Study guide.

by Professor
Vitaliy Kutsenko

Honored Artist of Ukraine, prominent figure of culture and art of Ukraine, continuer of the traditions of the Leningrad school of conducting. He graduated from the Leningrad State Conservatory of Music of Nikolay Rabinovich (1968) and Isaak Sherman, and completed postgraduate studies at the Kazan Conservatory with Professor, People's Artist of the RSFSR, Nathan Rakhlin. Laureate of the State Prize of the Mari ASSR (1973) and Honored Artist of the Mari ASSR (1974).

Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Kharkiv Lysenko National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater  from 1997 to 2015.

Professor of the Kharkiv National University of Arts named after I.P. Kotlyarevsky from 2015.

Preparation, education and training of conductors is perhaps the youngest subject in our modern understanding, although, of course, it has its own centuries-old prehistory. Conducting at different stages of development has undergone all sorts of changes until it acquired its modern form.
Although many works devoted to the issues of conducting have been published recently (monographs on prominent conductors, textbooks, manuals, various articles, etc.
Speaking about the methodology of mastering any specialty, we take into account the fact that there is an unlimited range of activities that a teacher can apply in his work. In each case, the teacher must take into account the level of professional training of the student, his abilities, his general and musical development, and at the same time - the degree of complexity of the work being studied in terms of its musical content and its technical implementation in conducting. The ultimate goal of the teacher, his main task is to educate a conductor - a musician who would meet the high requirements of modern mastery of this art.
In the process of formation of the conductor's artistic personality, an important role is played by the formation of his worldview, the continuous growth of knowledge in the field of philosophy, aesthetics, history and other arts. Therefore, during the training period, any discipline included in the curriculum is no less important for the conductor than the specialty. A thorough study of all musical and general subjects will complement and consolidate the knowledge gained in the conducting class and create a basis for the development of a general and musical outlook.
The range of tasks facing the teacher-educator is extremely wide. Ideological and educational work requires special attention in the educational process.

A teacher is not only a highly qualified specialist and an erudite musician who helps a student to master the whole educational process, but also a mentor who should constantly influence the student morally, inspire and support him. We should not forget that the teacher passes on to the student not only his musical, but also life experience.
Succession is a consistent transfer of something from one to another.

Consistency - the absence of contradictions in the logical order of something.

Trust - confidence in someone's honesty, sincerity, in the correctness of something based on this attitude to someone. Without trust to the teacher there can be no continuity.
Along with this, there are still tasks of a slightly different plan that require more attention from both the teacher and the student. Take for example such an important issue as the education of will. After all, we can't imagine a conductor devoid of firmness of character and will. The student is the future organizer, leader of a large team, its educator. Authority in the team, the need to subdue it to your will are unthinkable without the above qualities.
The profession of a conductor is very difficult. It requires great mental and nervous tension, as well as good health, endurance, self-control and endurance.


Regardless of the student's background, the beginning of classes should be devoted to a number of issues of conducting technique.
At the first stage, that is, at the beginning of acquaintance with the student, there is always a need to establish certain principles for the interpretation of certain conducting techniques, examples of the interpretation of the metric system, etc. Sometimes it is necessary to free the student's apparatus from constraint.

Function of the hands.
First, it is recommended to establish the functions of the conductor's hands. In conducting, different types of hand movements are used:
- symmetrical or identical;
- separate, when both hands with a single purpose simultaneously perform different technical tasks.
The question of what type of movement to use in each case is solved depending on the nature of the music, dynamics, texture, tempo of any moment in the work.
Despite the fact that the right and left hands can perform any task, the practice of conducting often determines the requirements for each hand.
The right hand, which in conducting seems to be the guiding principle, is intended primarily for tact, that is, for showing metrical beats. At the same time, it determines the tempo, the nature of movement, dynamics, gives an introduction to individual voices and groups, marks accents, fermatas, syncopations. The tapping performed by the right hand is not a mechanical process, but follows entirely from the peculiarities of the music being performed.
The left hand is used to introduce instruments, voices, groups, to show various dynamic shades of performance, as well as to show phrasing, breathing, sounding, cessuras, the content of the melodic pattern, harmony of texture.
This does not mean that such tasks cannot be performed with the right, and sometimes with both hands. We only emphasize how great is the variety of movements and their combinations used by the conductor, and raise the question of the independence of the hands. If the movements of one hand are automatically duplicated by the second, it leads to the monotony of conducting.
However, we should not assume that symmetrical hand movements cannot be used at all when conducting. For example, with a powerful, solemn sound of the whole orchestra in order to emphasize the character of such music, the conductor's hands will involuntarily support each other with the same movements.
Conductors of opera performances also often use symmetrical conducting, when the orchestra, chorus and soloists perform parts simultaneously. This is necessary for greater control over the process of performing the work.
Based on the above, we can draw a number of conclusions about the functions of the conductor's hands. The main differences between the functions of the left and right hands are that the tapping is necessarily carried out by the right hand, while other functions can be equally entrusted to the right and left hands. The issue of independence of hands in their hands is one of the most difficult problems of conducting technique.

