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Module WXP-3308:

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Chris Collins

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to equip students with the essential skills required for conducting choral and instrumental ensembles. It addresses the technical skills involved, in addition to skills relating to rehearsing, rehearsal-planning, and other administrative functions.

Students on this module acquire practical experience of conducting choirs and orchestras. In addition, the technique of other conductors is analysed, and issues relating to performance practice and repertoire choice are considered. The module also addresses issues surrounding intellectual property and financial matters (such as contracts for hiring music and soloists). It prepares students for direct experience of conducting, working with both professional and amateur musicians (including children and musicians who do not read musical notation).

Course content

Technical skills: 1. Beat patterns 2. Posture, position and eye contact 3. Cueing 4. Starting and stopping 5. Conductor as accompanist (working with soloists) 6. Using a baton 7. Conducting unmeasured and aleatoric music

Practical skills: 1. Rehearsal planning 2. Score preparation 3. Choral warm-ups 4. Obtaining scores and parts 5. Contracting and working with professional musicians 6. Working with amateurs

Students will gain direct experience of conducting a choir and an instrumental group in workshops during the course of the module.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

C– to C+: The student will demonstrate solid leadership of the choir or ensemble, will rehearse effectively and assuredly, and will be able to conduct an accurate performance. In their analysis of technique and interpretation, they will demonstrate reasonable skills of critical thinking.


A– to A**: The student will demonstrate complete command of the choir or ensemble, will rehearse economically and constructively, and will be able to conduct an original and distinctive performance. In their analysis of technique and interpretation, they will demonstrate insight and originality in their skills of critical thinking.


D– to D+: The student will demonstrate satisfactory leadership of the choir or ensemble, will rehearse adequately, and will be able to hold a performance together. In their analysis of technique and interpretation, they will demonstrate satisfactory skills of critical thinking.


B– to B+: The student will demonstrate strong leadership of the choir or ensemble, will rehearse purposefully, and will be able to conduct an accurate and convincing performance. In their analysis of technique and interpretation, they will demonstrate very strong skills of critical thinking.

Learning outcomes

  1. On completion of this module, the student should be able to conduct a choir or instrumental group effectively and assuredly.

  2. On completion of this module, the student should be able to demonstrate command of advanced conducting skills.

  3. On completion of this module, the student should be able to demonstrate and apply an understanding of rehearsal techniques, and evaluate their appropriateness for different scenarios.

  4. On completion of this module, the student should be able to communicate ideas convincingly.

  5. On completion of this module, the student should be able to demonstrate advanced skills of critical thinking in relation to musical repertoire, their own conducting technique, and that of others.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Coursework 2 (rehearsal plan and score preparation)

Students are required to plan two series of rehearsals, each one in preparation for a hypothetical concert performance, one involving only amateurs and the other involving only professionals. In addition, they must produced prepared scores of each piece, annotated for use in each performance scenario.

EXAM Conducting exam

Students must conduct a short piece of music of their own choice. The piece chosen must include one of the following: an instrumental or vocal soloist; unmeasured writing; frequent metrical or tempo changes; aleatoric material. They will have 15 minutes to rehearse the work, and will then conduct a performance of it.

COURSEWORK Coursework 1 (critique)

Students are required to write a critique of the conducting style and technique of a professional conductor of their choice, with detailed reference to video evidence.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


11 workshops, weekly, 3 hours each.

Private study

Private practice, directed study, and research for assessed tasks.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Re-creative skills – interpretation, innovation, versatility, and other skills relating to performance
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)


Resource implications for students

There are no necessary resource implications for students, though they wish to purchase their own baton. The School has a limited number that can be borrowed.

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: