For most musicians, a conductor’s physical technique is a bit of a mystery. Opinions on how effective the beat is will vary, often down to simple practical issues: those who sit further away will place more importance on clarity, those at the front may be more interested in expressiveness. Experienced players will instinctively know if it is working or not but may not be able to articulate what the problem is with any accuracy – although they will usually be more than willing to try!
Rehearsing is a very different matter: it will be much more apparent to the members of the ensemble if the conductor’s rehearsal technique is effective. In Rehearsal Chapter 1 we looked at some basic principles of rehearsing, so how do we get better at it, especially if our opportunities to conduct are limited in the early stages of our development?
The good news is that this really is something that can be studied and practised even if you are not conducting regularly.