Conducting II

Dr. William S. Carson

Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Education

MU‑385 * Coe College * Spring 2010


Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 11:0011:50 AM

Marquis Rm. 201


Office: Marquis 203

Office Hours: M 3:30 - 4:30, W 2:30 - 3:30 or by appointment

Office Phone: 399-8520




Course Description:

This intensive one‑credit course is designed to continue the preparation of the future music educator for his or her role as a conductor.  The topic will be approached by studying the literature and techniques of instrumental music, with some additional work on choral music.  Baton and Score reading skills will be emphasized.  Prerequisite:  MU‑285 or Permission of Instructor


Text:            Elizabeth A.H. Green, The Modern Conductor, Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice‑Hall. The readings in Elizabeth Green relate to things that will be discussed in class – but not necessarily in the order in which they are assigned. Readings are spread out throughout the term, rather than aligned with specific topics that will be discussed.


Supplementary Materials:

Baton, pencil, ink pen, three‑ring binder, computer access, manuscript paper, colored pencils, major instrument.  One blank mini-videotape or digital storage media (exact format will be discussed in class) and access to playback equipment.


Reserve Materials:     Supplementary reading as assigned.


Grading:      This is a very demanding class, requiring a large amount of preparation outside of class, and requiring participation in eight conducting sessions outside of class time.  There is a test, quiz, or reading or listening assignment for almost every class meeting, in addition to the preparation time required for the in‑class conducting.  The grading scale is high, and there is little room for error.  Please see grading details outlined on separate sheet.


Meetings:      A major portion of the value of this course will come from the in‑class work. Tests, quizzes, and assignments, add to the importance of class attendance, particularly because students will only be allowed to make up one missed test or quiz, and late assignments will be penalized.  In addition to the class meetings listed in the catalog, members of this class will also be judged on their participation as conductors in sessions outside of class time. There will be additional meetings to conduct rehearsals, and the final required conducting session will be held at a band rehearsal during exam week.  Students who complete the course successfully may be given the option of conducting the band at commencement.


Note:  This course is taught primarily as a workshop or laboratory class – the materials will be adjusted daily to fit what the instructor perceives as your strengths and weaknesses.


Grading Details


The student will be graded on both conducting performance and on factual knowledge.


REQUIRED WORK:                                        Points                           Number                       Total

Daily in class performance                                      10            x                  40            =              400

Required Outside Conducting                                  25            x                    8            =              200

Rehearsal Reviews (non-Coe)*                                25            x                    4            =              100

Written tests (vocab., transp.)                                100            x                    3            =              300

Graded Quizzes                                                       50            x                    3            =              150

Notebook of all assignments, etc.*                        200                                                =              200

Conducting Final                                                                     200                                                  =  200

Major Project ‑ rough draft*                                  150                                                =              150

Major Project ‑ final draft*                                    300                                                =              300

TOTAL Required Points                                                                                                            2000



Rehearsal Reviews                                                   10            x                    4            =                40

Extra credit attendance                                            10            x                    3            =                30

Perfect Attendance Bonus                                       30                                                =                30

Extra credit conducting                                            25            x                    2            =                50

TOTAL Points Possible                                                                                                              2150


1950  ‑ 2150  =  A         1900  ‑ 1949  =  B          1850  ‑ 1899  =  C            1800  ‑ 1849  =  D            0 - 1799 =F

Plusses and minuses are at the discretion of the instructor.


* Conducting II is a Writing Emphasis course.  Students who do not earn at least 500 out of the 750 possible points for the Major Project, both rough and final draft, and the rehearsal reviews and writing assignments included in the notebook, will NOT be able earn writing emphasis for the course, and will thus not earn a grade higher than C-, no matter how well they perform in other aspects of the class, and despite any other extra credit that might be submitted.


Students who miss ONE test or in class assignment will be allowed to make up their work, but ONLY the FIRST time!  After that any make up work must be done in the form of extra credit assignments. Assignments will lose 25% in value each day that they are late, including weekends and holidays.


