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The University of Southampton

MUSI2020 Conducting

Module Overview

This module covers basic gestures used in duple, triple, compound, mixed and asymmetric metres; cueing of players and singers, and introducing expressive gestures for dynamics, phrasing etc.; basic approaches to rehearsal and score-marking technique.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• teach you the elements of conducting technique • develop skills in communicating and interacting with other musicians, both physically and verbally • build confidence in working with other musicians • develop skills in score-marking, learning and preparation

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the basic conducting patterns in two, three and four beats, and some asymmetrical patterns
  • the gestures associated with entrances, cut-offs, and expression
  • ways in which to prepare for a rehearsal
  • what to listen for in rehearsal
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply analytical technique to the score of an ensemble or vocal work
  • anticipate problems that are likely to arise in the performance of a work
  • find imaginative ways of solving problems in ensemble performance
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • manage a group of musicians of varying ability, so that you will be able to work with musicians ranging from professional players to schoolchildren.
  • make effective use of limited time to achieve a desired result
  • cope with the stress of putting together an assessed performance
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use a baton to indicates 2, 3, 4 and 6 beats per bar, and more complex patterns
  • use manual and facial gestures to help performers enter and exit, to play or sing louder or softer and with specific expression
  • mark up a score for rehearsal and performance
  • make efficient use of limited rehearsal time


The module, which meets for four hours per week throughout the semester, consists of lectures, practical sessions, and assessments. You will be taught the basic conducting posture, and patterns for conducting in 2, 3 and 4 beats per bar. You will then learn how to show attacks and releases, cues and pauses. Practical sessions will lead to a first assessment at the half-way point. In the second half of the module, you will be taught how to mark up a score for a rehearsal, and be shown simple methods for conducting in complex or asymmetrical patterns (5/8, 7/8 etc); the remainder of the semester is devoted to practical sessions on music of increasing complexity. The final assessment takes place at the end of the semester.

Special Features

By carefully learning the music you are asked to perform, by dedicated practice of the basic techniques and gestures of choral and orchestral conducting, and by adopting positive critical and self-critical approaches to rehearsing music, you will develop the necessary musical and personal skills to make the best use of time for the controlled and expressive performance of ensemble music.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include ï‚· lecturing and demonstrations ï‚· classroom (concert hall) practice sessions ï‚· videotaping conducting sessions Learning activities include ï‚· practical work in class ï‚· marking up of scores, and other activities preparatory to rehearsals ï‚· studying videotapes of yourself (and others) conducting

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Georg Solti (1997). Solti on Solti. 

Myer Fredman (1999). The Conductor’s Domain. 

Christopher Adey (1998). Orchestral Performance. 

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1989). The Musical Dialogue. 

Jean Vermeil (1996). Conversations with Boulez: Thoughts on Conducting. 

Max Ruldolph (1993). The Grammar of Conducting. 

Nicholas Kenyon (2001). Simon Rattle: From Birmingham to Berlin. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback  in-class discussion of conducting technique  videotaping of conducting sessions  interaction with fellow students


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 20%
Assessment 60%
Assignment 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 75%
Assessment 25%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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