Thursday, 9 June 2011


Throughout our study of this topic our understanding of what a conductor's role is has been we have discovered that some believe that the conductor is a vital component of music education, some believe that a conductor can assist any group to understand the composers intentions and others believe that the conductor themselves is not neccessary. It would then be safe to say that the most important factor in terms of music education is the mentor and their ability to assist the student. This mentor can in many cases come in the form of a conductor but is not neccessarily in the formal role. This mentor could be in the form of another instrumentalist/vocalist, a peer, a role model or a teacher.
During the Canberra International Music Festival, many conductors and performers, both professionals and students, came from all around the world to work together and produce something fantastic. Through this experience We think it is safe to say that everyone has taken away a valuable lesson. Those students who were working with professionals were able to experience what it would be like to work in a professional ensemble and the professionals learnt the valuable lesson of adaptability when working with young people. Over this month or so we have gained a better understanding into what it means to be a conductor. You don't just keep the beat and tell the musicians how to play. You coach them, assist them and act as a security blanket if things don't go so well. As a coach, you are able to make the ZPD smaller ,especially for students, so as to help the musicians reach their full potential.

the ZPD

Firstly to those who are unaware, the ZPD is the zone of proximal development outlined by the educational philosopher Vygotsky.
After talking to Gary France and Tor Fromhyr about what it meant to be a conductor and a role model or mentor within a musical setting we got to thinking about what this meant for the long term development of a musician or a musical ensemble.
If you imagine the limits of a persons development being the size of a stretched rubber band. They can only stretch so far without help from a mentor, peer, teacher, conductor, lecturer, etc. However, add one of these leaders inside the rubber band and they can stretch it even further together. The leader allows the student/musician/apprentice to develop further than they could have on their own.

Gary France

 We interviewed Gary France, the percussion lecturer at ANU School of Music, about his thoughts about what it really means to be a conductor.
He had some insightful ideas as to what a conductor can do for an ensemble and how they can really help students understand the message of the music they are performing.
To watch the interview click on the link below.

Interview with Gary France

Tor Fromhyr

 On the 17th of May we (the three of us) had an interview with Tor Fromhyr, the violin lecturer at ANU School of Music. We discussed the difference between a professional ensemble and a student ensemble and the role that peers and role models other than conductors play in the rehearsal and performance process. Below are some links firstly to the interview and then there are some great videos of rehearsals with Pekka Kuusisto.
Interview with Tor Fromhyr

Rehearsal Pt. 1

 Rehearsal Pt. 2

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Interview produced by ABC interviewing Lecturer at the Australian National University, Gary France in regards a recent performance of the Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra by Lou Harrison.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Interview with David Mackay- 16/05/2011

David Mackay- Choral conductor for the Lost Gallipoli Sonata. 
He believes that a conductor acts as both a coach and a safety net for the performers. During rehearsal and preparation he is able to not necessarily improve the abilities of the performers but emphasise their strongest features. In performance he is able to act as a safety net for the performers as they are able to rely on him for direction, support and motivation.
For young people, a conductor is someone who can further their experience in being a musician whether it be through improving their technical ability or helping them with understanding musical context and aiding in stylistic interpretation of the music.
David Mackay has never taught privately but has conducted in both Australia and the United Kingdom and has performed with the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir and the Pocket Score Company. He sees conducting as a performance of its own just like being an instrumentalist or a vocalist. Like any student, his conducting teachers and mentors have had a big influence over his own methods and style. He said however, that as a conductor you must find your own style and method compiled of different aspects from all those who influence you. Your style and methods will take time to develop and will change as you develop your own understanding of music and musicians.
For more information on David Mackay visit

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide footage of rehearsals with David Mackay.