6.2 Masterclasses and Competitions
Available to most, regardless of the amount of official training one has had, is the opportunity to participate in free-standing courses, masterclasses and competitions. To be considered for such events, you will typically have to send a CV and a video recording of yourself conducting.
The secret to becoming a well-rounded and respected conductor is closely linked to the amount of experience you have gained while working with an ensemble. Experience is not something you can just acquire, you earn it step by step every time you are on the podium. Conductors at the beginning of their training most often do not have an orchestra to practise with outside of academic programmes and conducting opportunities with orchestras are usually hard to come by at first. As a result, masterclasses and competitions can be important avenues for gaining invaluable experience of standing on the podium in front of an orchestra.
Competitions can be seen as a way to enhance repertoire and increase public profile. Although there are many reasons to argue against music competitions (“there is no good and bad in music”, “you can’t put a prize on music”), many consider competitions to be an important pathway to success. Competitions may after all allow young conductors to showcase their hard work and talent, create important business connections, form creative partnerships and stimulate media and public interest.
Both masterclasses and competitions can also be a source of motivation and self-reflection as they expose the participants to fellow talent. By observing the work of their peers, they will have the opportunity to analyse and evaluate their technique and interpretations compared to other conductors from a wide variety of backgrounds.