Music conductors play a special function in the world of music. They make no sound themselves, either by playing an instrument or singing, but they direct the ensemble of sounds that others make. Their instrument is the entire orchestra or choir, and they command the undivided respect and attentive attention of the artists they conduct.
Similar Job Titles
- Chief Conductor
- Principal Conductor
- Orchestral Conductor
- Choral Conductor
- Concert Band Conductor
- Ensemble Conductor
- Music Director
- Musical Director
- Choral Director
- Band Director
- Chorus Master
- Drum Major
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Music Conductors do?
A Music Conductor would typically need to:
- Inspire, direct, and lead a group of musicians and singers in a creative rendition of one or more pieces of music; determine the tempo of the song so that all performers can follow the same rhythm.
- Be a consummate musician who knows music so well that they can read any composition’s score to guide players with appropriate interpretations of tone, tempo, pitch, rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, harmonies balance, and other musical components.
- Use their hands, a baton or both to indicate musical sound fluctuations and compositional tempo.
- Conduct symphony orchestras, dancing or marching bands, pit orchestras, film or recording studio bands, glee clubs, and choirs in a range of contexts such as schools, churches, or cathedrals.
- Learn to interpret many musical styles; be proficient in music transcription, sight-reading, and keyboard ability.
- Create a distinct and appealing stage presence that establishes and preserves a public image that reflects and communicates to the actors and the audience the positive emotional spirit and togetherness of the entire ensemble.
- Choose seasonal or special musical programmes and compositions to play. create ideas for transforming a piece of music into a finished performance top musicians and guest artists for auditions
- Conduct rehearsals; instruct musicians on their respective parts and on balancing instruments and vocals; provide comments; present performances, directing musicians and performers by providing timings and cues;
- Working often with non-profit boards of directors or other funding sources to coordinate finances and build strategic management strategies that ensure yearly or ongoing budgets; general promotion and fundraising for the music group they head
- Have administrative skills and a solid understanding of business management practises; have great communication skills and an understanding of the human psychology in order to bring sensitivity to their performances and connections with ensemble members
Standard Work Environment
A Music Conductor may operate indoors in a school’s music room or auditorium, in a recording studio, or in a well-known concert hall, or even outside on a park’s open-air stage. Amateur choirs usually rehearse and perform at the same location, such as a church or a community hall. You would be enlisted and assigned to a certain base if you conduct an armed forces band. If you command a professional orchestra or choir, you may rehearse at a set location or travel for performances and competitions within the country or abroad.
The venue determines the quality of facilities such as lighting, temperature and humidity management, sound equipment, and musical instruments. It could range from low-grade to cutting-edge.
There may or may not be regular or fixed working hours. While you will most likely be working in the evenings or on weekends, you will also require time at home to prepare for upcoming performances.
Finding a new job may appear difficult. Music conductors can improve their job hunt by asking their network for references, directly contacting ensembles, businesses, and educational institutions, and utilizing social media. Typically, jobs are not advertised.
To begin, look for opportunities to command small ensembles. Make contact with other Music Conductors and volunteer to assist or guest conduct for them. Videos of your conducting are useful for demonstrating your experience and skill.
Once you’ve made a reputation for yourself, you’ll be in high demand. As a guest conductor, you would frequently travel to conduct orchestras and choruses.
However, keep in mind that freelancing is more common than securing stable and full-time jobs.
