Leading with score study: changing priorities in undergraduate conducting curricula

Brian Kaufman, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Nell Flanders, Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Music Performance Research ISSN 1755-9219
Vol. 10, 1-21
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, December 2020
The purpose of this study was to examine student learning in an introductory conducting course in which score study was the primary foundational focus; gesture was viewed as part of a larger conducting process and a secondary learning goal to score study. Research has indicated a need for greater emphasis on score study in introductory conducting courses (Silvey, Springer, & Eubanks, 2016; Stewart, 2011). Student reflection is often used to guide students in understanding the relationship of their gesture to the sound of a live ensemble; however, within the studied course, reflection was expanded to focus on the score study process – developing score study skills, practice habits, and concepts. Researchers analyzed student reflections (N = 25) in order to understand student learning and identify potential improvements to the course. Student reflections were coded using a general inductive approach. In their reflections, students discussed evaluating, revising, refining, and integrating approaches; making connections between conducting and other coursework; analyzing the conducting process; and developing their own conducting philosophy. A model that captures the students’ collective learning process is described. Focusing on score study in this introductory conducting course resulted in substantial student learning about an array of conducting skills and concepts in relation to score study. Reflection assisted students in developing a score study process and a growth mindset, both of which support future learning. Findings provide a springboard for future research that examines how a comprehensive and integrated score study process occurring over time can best contribute to the learning of beginning conducting students.
score study skills and concepts
conducting learning goals
reflective practice
developing an aural image
model for conducting process
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