What would happen to an orchestra if the conductor wasn’t there – could the musicians cope by themselves? Students will discover in this music lesson.
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 Practice the beat patterns at different tempos (slow, medium, and fast).
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
The size of the conducting gestures indicates dynamics (volume): large gestures = loud, small gestures = piano. Conduct a beat pattern and have students count the beats out loud; ask them to get louder and softer as you change the size of your gestures.
Articulation is also indicated by the conductor. Smooth, Flowing Movement indicates Legato, while Sharp, sudden gestures indicate staccato. Show the students these articulations and give students a chance to practice them.
Conductors strive to convey the emotion or mood of the music. Ask selected students to convey a particular emotion (e.g., energetic, gloomy, angry, enjoyable, loving, 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 melodies could be a good place to start. To practice two beat in bar time, use a march; for triple time, use a waltz; for quadruple time, use any of a huge variety of music.
Watch a video of a conductor conducting an orchestra. Can the students recognize particular beat patterns and techniques for expression, dynamics and articulation? Can students identify the various orchestral families and instruments?