Rehearsing and Conducting
HARRY E. PRICE & JAMES L. BYO
Conducting and rehearsal behaviors play a role in establishing an appropriate and effective rehearsal atmosphere. Situations in which conductors provide predominantly positive feedback result in better attitudes, attention, and performance. Fast paced rehearsals are usually the most effective, and comprise frequent and generally brief episodes of teacher talk and ensemble performance. Enthusiastic or dynamic rehearsing features stark contrasts of behavior at optimal times—loud and soft talk, expressive and neutral conducting, group and individual eye contact. Rehearsals should be structured to include processes of diagnosis, prescription, presentation, monitoring, and feedback, with brisk paced and clear directions. Essentially, a conductor should focus on making verbalizations efficient and keeping them to a minimum, while enhancing nonverbal behaviors to include large amounts of eye contact and clear and unambiguous conducting gestures.
“From the moment a conductor steps on the podium a special world is in the process of being constructed” (Faulkner, 1973, p. 149). By definition, conductors are leaders. Leadership requires competence, credibility, and charisma, and these qualities can influence musicians' attitudes and performances (Parasuraman & Nachman, 1987).
The current role of the conductor dates back to the late eighteenth century. Not until the mid-twentieth century, though, did a traditional focus on gesture or baton technique evolve to include issues of rehearsal technique. The application of scientific inquiry to rehearsing and conducting is a recent phenomenon, and the psychology of large ensemble leadership, even in a popular sense, remains insubstantially addressed.
One might consider conducting and rehearsing as distinctly separate acts, conducting being a nonverbal physical act, and rehearsing being conductor-led