Monday, 2 March 2009

Conducting

The main part of my teaching job these days is teaching music, and the most important part of that job is teaching singing. I've always sung songs with children, ever since the time when I was a playgroup supervisor in Emily's playgroup, and when I was a class teacher I'd always have my guitar with me so that every day was punctuated by songs. However, I've never been that confident about my singing voice, and until recently I'd never had any training either in singing, or in teaching it.

So, after a couple of years of encouraging singing in my school I had children who loved singing, had a great sense of rhythm and were really musical, and I realized I needed to know how to take them to another level. I also figured out that while I was sitting playing the guitar I couldn't help them to sing. I needed to conduct them. The result of all that is that when I saw a conducting course advertised in Great Yarmouth with James Davey I thought it was just the thing. And it was. But it was very hard work, in just the same way that the mountain course I described in an earlier post was.

I had never even done that basic time-beating thing that conductors do - a bit like making the sign of the cross, only not. So suddenly finding myself standing in front of twenty-four fellow students trying to conduct them was incredibly daunting and confusing and pretty stressful too. But you do learn fast like that. And if I learned nothing else I learned that what you do when you stand in front of a group of singers really does directly affect what they do - how you stand, your expression, how you move - it's all incredibly important. It may seem obvious, but the difference between sitting playing a guitar while people sing and conducting their performance
couldn't be greater. When I went for a run this morning I found myself beating time and singing Jubilate Deo. I'm hoping that's not a serious problem.

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