Soft Skills and Artistry
Soft skills may be defined as interpersonal, intrapersonal and non-technical skills, or the sum of different character traits. Conducting technique, rehearsal strategies and musicianship may be seen as the “hard skills” of conducting. Soft skills are equally important and allow you to interact successfully with others, inspire the people you work with and help constitute a successful practice and performance. Your education, degrees and experience are naturally a door opener to professionalism, but your soft skills may help you gain the reputation and respect required to maintain a long and successful career.
INTERPERSONAL: the interaction that takes place between two or more people.
INTRAPERSONAL: self-reflection and communication with your own inner thoughts.
Some of the most important skills to develop for conductors are perhaps adaptability, communication skills and leadership qualities. How you adapt and accept change between ensembles, how you use verbal and nonverbal cues while rehearsing and performing and how you act as an inspirator and leader of a group can mean the difference between success and failure.
Another important soft skill is creativity. Creative skills and the ability to be inventive is often linked to what we call artistry. Being an artist is a key factor in defining you as a conductor, especially in the professional music industry. The ability to generate inspired performances and engaging interpretations may be considered an important measure of a real maestro.
Many of a conductor’s soft skills are developed through studying rehearsal techniques and methods, and you will find an extensive amount of useful information in the Rehearsal section of our Study Room. There you will find tips on Communication and much more. In addition, we have here gathered a selection of essays and articles written by experienced conductors on topics aimed to inspire your personal growth and help you develop further as a conductor, beyond the baton.
As a start, you might want to read Mark Wigglesworth’s text Applicants Wanted? A Conductor’s Job Description.
“[Conductors] … must have good manners, humour, respect, approachability, enthusiasm, encouragement, humility, positive spirit, patience, leadership, sincerity, audibility, creativity, an awareness of everyone, self-control, strength of character. They must be relaxed, self-confident, empathetic, punctual, motivating, polite, authoritative, realistic, interesting, charismatic, persevering, committed, well-dressed, even-tempered.”-Mark Wigglesworth / musicians from “one particular orchestra”.