The premise of this book is that most young conductors desire to develop his/her personal conducting style as quickly as possible and to establish themselves as having reached the pinnacle of conducting in a very short amount of time. The problem with this goal, as described in this taxonomy, is that it takes much time and experience to have the necessary fundamental skill needed on which to build a skill of conducting to the expert stage. Without having been grounded in the fundamentals of conducting, it is very difficult to achieve the goal of expertise. Applied music teachers teach this concept in their studios. Music theory teachers teach this concept in their theory classes. Baseball coaches teach this concept in their training drills. Why should conductors not be grounded in fundamentals?
Perhaps one reason is that there is limited time committed to the conducting curriculum in most university studies. With this limited time comes the necessity to rush through the various concepts in order to cover the material put forth in the textbooks or syllabi.
The best method of establishing true fundamental abilities in conducting is to practice thoroughly each exercise and gesture repeatedly. One cannot gain the necessary skills and the necessary muscle/nerve efficiency demanded for the development of smooth, graceful movement without this repetition of gestures. It is scientifically and physically impossible to learn to conduct without repetitive motion in practice.
Some beginning conducting students have said, “I do not want to conduct, I want to teach (or sing or play) professionally”. Unfortunately, university students cannot predict what will happen in two or three years when they begin their professional teaching or performing career. Nor can they predict the type of career they may need to pursue until their “big break” occurs. Many students say they will teach elementary music and not need to conduct beyond the most basic techniques. In reality, they usually accept the first teaching job available, which might be in a middle and/or high school. As they stand in front of the older students in performance, they will most likely regret not taking the studies of conducting more seriously.
It is my belief that learning to conduct and learning what it means to prepare thoroughly the score for performance will make each musician a better teacher, singer or player. Learning to conduct will make one more articulate in his/her communication abilities as a silent, visual representation of the music performed. Being a student of conducting will provide one with an emotional connectivity to the music. Learning to conduct will make one a better ensemble member because he/she will be more sensitive to the gestures executed by the conductor. One will become more sensitive to the ensemble sound and the importance of every other part, not only the part that one is performing.
Learning to conduct music will make you a better musician.