A conducting teacher at my school uses the term “conductorized” to describe what happens to conductors–especially student conductors–when they get stuck thinking about their conducting while they’re conducting.

You see, student conductor is an oxymoron.  A conductor is a leader, a student is a follower: one cannot be both simultaneously.  And when one tries, one often becomes conductorized.

For example, say you’re an undergraduate music student in your first semester of conducting class.  You prepare to conduct a piece of music for class, get up in front of your classmates, raise your baton, and conduct the assigned excerpt.  Then the teacher says to you “good job showing dynamics and subdividing.  Very musical.  Now I’d like to you keep your elbow away from your body and drop your shoulder, and try a continuation rebound style of subdivision in measure four.”  And you try, nobly, to keep all the dynamics and subdivision and musicality that the teacher praised while also keeping your elbow out and your shoulder relaxed and remembering that in measure four you should change the rebound style.

Boom.  You’ve been conductorized.  You’re thinking about your conducting, not listening to the music, not responding spontaneously to the sound in the room, not embodying the composer’s expressive intent.  All the ensemble sees in your face is your concentration on your own internal observation.  You’re working on your conducting by not conducting at all.

Thankfully, the kind and generous teacher laughs lightly and lets you know that you’ve been conductorized and it’s understandable, and there’s no reason to fret.  Get thee to a practice room, the teacher says, and teach your muscles this new sensation until they don’t remember the old habits and you can default to this new technique even when you’re not thinking about it.

Until it becomes subconscious.  Until the intelligence of your body becomes the source of your conducting, without interference from your consciousness.  Until conductorization becomes conducting.

This entry was posted in conductor culture, embodiment. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to conductorized

  1. liz garnett says:

    Funnily enough, I was musing on similar conundrums about a month ago:

    BTW, I do think it’s cool to need a tag ’embodiment’ on your blog.

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