First Order Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will have:

(1)           An increased knowledge of the basic elements of conducting

(2)           An appreciation for the many roles of the conductor

(3)           Improved confidence as a conductor

(4)           An increased awareness of different styles of music

(5)           A more open attitude toward unfamiliar musical styles

(6)           Basic knowledge of standard repertoire

(7)           Knowledge of basic source materials for conductors

(8)           A desire for continued growth as a conductor

(9)           An awareness of the importance of preparation

(10)         Improved personal musicianship


Second Order Objectives:

To demonstrate the above competencies, the student will:

(1)           Demonstrate knowledge of transposition and vocabulary facts

(2)           Answer questions concerning stylistic differences

(3)           Compose exercises for various instruments

(4)           Review articles in trade and research journals

(5)           Listen to and evaluate performances and recordings

(6)           Observe and evaluate conductors, both visually and aurally

(7)           Survey and evaluate reference materials

(8)           Demonstrate appropriate use of baton

(9)           Demonstrate application of basic beat patterns

(10)         Demonstrate expressive gestures

(11)         Demonstrate control of dynamic, tempo, articulation

Conducting II, Spring 2010

Class Schedule (subject to change)



Month         Day            Assignment                                                                                                                           

Jan.               13            Pre-Quiz        

                      15            Green, 20-25

                      18            No class – Martin Luther King Day

                      20            RA1

                      22            Practice Quiz              

                      25            Green, 142-173          

                      27            Practice Quiz                                     

                      29            Assignment 1,              part 1                                                             

Feb.                 1            Quiz I

                        3            Green, 174-215

                        5            RA2        

                        8            Green, 222-235

                      10            Practice Quiz                                     

                      12            Green, 41 - 62

                      15            Assignment 1, part 2   

                      17            Test I

         19            Green, 63 - 77            

         22            Assignment 2

         24            Practice Quiz              

         26            Class will not meet at regular time.  Instead, serve as band host and observe jazz directors.

Mar.                 1            Star-Spangled Banner 

           3            Green, 78 – 83, Assignment 3

           5            Star-Spangled Banner

      8-12            No class – spring break

                      15            RA3        

                      17            Quiz II

                      19            Green, 84 -95

                      22            Green, 119-138

                      24            No class – Dr. Carson not available  

                      26            Project Rough Draft due                    

                      29            Green, 43-49                                                                                     

                      31            Practice Quiz                                     

Apr.                 2            Green, 139-141

                        5            Assignment 4

                        7            Green, 71-95

                        9            Test II

                      12            Green, 217-221          

                      14            Discuss Festivals and Contests

                      16            Observe Len Orcino

Special Sessions – April 17 and 18 – assist with Elementary, Junior, and Senior Honor Bands

                      17            Morning and afternoon - Opportunity to observe Elementary Honor Band with guest conductors

                      18            Afternoon opportunity to observe High School and Middle School Honor Bands with guest conductors       

                      19            Repertoire for final exams                                                                                        

                      21            Quiz III, Green, xiii-xviii                                                                                           

                      23            Green, 1-7

                      26            RA5

                      28            Notebook, Final Project

April              30            11:00 – 1:00 p.m.        Final Written Exam

April 28 and May 5       Final Conducting Exam during band rehearsals (7:00 – 9:15 p.m.)


Written Assignments

The following writing assignments will be described in class before they are due.  Assignments will be considered part of notebook score.


Assignment 1:

Part 1:  without using an instrument for reference, write out the Star Spangled Banner in the traditional key. 

Part 2:  Write unison parts for instruments pitched in Eb (e.g., alto sax), Bb (trumpet, clarinet), F (horn), A (clarinet).  For C instruments write parts in bass clef, treble clef, alto clef, and tenor clef.


Assignment 2:

Two-page Article - Best and Worst Leaders 


Assignment 3:

Interpretation Comparison - Two recordings of Beeth #5, mvt. I


Assignment 4:

Internet Search - Find and describe at least 5 Internet sites related to conducting.  Create a webpage with your descriptions and post on the internet. This assignment is to be turned by e-mailing the URL to



Reading Assignments


For each reading assignment, you are expected to prepare a short (minimum one page per reading assignment) synopsis/commentary on the material covered and its relevance to class and to the required text.  Your opinions about the material and analysis of its presentation are most important.



Maurice Miles, Are you beating Two or Four?, Borough Green, Kent, England:  Novello, 1977.  Chapters 1, 2(The             Baton, The Left Hand, The Right Hand, Starting, Rostrum Etiquette).


Brock McElheran, Conducting Technique, New York:  Oxford University  Press, 1966.  Chapters III, IV,



Frederik Prausnitz, Score and Podium, New York:  W.W. Norton, 1983.  Introduction, pp. 1-2, 6.  Chapter 1A, pp.             11-15.  Chapter 1B, pp. 17-25.  Chapter 2A, pp. 29-39.



