Conducting

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

The conductor typically stands on a raised podium with a large music stand for the full score, which contains the musical notation for all the instruments or voices. Since the mid-19th century, most conductors have not played an instrument when conducting, although in earlier periods of classical music history, leading an ensemble while playing an instrument was common. In Baroque music from the 1600s to the 1750s, the group would typically be led by the harpsichordist or first violinist (see concertmaster), an approach that in modern times has been revived by several music directors for music from this period. Conducting while playing a piano or synthesizer may also be done with musical theatre pit orchestras. Communication is typically non-verbal during a performance (this is strictly the case in art music, but in jazz big bands or large pop ensembles, there may be occasional spoken instructions, such as a "count in"). However, in rehearsals, frequent interruptions allow the conductor to give verbal directions as to how the music should be played or sung.

Conductors act as guides to the orchestras or choirs they conduct. They choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments (such as in tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections), work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the performers. They may also attend to organizational matters, such as scheduling rehearsals, planning a concert season, hearing auditions and selecting members, and promoting their ensemble in the media. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands and other sizable musical ensembles such as big bands are usually led by conductors.

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Matching Conducting Colleges

Sam Houston State University

Four or more years; Public; $15,648 average out-state tuition; $5,856 average in-state tuition

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

Four or more years; Public; $25,433 average out-state tuition; $10,099 average in-state tuition

Michigan State University

Four or more years; Public; $41,290 average out-state tuition; $15,966 average in-state tuition

University of Rochester

Four or more years; Private not for profit; $58,276 average out-state tuition; $58,276 average in-state tuition

The New England Conservatory of Music

Four or more years; Private not for profit; $52,730 average out-state tuition; $52,730 average in-state tuition

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Four or more years; Public; $54,769 average out-state tuition; $16,865 average in-state tuition

Baylor University

Four or more years; Private not for profit; $50,232 average out-state tuition; $50,232 average in-state tuition

Scholarships for Conducting Majors

Bullet name award deadline Link
 

Beinecke Scholarship - Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

$34,000 Varies See Details
 

Beinecke Scholarship - Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

award

$34,000

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Nancy Shaw McKee Scholarship

Clarion University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Sciences

Up to $22,030 Varies See Details
 

Nancy Shaw McKee Scholarship

Clarion University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Sciences

award

Up to $22,030

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Donald B. Plott Scholarship

Davidson College

$15,000 January 10, 2025 See Details
 

Donald B. Plott Scholarship

Davidson College

award

$15,000

deadline

January 10, 2025
See Details
 

Arts and Music Scholarship - Rhodes College

Rhodes College

Up to $12,500 February 15, 2025 See Details
 

Arts and Music Scholarship - Rhodes College

Rhodes College

award

Up to $12,500

deadline

February 15, 2025
See Details
 

Lawrence M. and Louise Kresge Isaacs Endowment for Music

Susquehanna University

Up to $12,000 Varies See Details
 

Lawrence M. and Louise Kresge Isaacs Endowment for Music

Susquehanna University

award

Up to $12,000

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Harriet A. Shaw Fellowship

Wellesley College, Graduate Financial Aid

Up to $11,500 Varies See Details
 

Harriet A. Shaw Fellowship

Wellesley College, Graduate Financial Aid

award

Up to $11,500

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Nordan Fine Arts Program Award - Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University

$10,000 Varies See Details
 

Nordan Fine Arts Program Award - Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University

award

$10,000

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Musical Merit Scholarship

Bryan College

$8,000 Varies See Details
 

Musical Merit Scholarship

Bryan College

award

$8,000

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Iowa Center for the Arts Scholarship

University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

$6,500 Varies See Details
 

Iowa Center for the Arts Scholarship

University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

award

$6,500

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Nicholas and Helena Patti Foundation Scholarship

Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans

Up to $6,500 November 01, 2024 See Details
 

Nicholas and Helena Patti Foundation Scholarship

Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans

award

Up to $6,500

deadline

November 01, 2024
See Details