Conducting Instrumental Performance

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The graduate programs in conducting are designed to be small and highly selective. The objective of the master's and doctoral programs in conducting is to nurture highly competent musicians/conductors who will function at a very high level in professional and academic settings. The music faculty of FROST School of Music considers study in music history, theory and related fields essential components of a conductor's preparation. The musical environment provided by the university and the Miami metropolitan area represents an ideal setting for graduate study in band, choral, and orchestral conducting. The FROST School of Music maintains an excellent library and a distinguished faculty in addition to sponsoring numerous performing organizations. These performing ensembles, which are composed entirely of graduate and undergraduate students, differ in size, purpose and repertoire. Collectively they provide an outstanding musical resource for those enrolled in the conducting program. 

Orchestral Conducting Program  

Candidates for a graduate degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Miami Frost School of Music must demonstrate exceptional musical ability both as a conductor and as a performer on their primary instrument. Enrollment for this major is only by special permission and is highly competitive. Only one student is taken at a time to allow maximum podium and mentoring time and the successful candidate will become the Orchestral Studies Teaching Assistant.  Applicants are prescreened and finalists are invited for an on-campus interview/audition for the position. 

Graduate students will conduct the following recitals as a minimum: 

  • Chamber concert (repertoire such as Stravinski’s L'HIstoire, Copland Appalachian Spring, etc)
  • Classical Orchestra concert (Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven sized)
  • Full symphony Orchestra concert (Post 19th Century Symphonic works)

In addition, during regular FSO concerts: 

  • Premiere at least one orchestra work
  • Conduct a minimum of 3 full concerti or equivalent

While in residence, students are guided through score analysis in various styles, develop rehearsal plans, guided in preparation on a daily basis and are engaged in the process of producing, recording and editing. 

Wind Conducting Program 

Candidates for a graduate degree in Wind Conducting at the University of Miami Frost School of Music must demonstrate exceptional musical ability both as a conductor and as a performer on their primary instrument.  Graduate students majoring in wind conducting will have the opportunity to conduct performances with all wind bands, which include the Frost Wind Ensemble (twice a year), Symphonic Winds (twice a year), University Band (spring), and work directly with the Frost Band of the Hour (Marching and Athletic Bands).  Teaching assistants will participate in the day-to-day operations of the FSOM Band program.  These duties include assisting with all aspects of the concert ensembles, concert tours, recruiting, outreach/social/digital media, Frost Honor Band, UM Commencements, etc.  Our program is thoughtfully designed to offer each student significant and profound musical and academic growth experiences as well as the professional opportunities to deepen one’s knowledge and understanding of all aspects of a comprehensive university band program.  Applicants are prescreened and finalists are invited for an on-campus interview/audition for the position. 

For more information on Conducting Programs, please click here.

Leadership is important in music, and conductors have a long history of leading orchestras, choral groups, and other ensembles in achieving performances of beautiful music. At times, conducting can be subtle and gestural, so some audience members may get the impression that conducting looks easy. However, the conductors we see on stage are seasoned and learned professionals with superb leadership abilities.

What is Musical Conducting?

A musical performance has a conductor. We are most used to seeing conductors at the orchestra or among chorale groups, but conductors enjoy directing a wide range of musical ensembles and groups.

Conductors do perform the essential task of keeping the musicians together so that they perform to the same tempo. They also work with musicians to invoke stylization of the piece of music, impressing a distinctive flair onto the composition. This is where musical conducting becomes really interesting—through eye contact, gesture, use of the baton, and other non-verbal techniques, conductors allow an ensemble to transform a great piece of music into something magnificent.

Why Should I Go to School for Conducting?

What kind of musician has an essential role during a performance without touching an instrument? The answer is conductors, of course. Because the conductor is the director, he or she needs to have an intimate understanding of every single instrument in terms of its capabilities and limitations. Despite the conductor’s “hands off” approach during a performance, any competent conductor has spent hundreds of hours practicing and playing. Going to school for conducting allows you the time and space to practice in a musician’s role with a conductor’s mindset. Joining a school also gives you access to the kinds of conducting practice and opportunities essential to establishing yourself as a conductor.

What Should I Have Accomplished Before Applying to Conducting School?

As an applicant, you should already have a basic or intermediate proficiency in one or more instruments. You do not need to have extensive experience in conducting, but you do need to possess an interest in studying the fundamentals of conducting, including music history, music theory, and music literature. One essential quality of any conducting applicant is an interest in becoming an expert collaborator. Collaborative experience may make your application stand out because it indicates that you have the ability to carry forth this important practice.

What Do Conducting Majors Learn?

Conducting students learn the literature of music. If you conduct one piece by a composer, it’s important to know that piece’s role within the larger body of his or her work. You’ll learn about musical movements and trends, the social significance of certain musical compositions within larger society, and listen to many key performances directed by the world’s most significant conductors. You’ll also learn about music theory and how individual instruments work together to make particular sounds that evoke emotion. Conducting majors learn music on a deep level. It is only when you understand the inner workings of a piece that you can figure out what it takes to make that piece soar. You’ll also become acquainted with the key skills of conducting—what cues and gestures you need to achieve the sound you desire.

What Does a Conducting Program Entail?

A conducting program begins with music fundamentals like music theory, music history, music literature, and music technology. Conducting majors are well-rounded musicians because they need a wide set of skills to understand all the dynamics of an ensemble’s performance. You’ll also learn gestural techniques used by all conductors. Practicing these gestures for many hours allows them to become second nature to you. Conducting is a kind of dance, and like a dancer, you need to go over basic routines many times before you can create your own routine.

Podium time is an essential piece of all conducting programs. The best programs give you plenty of opportunities for podium time as you progress. Applied learning means education through hands-on experience. All conductors need to experience applied learning if they are to identify their strengths and challenges as conductors and move towards their goals.

What Kinds of Careers Do Conducting Majors Pursue?

Orchestras need conductors, as do vocal ensembles. Many conducting majors move on to lead these kinds of groups, with more cities hosting orchestras than ever before. Some conductors work as music directors for religious communities or for community music programs. Conducting majors pursue a variety of paths, with some students entering musical doctoral programs. Many of these students end up teaching at the college level, preparing the next generation of conductors.

How Do I Find the Best Conducting School for Me?

There are plenty of conducting schools out there, but The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami is the only school that uses the exclusive Frost Method™, an inherently collaborative pedagogy that positions students for learning within a small group environment. Students exposed to The Frost Method™ have instructors who know them personally and help build their skills on-on-one. If you are interested in matriculating at a school with a supportive network of esteemed conducting mentors, The Frost School may be the choice for you.