Conducting Resources

Prepare annotated bibliography of 5 or more conducting-related texts available in the library, in my office, or from another faculty member.  Compare with each other and with Green.



Library Skills Exercise

The following articles are available in the library - if you can find them:

Donn L. Mills, "Conductor's Upper-Hand Technique."

_____, "A Player's Guide for Keeping Conductors in Line."

Project Instructions


The major written conducting project for the term will be the compilation of a detailed plan of action for an ensemble that you would plan to lead some time in the future.  It must be a very detailed set of guidelines and an outlining of thought processes.  Every detail on the Conducting Class Unit Outline which you will receive as a handout needs to be addressed. 


Start today by deciding what kind of group you want to write about.  Following are some examples of topics that should be addressed to get you thinking:

·         Description of Group

·         Purpose of Group

·         Educational Goals

·         Budget (must be submitted electronically and discussed in paper – see below)

·         Recruiting/auditions/membership publicity

·         Selection of repertoire

·         Balancing of program (include timings of selections, so that halves of the concert are balanced)

·         Resources that you will use:  list at least 5 books, magazines, or internet sites that will help you prepare for working with this ensemble.


Each piece which will be included in the performances of the imaginary ensemble needs the following:

·         program notes

·         rationale for choosing

·         discussion of the difficulties of the piece

·         educational value of the piece

·         rationale for its placement in the program


You will need to submit three portions of your paper electronically:

  1. A complete budget, showing income and expenditures must be submitted using Excel, Works, or some other spreadsheet program.  You must use formulas to calculate amounts and totals.
  2. A presentation using PowerPoint or another similar presentation program, submitting an imaginary proposal or presentation – additional funding, permission to tour, a recruiting presentation, defense against budget or staff cuts, etc.
  3. A webpage advertising some aspect of your ensemble – auditions, the concert, the rehearsal schedule, fundraising, etc.  You will need to have at least one graphic and one link on this web page.

Of course this can not be as valuable as actually leading a group through a semester or season, but you will have thought through many of the important pitfalls and aspects at least once before you have to sink or swim.  Plan to spend a lot of time on this assignment and start early.  I recommend that you try to do at least one paragraph a day, rather than waiting until spring break and trying to come up with 40 pages at once.  Make this an on-going project. 


You also need to be reminded that, since this is a writing emphasis course, you will have the opportunity to submit a rough draft, revise it, and resubmit.  You should be aware of several things about this process:

·         Your rough draft should show me everything you plan to have in the final draft:  the cover, all text, etc.  Treat it like a final draft, just know that you will get a second chance.

·         I will be very picky in my critique of the rough draft.

·         The final draft needs to be carefully revised to fit all my suggestions - AND I expect you to continue your own research and come up with some new ideas in the mean time.

·         I will be incredibly picky in my critique of the final draft.  I recommend consulting the writing center and students who have taken the class in the past! 


Good Luck!

Some writing advice (common problems)


1.     Don’t use contractions

2.     Check your spelling!

3.     Don’t use “that” for people – use “who” instead

4.     Don’t use “upbeat” to describe happy music.  “Upbeat” is the anacrusis, or the beat before a downbeat (beat one)

5.     Spell out numbers under 101

6.     Number your pages

7.     Doublespace

8.     Have someone else read your paper for clarity, assumptions, sentence structure


Conducting Class Unit Outline


I.          Description of the group(s), the program, and the school, church or other institution.  Please also select and describe your audience:  Some of the best papers have also selected a fictional format – by-laws of a community ensemble, handbook for director, handbook for ensemble members.  Others were preparing a proposal to a superintendent, school board, prinicpal, parent organization, or potential donors. Be imaginative and creative.  Choose your audience, and write for them.

            A.  Size of ensemble(s)

            B.  Age

            C.  Ability

            D.  Instrumentation or voice distribution

            E.   Recruiting – how will this be accomplished?  Include sample letters to constituents.

            F.   Budget – how will you come up with enough money? Include sample letters to funding sources.  Include a printout of your budget.  Don’t forget to also submit budget electronically.

            G.  Use a personal data sheet—

1.      Name

2.      Address & Phone

3.      Email

4.      Cell Phone

5.      Parent’s email

6.      Parent’s cell

7.      Schedule

8.      Years of musical training and ensemble involvement

9.      Sizes (if uniforms are to be used)

10.  Do you want to invite parents to volunteer or donate?

            H.  When and where does the group meet?  How do scheduling, time of day, and facilities affect the quality and planning of the rehearsals?


