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Beginning conducting curricula: Building course objectives upon the foundations of aural image and natural body movement

Tobin E Stewart, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Beginning conducting textbooks are structured so as to privilege the mastery of generic conducting gestures over the foundations of developing an aural image through score study which in turn stimulates effective and natural body movement. Rather than deriving motion from an aural image, students are expected to show proficiency with generic gestures applied to score markings. In learning these gestures, students not only struggle to develop coordination and effective movement, but they also fail to recognize inorganic and unhealthy movement habits and how these influence performers.^ Rather than structuring a course around generic techniques, this document proposes to start with what is foundational to the art: the music represented in the score. By beginning with score study, students will develop an aural image of the music. Descriptors like quick or sustained, which students generate from their aural images, can then relate to principles of body movement codified by Rudolf Laban and Frederick Alexander. With the aural image in their minds and an understanding of natural movement principles, students can begin to move in ways that will effectively influence ensemble members. Specific technical skills, like conducting metrical patterns, can then be applied to refine and focus the movement that students generate from their internalization of the score. Revising the sequence and emphasis of the components of conducting pedagogy will help students effectively and efficiently acquire and develop skills needed to influence performers toward an aesthetic musical experience.^

Subject Area

Music|Education, Music|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Stewart, Tobin E, "Beginning conducting curricula: Building course objectives upon the foundations of aural image and natural body movement" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3450121.