Three Things Conductors Want

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Yesterday I visited a rehearsal by the ASU symphony orchestra and the conductor confirmed something I have said a number of times before. Conductors love players who can play with character. He mentioned an example of the great woodwind players of the past having very distinctive styles and character to their playing.

As I have said before in this site, in an audition especially make a bit of a statement, don’t be boring or bland. Don’t be over the top either, too much character is a bad thing (never be a blaster!) but even if a conductor does not like your interpretation exactly at least you have one that they can mold the way they want it. Once I saw in a review someone described as performing in a “workmanlike” manner. This you never want said of you, aim for a higher level.

Another thing on my mind lately is that you have to lead when you play. Every player in a section needs to lead and be on the same page. A section of followers is not good; they will drag constantly and never be on top of the beat.

Speaking of being on top of the beat, unless a conductor has some sort of delayed beat concept (like Ormandy did in Philadelphia in the old days) conductors want you to watch them like crazy and be on top of the beat. Related to this is the importance of building of trust between you and the conductor, a trust that you will lay down the notes for them. I could go into many lengthy stories about this, but if confidence is lost between the conductor and you it is not good, it may take a while for you to earn it back.

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To review, conductors want horn players who play on their beat that they can trust to watch them and who will not only lay down the notes but also do something more than play the notes. Be one of those players.

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