3. Conducting Skills and Artistry
As a conductor, you will need to develop sharp skills in a number of disciplines. Your aural ability, your gesture, and your ability to connect with people through music are key. Also, a conductor is both a leader and an artist, and you will be expected to lead with clarity and vision, and to contribute interesting artistic and personal points of view.
- Conducting technique is one of a conductor’s core competencies. Your gestures must be clear when clarity is needed and alluring when inspiration is needed. Knowing when to lead, and when to let go is key, and mature maestros are often able to lead with surprisingly minimal effort. This takes a lot of practice and to achieve such maturity, you need courage, curiosity, time, and opportunity. Developing an engaging and effective conducting technique, which at the same time is personal and authentic, is a manifestation of the art of conducting.
- Rehearsal technique is another crucial conductor competency. Leading the ensemble in preparation for a performance with confidence, competence, efficiency and utilising a constructive, inclusive, and positive process is our goal. Understanding precisely – at any given point of the process – exactly what is needed to achieve further progress and to achieve the best possible concert requires a conductor who truly connects with both the music and the musicians. The conductor must be able to use their gestures and verbal instruction to build an effective and compelling narrative – one that carries over from the rehearsal process and into the musical performance. The successful conductor understands the psychology of the rehearsal process and is sensitive and adaptable throughout, constantly re-adjusting the approach to maximise results.
- Your ear, that is to say, your aural ability must be highly developed, not only registering details of harmony, dynamics, intonation, and precision, but also being able to detect subtle nuances of articulation, colour, and balance. Having an outstanding ear is an essential skill for all conductors.
- Inner ear. You must have a strong inner ear. The ability to imagine a detailed internal sonic model of the score is a prerequisite of defining your own qualitative standards and musical interpretation.
- Being an artist is another key factor in defining you as a conductor, especially at the professional music industry level. The ability to generate inspired performances and engaging interpretations is perhaps the single most important measure of a real maestro. What is your artistic perspective? What is your artistic profile? How does your artistry define or differentiate you? What is your artistic pedigree? On the shoulders of which giants do you stand? Or are you more of a disrupting artist, bringing new, revolutionary concepts to the table? For conductors, these types of questions would typically be highly relevant in terms of career choices or developing a professional profile related to genre, repertoire, interpretation style or temperament.