Helping students learn about classical conductors

Why does the conductor of an orchestra get paid so much money?, and what exactly does he do anyway?

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

You can show the students the basic beat patterns for conducting, and have them practice using pencils or drinking straws as a baton 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 gestures = soft. 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. Show the students these articulations and allow students 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., energetic, gloomy, impressive, 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. 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 music.

Have the students watch a video of a conductor 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