Students often need to learn about that guy at the front of the orchestra who waves his hands. What is he there for? and why on earth does he get paid so much money?
These are all ideas that students can use to learn about the conductor in the orchestra. There is a complete lesson plan on this subject in Our Printable Music Lesson Plans Series
Demonstrate the basic beat patterns. Have students practice the patterns using pencils or drinking straws as temporary batons. You can play a game where you have one student conduct a pattern and the others have to identify it Don’t forget to show the students the beat patterns at different tempi (fast, medium and slow).
Dynamics are indicated by the size of the conducting gestures: large gestures = forte, small movements = piano. You can practice this by conducting a pattern and having the students count the beats out loud, getting softer or louder as you change your movements.
Conductors also indicate articulation. Smooth, Flowing Movement indicates Legato, while Sharp, sudden gestures indicate staccato. Demonstrate these articulations and allow students to practice them.
Conductors strive to convey the emotion or mood of the music. Ask selected students to convey a particular emotion (e.g., happy, gloomy, aggressive, enjoyable, tender, etc.) while conducting a beat pattern. Have the students guess what emotion is being played.
Listen to pieces of music and have students conduct along with them. Folk songs or other familiar tunes could be a good place to start. To practice two beat in bar time, use a march; for triple time, use a waltz; for four beat time, use any of a large variety of pieces.
Watch a video of a conductor conducting an orchestra. Can the students recognize particular beat patterns and techniques for dynamics, articulation, and expression? Have the students identify the various Orchestral instruments and families