The conductor's apparatus.
How to achieve the desired freedom of coordination of movements, independence of hands?
Before studying metric schemes, it is necessary to determine the position of the parts of the conductor's apparatus. All parts of the conducting apparatus are interconnected and are in a certain dependence on each other.
The body while conducting should be straight, calm, devoid of tension and at the same time - collected, with a slightly raised chest and turned shoulders.
The shoulders should not rise too high - it constrains the back muscles, leads to the release of the elbows, to the unnatural position of the whole body.
Do not close the body, hunch over, lower the shoulders low. Excessive mobility of the body: too frequent turns, bows when showing introductions and so on, creates the impression of fussiness, laxity and, as a rule, is caused by imperfect technical skills.
The head is usually slightly raised when conducting. This position is the most comfortable. Having bowed his head, the conductor cannot see all the performers well and in turn, the performers need to see the conductor's face. After all, the conductor concentrates the attention of the performers, shows the introduction to individual voices, groups, etc.
When conducting, the legs provide a firm and stable support for the whole body. When conducting, the body inevitably acquires different positions and legs, its supports - constantly change their position. Despite the fact that changing the position of the legs is inevitable, you should not resort to it too often, so as not to create the impression of trampling. When performing episodes with intense sound, fortissimo, tutti, etc., both legs usually serve as a support for the body.
Hands are the basis and the most important part of the conductor's apparatus. Various positions of the hands, their movements should be free, comfortable, natural and, above all, appropriate to the nature of each moment of performance.
As you know, the hand consists of a hand, forearm and shoulder. A great role in conducting is played by the hand - the most mobile and expressive part of the hand. The shoulder and forearm are organically connected with the bone and are used to the extent necessary for the movements of the bone itself. The parts of the hand are so interdependent in their movements that any, even the slightest movement of the hand (for example, light staccato and pianissimo) inevitably requires the participation of the forearm and shoulder muscles.

Conductor's metric scheme.
In the beginning, the most important thing in working with a student is the question of metric schemes. The study of interpretation schemes should begin with familiarization with the structure of all metric schemes. It is advisable to highlight three very important provisions.
1. The study of metrical schemes is carried out only on musical material.
2. At the beginning of the study of schemes, musical samples are used only in slow tempos, in a calm character.
3. The initial practical mastering of the schemes on musical samples is carried out with one right hand.
The next question is from which meter you should start familiarizing yourself with the schemes. The study of metrical schemes, mastering them is most rational to start with a four-dotted meter. Mastering the scheme of four-milk meter, the student within its limits gets acquainted with all types of conductor's gesture, with all its directions. Here, along with the strong and weak fate of the beat, he meets with a relatively strong fate. Thus, the four-bar meter is a certain basis for building other schemes.

Conductor's auftakt.
We adhere to the position that the first fraction of a beat in all schemes should be determined only by the movement directed downwards. For greater expressiveness of the interpretation, it is necessary to achieve clarity and sufficient depth of the gesture, which determines the strong fate in any scheme. It should be borne in mind that the expressiveness of the first fate largely depends on the clarity of the latter, which in this case plays a dual role: it is the last for the scheme, and the aftershock to the first fate.
Needless to say, the aufkact is always directed upwards. This is a preparatory or warning swing, which can be compared to taking a breath in singers or brass players. The conductor uses it, showing the beginning of the performance of the work or its part, episode, phrase. With the help of the auftakt, the conductor gives an introduction to groups of instruments or individual instruments in the orchestra, uses it to change the tempo, harmony, to show each moment of dynamic, rhythmic character that should be highlighted in the performance. Even stopping the sound cannot be done without the help of aftershocks.
From all of the above, it is clear how important the auftakt is in conducting as a gesture that prepares the movement into which it directly passes. Speaking about the expressiveness of conducting, we are primarily talking about the expressiveness of the auftakt.

The concept of introduction.
There is no question about the responsibility of any introductions when performed at the beginning of the work, where the whole orchestra, a group of instruments, instrumental voices or the introduction of a solo instrument or vocalist, or their ensemble, in some separate place.
The conductor is obliged to provide simultaneous and timely entrances, which should be marked by complete coherence in dynamics, tempo, strokes, etc. It is in this that the conductor's ability to show the introduction well or, in other words, the ability to mobilize the attention of the performers before the introduction and give a clear auftakt, which turns into a gesture of showing the introduction. Conducting in the classroom, when the orchestra replaces the piano, it is important from the very beginning of the training to perform the skill of constantly imagining the orchestra, the location of the orchestral groups and the ability to feel the timbre. When showing the introduction, the student should address the imaginary performers. As a result, the raising of hands before the introduction will largely determine the peculiarities of the beginning of the piece. Showing introductions in the middle of a piece does not require as much internal preparation from the conductor as before the beginning of the piece. To show the introduction in the middle of the work it is advisable to use the left hand.
Very important in conducting is the gesture that stops the sound, as they say - removes it. Here again the question of aftershocks arises. The amplitude (volume) of the conductor's gesture depends on the dynamics, tempo, and nature of the music. Louder sounding requires wider, decisive, intense gestures, quiet sounding - vice versa.
In general, you should cultivate a sense of proportion regarding the amplitude of the gesture, avoid too sweeping movements. The gesture should be as expressive and economical as possible. In addition, many students probably have to hear the remark "Reduce the gesture! This is Haydn, not Wagner!". A correct understanding of the style also tells the conductor the degree of gesture movement.
Mastering the skill of conducting is a work on the work itself. Only a deep study of the content of the score, all the expressive means by which the author embodied his idea, allows the conductor to realize the remarks put before him.

In conclusion, I would like to say parting words to the student conductors. Do not consider the profession of conductor as something that can comfort your ego. Most likely, the profession of conductor is another personal step in your own musical development, which will not end as long as your heart beats. And remember that it is your work in enriching the knowledge of the profession of conductor, is the very masonry of stones from which future pearls of conducting grow.
I wish you all health and a happy journey through the ocean of music!

Honored Artist of Ukraine, Professor - Vitaliy Kutsenko

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