged beats and no excessive hand, arm, and body movements. Some conductors erroneously believe that amateur or youthful singers will only see or respond to exaggerated motions, a notion which can do more harm than good, for a conductor employing them on a regular basis with his/her own choir will develop a technique that serves only that ensemble and therefore will be out of place, ineffective, and curious looking to other groups he/she might work with, and to singers who are now in your choir, but are in others as well. Other forms of wasted motion such as mouthing words, continually bending the knees, and conducting too high or too low only detract from the main conveyors of your message, your arms and hands. Furthermore, wasted motion from you will make it more difficult for your singers when they work with other conductors who utilize smaller, more concise, and more standard motions. 

Beauty, elegance, precision, clarity, energy, and expressiveness—these are the essential qualities and products of superior conducting, articulated with arms, hands, fingers, and facial expressions. Those conduits will feel most comfortable and free, and will capture your singers’ attention fully, when your entire body feels stable and balanced, and when you have good posture. To achieve this, your feet should be about a foot apart with the left foot slightly in front of the right. However, any variation that works for you is fine, provided you are standing upright with good posture. Once you have settled on your own comfortable stance, you are ready to begin practicing physical gestures. 

 

More about A Practical Guide to Choral Conducting, including ordering information, at https://www.routledge.com/A-Practical-Guide-to-Choral-Conducting/Rosenbaum/p/book/9781138058446. Visit Harold at http://www.haroldrosenbaum.com/.

 


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