Adrian Casas Lupercio - conducting expert

What is conducting?

An introduction to music conducting

In this first video of his new video series, Adrian gives you some background on music conducting and a few basic concepts to get you started.

Released on February 5, 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 am a violinist and conductor from Regina, Canada, and we are here to talk about conducting.

Many of us take advantage of the large music library, not only as performers, but also as music educators. If you're a teacher within your teaching practice, you might end up conducting a small music ensemble. Or sometimes adventure to conduct a large ensemble, such as a wind band, or a full on symphony orchestra.

If you're a beginner conductor, I hope these videos give you some ideas about exploring the world of conducting. If you are an experienced conductor, I hope it refreshes your memory, and adds some new ideas to your tool kit. Of course, there is not one single way or one correct way to explore the world of conducting. These are just some ideas that I have picked over the years.

There are many schools of thought out there. There are many techniques of conducting out there, and they are all worth learning and exploring. If you're looking for resources about conducting, feel free to shoot me a message, and I'll be very happy to share my resources with you. Let's begin conducting.

We understand conducting as a series of gestures, usually hand gestures, to maintain unity in a musical ensemble during the execution of a piece. To understand conducting as we know it today, it is important to understand the history that led to the modern conductor.

When you play a chamber piece of music, such as a duet, or a trio, or a quartet, you probably rely on each member of your group to know when to start, how fast to play, and when to stop. During the performance of the piece, you also rely on your own counting skills, your own sight reading skills, as well as your own personal practice. However, as you start adding more musicians into the group, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the ensemble together.

During the Baroque period, orchestras were not the large musical ensemble that we know today. Very often, orchestras were a small group of musicians led by the strongest player of the group, which was often a violin player or the harpsichord player. The leader of the group was not only the strongest player of the group, but also the composer.

Later on in the 19th century, composers began to expand the instrumental proportions, or the number of musicians required to play their compositions. These demanded a new musician whose only job was to lead or direct the group. This is also when we start to see new treatises of conducting that is specialized only in the art of conducting, such as the art of conducting by Hector Berlioz in 1856. From then on, the conductor as we know it today had started to emerge.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on February 5, 2020 @10:50 pm PST
I've played in amateur symphonies over several decades...with various conductors...and I've come away with some main observations:

1. Some are much better in conveying the all important "down" beat clearly with their baton or arm, and in giving different sections of instruments clear cues as to when to come in.

2. Some are much better in explaining to the musicians exactly what they want during an appropriate choice of
words (and metaphors, or whatever, etc.) and in a voice loud enough to be heard (a soft spoken conductor is very difficult to deal with). These are very basic considerations.

3. Additionally I've noticed that the better conductors are
also are very good at communicating to us a bit of interesting "historical" insight into the composer and the genesis of the piece in question.

(Think what you say henceforth will be of great help to musicians in general, not just to conductors and aspiring conductors. So, I'm looking forward to all you have to say. Thanks.)
Adrian on February 9, 2020 @4:28 pm PST
Hi Tosh, thank you for your comment. Keep an eye on my upcoming video, I will discuss some key elements about the beat.
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