W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

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W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby velvet » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:13 pm

My dear boyfriend confessed to me last week that he has always wanted to be an orchestra conductor. Neither of us has a clue as to how someone becomes an orchestra conductor. How is it done if you pursue it as a serious career? And what if your interest is more hobby-level interest? Are there talks given by conductors about their job? Can you guest-conduct an orchestra? are there classes on how to conduct an orchestra? We'd love any level of information on it - whether serious career path or hobby type interest in conducting. velvet
I see that they are happy, not because they got luckier than all the rest of us when they found each other, but because they passionately desire and believe in their happiness.- Susan Page Destination, Determination, Deliberation! - Twycross, HP&TH-BP
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby JeannetteLS » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:23 am

Orchestra conductors train in school, like other professional orchestra musicians, BUT, I would look into various summer music programs -- I would bet that there are music camps for adults where he might be able to explore the area. I don't know what level of training your boyfriend has, musically. But I'd explore at that level first, if it is more in the realm of "I wish I'd always tried." Perhaps your local orchestra would offer him the opportunity to watch and learn--we have a town symphony, for instance, in a town of about 40,000--so that, rather than a city orchestra might offer an opportunity for exploration. These are non-paid musicians, often, who play. The conductor is a professional, but might enjoy having someone interested in learning what he or she does. That's the other avenue I would look into and NOW might be a good time, since they usually start in September. If your boyfriend could establish contact, and let the conductor know he's serious about learning what is involved in this field, it could be a great experience for both. From the initial scoring of the music for the coming season, to watching techniques of conducting for different time signatures, bringing in different instruments? It is so marvelously complex -- I've been on the receiving end, as one who has been part of a chorus singing with an orchestra. My mind is BOGGLED by what they do! Hope this helps with two places to sort of start. Good luck! What a cool thing to be interested in.
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby sallypz » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:04 am

Check out your local community college to see if they have an orchestra...he could talk to the music teachers there about how to become a conductor, possibly even learn from one of them??? sallypz (MoxieMe)
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby erikacleve » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:46 am

Wow! What a wonderful wish. I do a considerable amount of playing with orchestras on the amateur level and there is an international organization called the Amateur Chamber Music Association, www.acmp.net. This is for chamber music as I said, but it connects you with musicians all over the world and you may be able to find someone who could connect you with a conductor or an orchestra that would be open to having an assistant for the conductor. I think it would also help and you have probably already done this, to clarify exactly what you want. Do you want to do this professionally? Do you want just one experience of conducting? Does it have to be an orchestra? Adults? or would you consider an orchestra at a school? The more your boyfriend can prepare himself the better. Listen to music along with a score. Read about conductors and look for interviews on the net. Learn as many instruments as you can. A conductor has to know how to play all the instruments that he or she conducts. Good luck! I realize I didn't check the date on this, whether it is recent or not, I just had to write since this is such a fun and ambitious goal!
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby LucieInDisguise » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:05 am

Obviously, he must be able to conduct. There are classes he can take at music schools, or he can get private training by a conducting teacher. Tell him to contact music schools in your area. It really helps to be able to play an instrument as well. Does he play anything? If not, he should consider learning to play the piano. All the conductors I know play piano at least at a basic level. (I'm a professional opera singer.) Most of the conductors I know in the U.S. get their gigs through networking. Once your boyfriend has some conducting/playing skills, tell him to volunteer with some amateur level orchestras, or being the musical director for a community theater musical theater production. The more directors/conductors/orchestra musicians he gets to know, the more opportunities he will have. If he goes for high level stuff and/or moves to Europe, he will have to audition. They have standard repertoire that they usually audition conductors on - pieces that are either very frequently done or are notoriously tricky to conduct. Good luck to him!
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby Tituba » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:44 am

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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby Scenario Thinker » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:45 am

Does he play several instruments? I've heard that in the past. This article confirms it: http://www.ehow.com/how_2060722_become- ... uctor.html What does he like about the thought of it? Is it the control of the orchestra or the "toe tapping" aspect that it seems to be. To me, I'd rather be a toe tapper :).
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby velvet » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:59 pm

