‘The gentle tone of her teaching,
In wondrous melodies, orchestral knowledge from a sweet teacher,
Education set by the awareness of harmonizing, delicate instruments,
Wisdom and foresight, cast by no other judgement but of a conductor,
Whomst hand leads to the ups and downs of the intensity, recognised
Ensembling in the beauty of a sinfonietta, sounds flow uninterrupted…’
The primary responsibilities of a conductor are to unify performers, establish a tempo, execute clear directives, listen attentively and critically, shape the soundscape, and control the pace and interpretation of the music. Conductors act as guides to the choirs or orchestras they conduct. They choose the works to be performed, study the scores and make adjustments in phrasing, articulation, colour and overall output. For nearly two centuries, conductors favoured a baton, or thin wand, in the right hand as a device for emphasising the metrical outline, reserving the left hand for indicating entries of different parts and nuances. Some contemporary conductors, however, follow a practice long established in unaccompanied choral conducting and dispense with the baton; the absence of the baton frees both hands for more elaborately interpretive directions. With the removal of the baton and the elimination, through memorization, of the printed score in performance, the conductor is free to use not only his hands and arms but also the movement of his torso and facial muscles to express to the group his wishes in the execution of phrasing, dynamics, nuance, individual entrances, and other aspects of a finished performance.
I often resemble a conductor to a parent. Responsible for the unison, collaboration, development, growth, harmony, communication and quality of children. The parent moulds, guides, leads, interprets, negotiates, introduces, and brings joy and happiness. The children look up to the parent as their leader, a pastoral figure, an individual of great importance, and loved unconditionally. The more in tune and self-aware everyone is, the more solid the family unit is.