Conducting Technique: For Beginners and Professionals (Anglais) Couverture à spirales – 24 mars 2005
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You will refer to this book, as I do, for the rest of your musical life!
McElheran's treatise is laid out in ultra-clear chapters, all of which are concise and contain possible "Assignments." Not to get too bogged down in the mire of conducting gesture, McElheran's first chapter is on Inspiration. In short, "make the performers want to do their best," he says.
The next few chapters cover aspects such as the baton, beat patterns, the left hand, dynamics and other aspects of music, cues, off-beat accents, fermatas, and some aspects about rehearsals and performance. There are more chapters but you get the picture. All are good.
Some readers may wonder if this is meant for "orchestral" or "choral" conducting. McElheran states clearly that there is (or should be) little difference and that choral conductors should develop an orchestral technique. While I would say that good choral and orchestral conducing are about 95 % similar (perhaps even more so), choral conductors should be aware that there are some differences, especially in ideas of always "hitting the imaginary table" or conducting every single beat. Nonetheless, Conducting Technique can be very helpful for the beginning choral conductor.
Moreover, McElheran's writing style is very fresh and full of self-effacing wit. Reading the book gives one the impression that Brock McElheran is the type of person who takes the art of music seriously but not himself seriously. I think any beginner of conducting should consult this book, and even professionals might want to have it around just as a reference.
There's room for argument with some of what McElheran says, and I haven't yet seen a choral conductor who works as he recommends, but the book is clear, sensible, brief, and practical, What's more, it's in better shape than most of my music, although it's travelled further and lived rougher.
I've found the exercises very useful, especially those with "a group of friends". I tried these with my novice choir, in a spirit of "let's explore", and we all learnt from them.
Warmly recommended for anyone interested in conducting, even those who are not about to try their hand, with or without baton, at it.