The organizers of this course believe that an understanding of leadership and management are essential skills for conductors.
Conducting can be defined as the act or the art of directing a musical performance. This involves a thorough understanding of music and the technical ability to transfer musical ideas to orchestras. These areas such as baton technique, repertoire, rehearsals, and score reading are well covered during the conducting courses offered by music academies.
However, successful conductors cannot merely rely on musical understanding and baton technique, they also need to be good leaders and managers. Leadership refers to the ability to influence, motivate, and enable people to contribute toward organizational success, all core attributes of a good conductor. A conductor needs to be able to transfer a vision to a large group of musicians who need to follow this vision. Technical skills are one-half of the requirements. The other half, equally important, are leadership skills, which demand a good understanding of psychological, social, and cultural factors that determine individual and group behaviour.
Leading is about vision and influence, but one also needs to be able to implement one’s vision. That is management. Management is about administering and making sure that the day-to-day activities that are necessary to be effective are happening as they should. Without both good musical and business management, orchestras and ensembles cannot function. Not every leader needs to be in control of every management task, but good leaders need to have a good understanding of the management requirements and take care that they are put in place and enacted competently.
It is therefore surprising that leadership and management are not covered as core competencies in conducting courses. Many of the essential leadership and management skills can be taught and everyone can become a better leader and manager by understanding the principles and best examples of practice involved.
This introductory course is planned to offer an understanding of the key leadership and management skills that are important for a conductor. The teachers are a mix of conductors, musicians and leaders, and managers with experience in a variety of fields. All have a long experience of how to turn a vision into reality, and how to work effectively with people.
The course consists of 8 sessions of about 2.5 hours each. Topics are selected because of their importance during the career of a conductor. The sessions have been designed as starting with an introductory lecture, followed by an interview with the lecturer, highlighting some of the important points. Next will be some exploration with the participants, and finally a question-and-answer session. Occasionally participants will be asked to complete an assignment before the next session. The course will be of an interactive nature, expecting participants to be practically involved, completing some tasks and contributing their own experiences.
The course targets conductors at the start of their careers. It will be conducted by distant learning. The number of active participants will be limited to approx. 12 people, with some additional observers, auditors.