Adrian Casas Lupercio - conducting expert

How to Become a Conductor

Anyone interested in conducting should watch this video

In this video, Adrian gives you some basic information on how to approach music conducting correctly.

Released on June 3, 2020

    
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello everyone. My name is Adrian Casas. I'm a violinist and conductor from Regina, Canada, and we are here today to talk about what skills you need to become a conductor.

Maybe you're a beginner contractor. Maybe this is your first year as a school teacher and you have to conduct a school band, or maybe the students in your studio created an ensemble and now you have to step in and be a conductor. Or maybe you're just curious about conducting in general and you're just wondering what skills do you need to become a conductor.

Over my 15 years of experience as a conductor, I detected three key elements that I think are important to start conducting. First of all, celebrate your musicianship. If you're interested about conducting, you're probably already a good musician or you're in the path of becoming a good musician. One of the skills that you can bring out of your musicianship is sight reading and a ear training. The goal for you is to be able to read that score and create an idea in your head of how the music is going to sound before you step into the podium. So start practicing your intervals and start practicing your dictation to the point that you are comfortable humming or singing the score without the help of a keyboard or your own instrument.

Another skill that you can bring out of your musicianship is your analysis skills. You have to be able to see the score and understand the overall structure of the piece. For example, you have to detect where the climax of the piece is and how the conductor is leading you to that climax. You also have to detect the different elements of the structure of the piece, like the introduction or the different themes or the secondary theme, and how they are related to each other harmonically. Maybe also understand the voice leading of the harmony and how the different instruments are assigned to the different voices in the harmony.

One more way to celebrate your musicianship is to know the instruments that you are working with. Different instruments have different technical requirements. For example, a flute, a violin and a trumpet will be able to give you a staccato or an accent, but the way they approach the articulation is different from one instrument to another, so it will be a good idea for you to explore how those instruments approach the different challenges so that you understand the musicians and their challenges as well.

Now, it's a good idea for you to feel comfortable with the transpository instruments as well. For example, the B-flat clarinet or the French horn are written in a different key that the sound that they are producing with their concert pitch. Now, does that mean that you have to be really good at playing each of the instruments that you have in front of you? Probably not, but at least try to play a little bit of them so that you understand what the musician is dealing with, and that you are able to speak the same language that the musician that you are working with.

Another element to become a conductor is to acquire a good conducting technique. There are a bunch of conducting math methods out there and they all explain the same challenges from different viewpoints, so find the one that works for you and explore those ideas. That being said, always keep an open mind about learning. Try something new and if that works, great. Keep it with you. And if it doesn't, that doesn't mean it's never going to work. That only means that it's probably going to work under different circumstances.

And last but not least, know your group. Rather than taking the role of a dictator or the critical parent who is pointing out the mistakes of the musicians and forcing them to play perfect every time, I would like to invite you to celebrate their musicianship. For example, if you have a beginner group, a big repertoire that you know they will be able to play, but at the same time, will challenged them and keep them engaged.

They will make mistakes, and it's okay for you to point out those mistakes and give them tools to correct those mistakes. But once those mistakes have been accomplished, then celebrate their accomplishments because a little bit of encouragement will go a long way. Now, if you're working with professional musicians, celebrating their musicianship will take the form of sharing musical ideas with each other. Empower them to give you their best performance and enable them to show you what they have to offer. In either case, in either situation, always be kind and always be respectful. It will make rehearsals much, much easier and it will make performances and concerts much more enjoyable for you and your audiences.

Thank you very much for watching and see you next time. If you're interested about these topics and you want to go into depth about these topics regarding conducting, follow my lessons at virtualsheetmusic.com.
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