II.        Picking Music

            A.  Difficulty – technique, range, keys used, rhythmic complexity

            B.  Instrumentation or voice distribution

            C.  Variety

            D.  Appealing to Audience

            E.   Appealing to Students

            F.   Musical and Non-musical goals

            G.  Concert Theme or season

            H.  Sources – mail, phone, local stores

            I.    Prices (budget)

            J.    Time frame for delivery


III.       Audition procedures

            A.  What is your purpose in holding auditions?

            B.  Where, when, what to have them play or sing

            C.  How to judge (does seniority matter?) (create an audition form)

            D.  How to distribute parts, how to post results

            E.   Seating Arrangement

            F.   Assign and stuff folders (librarian)

            G.  Include sample audition information handout for members


IV.       Rehearsal planning

            A.  First class

                  1.   Discuss plans, goals, and schedule, hand out materials

                  2.   Tuning and/or warmups

                  3.   Music reading session

                  4.   How will this rehearsal be organized?

                  5.   How will new members find their correct seats?
      6.   How else should the first rehearsal be different from the other rehearsals?

            B.  Time Available

                  1.  Instrumental assembly

                  2.   Student warmup

                  3.   Individual tuning

                  4.   Group warmup (scales)

                  5.   Announcements

                  6.   Group tuning

                  7.   Finally actually get to the music!

                  8.   Tuning between numbers

                  9.   Sectionals?

                  10. Interruptions

                  11. Don’t forget national holidays, school vacations, assemblies, other classes’ field trips, snow days, etc.

                  12. Try to end rehearsal, especially before a break of several days, with something that will leave them with a good feeling about the rehearsal — something they like, something familiar, something they do well.  John Paynter said it best: “Be sure...that you end with a bang, that the last thing you say to them is ‘man, oh man, yippee, good night.’”[1]

                  13. Time at the end of class to pack up instruments

            C.  Goals and objectives for entire unit

            D.  Schedule of all rehearsals, dress rehearsals, moving equipment, etc.  Go through the thought process of what will be rehearsed when and why.  Figure out how many weeks you will have and what you should attempt to accomplish in each.  Justify all decisions.

            E.   The pros and cons of dress rehearsals

            F.   Disciplinary tactics

            G.  Rules

            H.  Re-adjust music choices after auditions, during the rehearsal period?


V.        Planning the performance

            A.  Designated time (how did you decide?)

            B.  Set up, decorations?  Who does the work?

            C.  Lights

            D.  PA and mics

            E.   Recording and photography

            F.   Refreshments/reception

            G.  Will you charge admission?  Why or why not?

            H.  Parking Situation

            I.    Clean-up


VI.       Publicity

            A.  Posters—Design, printing, distribution

            B.  School announcements, church bulletin

            C.  Radio

            D.  Newspaper

            E.   Mailing list

            F.   Other


VII.     Programs (Include a Sample)

            A.  Score and program distribution—This is an appropriate time to elaborate on some of the thought processes of choosing this music, planning the order of the concert, and elaborating on some of the specific difficult passages and rehearsal techniques to be used for these pieces.  This is one of the most important parts of this project.

            B.  Designing the program – artwork, program notes

                  You must annotate each of the pieces that will be included in the program – you may decide whether they will be introduced verbally or included in the printed program.

            C.  Distribution of programs (ushers)

            D.  Thank yous/acknowledgements, Upcoming events, concert etiquette

            E.   Printing


VIII.    Dress Code


IX.       Dress Rehearsal Plan


X.        Concert – Think through all the details – how will conductor’s music get on stand, how will performers get on stage?  Will there be a warmup rehearsal?  Most important of all, explain why!


XI.       Resources – List all of the resources (as a bibliography) used in the preparation of this document.  You must use at least one book, on magazine article, and one website.  A good way to get ideas is to find a handbook of a similar ensemble on the web.  Another good source is to consult conductors of similar ensembles.


XII.     Include a printout of your powerpoint. Don’t forget to also submit powerpoint electronically.


XIII.    Include sample scores of the pieces you will perform.


XIV.    When all this is done, prepare a table of contents and put it at the beginning (after title page).  I also recommend that you tab sections.  This is a portfolio-like document, so it needs to be appropriately bound for submission.

[1] John P. Paynter, quoted in On the Path to Excellence, The Northshore Concert Band, Paynter, Buehlman and Beyond, Galesville, MD: 2003, p. 100.