Is There More to Conducting than Just Waving a Baton?

By Zara Talbot, Year 10 Journalist Leader

Have you ever wondered what the flailing arms of a conductor mean? 

I recently took part in a conducting masterclass as part of a Da Vinci club session led by our Director of Music Miss Goodsell and really enjoyed it! Just waving a baton looks easy, however you are very aware that the whole orchestra is counting on you and if you make a mistake, then the piece is ruined. As you may know, different movements with the baton show different tempos and different time signatures. This makes it harder to make sure you are doing the right gesture, along with counting people in and making sure that everyone ends the piece at the same time.

Below are diagrams of how a conductor moves his/her arms in 2,4 time, 3,4 time and 4,4 time:


The conductor is really the main person in the orchestra and without them, it would be much more difficult to play a piece of music. You could even say that the conductor is the music maker, even though he or she doesn’t actually play!

As well as organising what music the orchestra plays, the conductor may be counted on to generate interest in certain performances. Conducting goes back over 200 years and even though people still played in an orchestra without conductors, I would find it difficult to keep in time!

So yes, there is much more to conducting than just waving a baton. And if you get a chance to explore this amazing opportunity to try it for yourself, then take it!

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