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Old 10-11-2009, 05:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How do I become a conductor of an orchestra?

Hi, I registered so I could ask this, as I wasnt sure the answer to this question, and I can't find it on google.

I really want to be an conductor, after watching people like Karajan and Furtwangler i just feel so inspired.

Please, no one piss on my fire,

I know it will be hard work, and it may not pay well, but this is what I've always wanted to do, to direct an orchestra.

I'm taking music for A levels so I guess I've taken the right directions so far, and I've done my grade 8 for cello, I'm grade 5 for piano.

I play in loads of orchestras and I've had a lot of experience in performing onstage with them.
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Old 10-11-2009, 05:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hmmmm, well I'm pretty sure that you need a Bachelor of Music degree to conduct professional bands and orchestras here in Canada and the US. It's preferred that you are also a very competent pianist - grade 5 (if you're in Canada or the US) is NOT high enough. You need to have at least grade 8 or 9 piano. With your instrument levels (grade 8 for cello and 5 for piano), you can probably conduct a small community orchestra as a volunteer, meaning you won't get paid. Then again, each orchestra might have different expectations so it's important that you do some research on bands that you're interested in directing.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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School of Music. Look into some you like.

You have to work really hard at it, and you have to know at least one instrument in every section of the orchestra.

Start there.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In one of his pre-concert talks a few years ago, the conductor of the Hartford Symphony mentioned taking "conducting classes" (I forget the exact phrase, unfortunately, thinking that nobody would ever ask a question like this where I could see it!) with a professor at the Yale School of Music. It might have been "conducting lessons" or a "conducting seminar," but you get the idea.

Being American, I'm not sure what A-levels are, but they sound important enough that somebody at your school should be able to put you on the right track. You could also contact Sir Colin Davis, or anybody from a regional orchestra, and just ask. I mean, you've got to have a lot of self-confidence to be a conductor, so you might as well start out by getting in people's way and asking for help

Go for it. If anybody pisses on your fire just for having ambitions, it says something about them and nothing about you.
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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isn't it something you'd achieve by working your way up through playing in the orchestra first?

if you've already got experience in playing with orchestras why not just hit up the conductor for pointers at taking their job at the same time they might enjoy the idea of having an apprentice...
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Eh. It depends on the amount of time the ensemble has to practice, though. The less time, the less idealistic your apprenticeship(is that a word?) will be.
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i still think some experience is better than no experience
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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That sounded dirty. o.O



Anyway, yeah I agree. I think that all-in-all, it's important to know you're instruments.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, I'm more interested in conducting a youth symphony orchestra, maybe a once-a-week-for-a-few-hours thing, while my main job is something like a music teacher.

So, given that its a youth orchestra I don't think the standards would be quite as high as something like the berlin philharmonic or w/e, and I won't have to be like grade 8 in every instrument.
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, I'm more interested in conducting a youth symphony orchestra, maybe a once-a-week-for-a-few-hours thing, while my main job is something like a music teacher.

So, given that its a youth orchestra I don't think the standards would be quite as high as something like the berlin philharmonic or w/e, and I won't have to be like grade 8 in every instrument.
Do a BA in music somewhere, a Conservatoire would probably be best, but don't discount the Universities. Have a look at the different courses, or call someone at the institution (there'll be information about the various elements of the course or at least someone's number you can call and talk to on the institution's website). Look for modules in 'Musical Direction' or similar.

Meanwhile practice the piano like crazy, and try and get as high grades as possible. Make sure you've got at least Grade five music theory too. A music A-level I expect would be pretty essential, music tech might serve in it's place, but not everywhere. A physics A-level is also useful for applying to some places. Speak to your music teacher at school about it too.

You could probably do some extra things too. Get in contact with the various youth orchestras in the country. The Halle in Manchester springs to mind. See what they can offer you, you might get an audition to play, or they might let you sit in on rehearsals and things. Try getting in contact with the BBC orchestras too. I remember going to the BBC philharmonic orchestra's rehearsal space in manchester to see a rehearsal when I was doing my A-levels. Show willing, try not to take up too much of people's time, be grateful and a lot of people will be pleased to help you.

When you've got your BA, you just need to do a PGCE for a year (music is a shortage subject at the moment too so there's a £9000 bursary for the PGCE as an incentive) then you can teach, and you'll (hopefully) have picked up the skills and contacts along the way to do what you want to do.
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