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.
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. Select individual students to choose a pattern, conduct it, and have the other students 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: big gestures = loud, small movements = 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.
Conductors also indicate articulation. Sharp gestures indicate staccato while smooth gestures indicate legato. Show the students these articulations and give students a chance to practice them.
Conductors also do a lot to convey the mood or emotion in the music. Have one student conduct and attempt to convey an emotion (e.g., happy, gloomy, agressive, triumphant, loving, etc.) while conducting a beat pattern. Have the students guess what emotion is being played.
Have the students listen to some music and have students conduct along with them. National anthems or other familiar melodies could be a good place to start. To practice duple 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 someone conducting an orchestra. Can the students recognize particular beat patterns and techniques for expression, dynamics and articulation? Have the students identify the various Orchestral instruments and families