Music 285

Basic Conducting

Fall 2008

Section 001, MWF 1-1:50 p.m. CAB 1088


Instructor: Joe Hickman. Office hours: MWF 9 - 11; TR 1030-11:30

Office: CAB 1060; telephone: 962-3588; e-mail:

Textbook and supplies:  Joseph Labuta, Basic Conducting Techniques (5th edition) Prentice Hall, conducting baton.

Course Objectives


     The goal of the class is the development of basic skills in conducting (visual gesturing) and associated terminology and score reading skills.  Further, the development of a methodology of rehearsal procedure (especially development of skill in verbalizing one's concept of expected results) and problem solving skills from the podium.

Course Requirements and Attendance Requirements

     Each student will be expected to prepare conducting and score reading assignments regularly and to participate in the class as an ensemble member for others to conduct.  The students who are not on the podium can be expected to be asked questions at any time and should thoroughly prepare and participate in all aspects of the class.  Because the success of the instruction depends upon a responsive ensemble (for both conductors and observers), regular attendance and active participation are required of all students at all times.


     The final grade in the class will be a composite of the following factors:  Average of regular conducting evaluations, average of regular score reading evaluations, average of scores on unannounced quizzes, and a factor of the quality of participation in the ensemble for other conductors.

     It is expected that each conductor will be thoroughly prepared for each appearance on the podium and that the visual gesturing and rehearsal procedure should reflect that preparation.  A written evaluation of each session will be kept.

     Additional assignments may be made by the instructor to conduct rehearsals of the UNCW ensembles (dependent upon availability of such ensemble rehearsal time).



     The training of conductors is an individualized process, but one in which the observers may learn from the experience of being the ensemble and of watching the individual instruction of each member of the class.  It is recognized that each student has a different level of experience and expertise at the beginning of the class.  Instruction will be individualized, and each student will be given tasks that develop his or her ability.

     Despite this individualized process, the knowledge of a common core of information and development of certain skills is required of each participant in the class—the ability to beat time clearly, the ability to prepare entrances and releases clearly, the ability to prepare the score for a rehearsal (by reading the necessary transpositions and/or clefs), the ability to communicate verbally with the ensemble, and the ability to hear discrepancies between the printed music and the sound of the ensemble.

     I recognize that there are differences in the management of choral and instrumental ensembles and that jazz ensembles (especially small groups) are different yet. However, the common visual and oral communication skills needed by all musicians are the content of MUS 285, and all are expected to adopt those techniques and skills and to show respect for your student colleagues and for the subject material. You do this by showing up with your instrument prepared to play at any time you arenŐt conducting.