Choral Conducting: History and Didactics
van der Sandt JT
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This publication deals with the qualities of an effective choral conductor with reference to the historical roots of the choral conductor and with special reference to certain didactical approaches to working with children’s choirs. The book tries to address the deficiency in the make-up and training of choral conductors with regard to the communicative, technical and expressive skills in directing and conducting vocal ensembles. The choral conductor’s role goes far and beyond that of the obvious role to communicate musical meaning through gestures and non-verbal communication. His/her choral conducting tool kit must not only possess the necessary musicianship skills focussed on choral technical issues, and the needed body of knowledge with regards to the art of choral singing, but must also feature his/her role as a rehearsal technician, an inspirer, a motivator, a teacher, a communicator, a leader and a role model. It is the unique combination of the above mentioned aspects that serves to define the level of effective conducting, or rather musical leadership for each individual conductor. This book endeavoured to focus on the teachable skills of a conductor and not to deal with the debate as to whether successful conductors are born or taught. To sing is one of the oldest forms of communication. The path to create an independent, lifelong learner and enjoyer of music lies not only in ensuring the musical literacy of a child, but to initiate creative, responsive and performative artistic processes wherein the child’s gained music literacy will lead to the independent ability to use, identify, enjoy and manipulate the elements of music. As the book is an outflow of the First International Symposium on Children’s Choirs hosted by the Faculty of Education, Free University of Bolzano/Bozen in November 2016, it contains valuable contributions by Antonella Coppi, Oskar Egle and Matthias Stubenvoll, three of the speakers at the mentioned Symposium, that focusses on didactical approaches to lead children’s choirs. Singing with children can be one of the most pleasing and rewarding tasks of a conductor or music educator. It is rewarding because as music educator/conductor one is part of not only the musical growth, but also the personal development of children.