Music Conductors are generally employed by:
- Public & Private Schools
- Colleges & Universities
- Orchestras, Choruses, & Bands
- Summer Festivals
- Community Orchestras
- Local Opera Companies
- Professional Musical Theatre Groups
- Amateur Groups
- Famous Orchestras, Theatres & Opera Companies
- Recording Studios
- Broadcasting & Film Studios
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and associations, such as the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA), are essential for MRI Technician who wants to further their professional growth or interact with other professionals in their sector or trade. Membership in one or more of these organizations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- Dealing with the multiple and complex temperaments and personalities characteristic of an ensemble of musicians and singers
- Physically demanding and stressful work
- Managing the complexity of conducting an orchestra and chorus together because two ensembles typically have a different sense of timing and many orchestras do not play precisely on the beat
- Not having authority yet controlling the musical interpretation of a piece is tricky for guest conductors due to their temporary relationship with the musicians on whose cooperation and performing skills they must depend
- The likelihood of being held accountable for much more than the performance of the musicians
- Often need to juggle responsibilities while on the road due to considerable travel time
- Complexities in the ways that orchestras are organized and managed
Suggested Work Experience
Most Music Conductors begin their careers as musicians, volunteering in conservatories and music schools as assistant conductors. Your teacher may occasionally allow you to assist them.
Apprenticeships and internships provide significant opportunity to get hands-on experience and skills to prepare you for assignments in a competitive field. Unions or groups for conductors, as well as online job boards, are useful resources in your job search. Apprenticeships may also be available at music festivals and community venues such as youth orchestras.
Competitions or forming your own ensemble will also put you in the spotlight. A summer conducting course would help you develop your abilities and network. Make a portfolio of video recordings of your conducting tasks to show prospective employers.
An aspiring Music Conductor often possesses expertise in one or more musical instruments, making an entrance into your desired music program easier. A bachelor’s degree in music or composition is preferred, but a position as conductor of a symphony orchestra may necessitate a master’s degree. Some universities may offer music conducting courses. You could also pursue a performance degree. Concurrently learning one or more languages, such as French, Italian, or German, would be beneficial when conducting choirs.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
The places in which you live or want to lead music will determine whether you need any further qualifications. A teacher’s license, for example, is required to teach in a school.
Individual government agencies are in charge of licensing. It usually necessitates passing an exam in addition to meeting eligibility requirements such as a certain degree of education, job experience, training, or completion of an internship, residency, or apprenticeship.
Voluntary certification from a reputable and objective institution is frequently viewed as evidence of an individual’s passion and purpose, and it can help you establish professional credibility. It can also boost your job confidence, encourage rejuvenation, and allow you to work as an independent consultant.
Projected Career Map
You can teach and conduct at the same time by pursuing a career in education at music colleges, university music departments, or conservatories. You may be the Director of Music.
An orchestra is not structured in a hierarchical manner. You could progress from assistant conductor to concertmaster. With enough experience, you may be able to advance from leading small community orchestras to working with well-known and large national orchestras, choruses, opera companies, and television and film companies. Such progress provides the Music Conductor with sufficient attention and positive feedback. Conductors can even advance to executive positions such as Creative Director, Artistic Director, or Executive Director.
The music business is extremely competitive. Your job prospects will improve if you have exceptional musical skills, proficiency in instruments and conducting, and evidence of dedication.
Beneficial Professional Development
CPD is the holistic commitment of professionals to improving personal skills and proficiency throughout their active professions through work-based learning, professional activity, formal education, or self-directed learning. There are numerous CPD courses, seminars, and workshops available to assist professionals in the area, such as online musical leadership training.
CPD enables people to consistently improve their skills, regardless of their age, career, or degree of expertise. It keeps practical and academic credentials current, helps individuals to detect knowledge gaps, and gives professionals the option to advance to a new specialty.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to direct, or perhaps it came to you while studying music in college. As a Music Conductor, you will never stop learning. Each musical performance you direct better prepares you for the next. The voyage is difficult, but the benefits include traveling to new places, meeting new people, and, most importantly, listening to and leading musicians from all over the world.
Advice from the Wise
Be proactive, resilient, and truthful with yourself, but avoid self-pity. Find opportunities to conduct and learn by making several mistakes. Rely on reliable colleagues to inform you of what they require. Don’t be hurried. Choose your area of expertise – orchestra, musicals, or films – so you can find your way there.