HI all, thank you so much for your ideas and responses. I've passed on your latest ideas to him, and will let you know if he has a reply to your question/s. We recently went to see the San Francisco Symphony and got to sit in the seats right behind the orchestra - we could see everything, and had a fabulous view of the conductor. It's a great deal, just $15 a ticket to sit right there. :) It was so much fun to watch all the musicians and see them up close.
I see that they are happy, not because they got luckier than all the rest of us when they found each other, but because they passionately desire and believe in their happiness.- Susan Page Destination, Determination, Deliberation! - Twycross, HP&TH-BP
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby Conrad » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:03 am

Most communities have a community band, orchestra, and chorus nearby. He may know someone in one of those groups that could introduce him to the conductor with the intent to get 15 minutes with the group at a rehearsal. Maybe the local school would do the same. This may sound silly, but in college we are asked to practice in front of a mirror, with music playing, and conduct a simple 4 pattern.
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby Andreya » Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:05 pm

Have you guys watched Nodame Cantabile? :) It's a great Japanese drama, sort of funny comedy romance series! (Also manga and anime.) It shows the lives of students who are in the 'classical music' world. Not sure how realistic it is, the conductor guy was studying piano and got to be 'apprentice' of a really famous conductor, then he went to competitions to get known, and studied on music conservatories abroad. (Got an agency to represent him, etc.) Some of the ways he did this were quite funny! There's also some great music in the series, and it shows how the students or conductors may live! (In a very funny way, good to check if it's anywhere near realistic though!) It's modelled after some real people so it may be close! There are scholarships and exchange programs abroad too. I know a girl who studied in Scandinavia for a while. (Also studied on music academy here before.) A friend of mine only studied piano in lower music school, and then singing (while studying something completely unrelated), and she conducted local church choir, the kiddies. Another girl I know 'conducted' local youth church choir too, even though she never studied anything remotely like it, as far as I know. (She just played guitar and was great with people.) They both had other jobs and just did the conducting for fun, or maybe it was paid a little.
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby StoryMing » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:22 pm

Not sure where you live; I am part of a community theater group in Massachussetts, and know one or two people who have conducted our shows. If you're ever out this way I could introduce you. -M
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Re: W: Orchestra conductor O: How?

Postby Kelly Norman » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:00 am

My hero is Valery Gergiev, who conducts....actually, runs....the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia (he's mostly known for conducting its orchestra & its opera company). The Mariinsky is the Russian version of the Met + a major symphony + a major ballet company. I have a livejournal fan blog for him; some of the people who participate on it are interested in conducting, so I've heard a bit about this!

One of my blog readers recently began studying conducting at a state university near his home. But while he was getting a masters in fine arts, studying and performing piano, he conducted a small orchestra nearby. I think in his case it was a student orchestra.....but I know many community orchestras are run by volunteers...if your boyfriend can play an instrument or sing, he could participate in a small orchestra and bend the ear of the conductor asking how he or she did it.

If there is a conductor he really admires, maybe he could figure out a way to have a conversation with that person...meet them backstage, attend a rehearsal. Many orchestras will allow you to attend rehearsals for free. Even though Gergiev went through the very structured Soviet system which obviously isn't possible today, my research on him has given me some insight into how other conductors got where they are. Most of them do start out by performing on a particular instrument. They have all gone through a formal musical education....but I don't know if that means that you can never conduct if you don't have a sheepskin. Finally they all talk about older conductors who were mentors to them, and they all did some kind of apprenticeship. An apprenticeship came as part of their education, but every conductor I've read about also talks about other conductors they admire whom they were able to establish contact with and who gave them encouragement and feedback.

Good luck to both of you! :-)
A lot of people struggle to find what they identify with... I crossed the piazza just once in St Petersburg, from the conservatory of music to the door of the Kirov. That was the only important journey of my life. --Valery Gergiev
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