How to Become a Music Conductor

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Conducting is using visible gestures to direct a musical performance. Music conductors are trained professionals that plan, direct, conduct, and lead a variety of vocal and instrumental performances.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a music conductor do?

Music directors typically conduct choirs, orchestras, concert bands, glee clubs, and many different other musical ensembles. They audition and choose musicians, select the appropriate music, plan programs, and lead rehearsals and performances. They set the tempo and implement clear beats and preparations. They also listen in a critical manner to provide feedback and help improve the sound of the ensemble. Conductors often use batons and a variety of hand movements to lead ensembles. They also maintain eye contact and show many different facial expressions.

What kind of training does a music conductor need?

Music conductors typically need some type of formal education or training in music. Many have degrees in a music related field and others have completed many years of training under an experienced musician. Music conductors must have a solid understanding of all musical aspects such as dynamics, tempo, and phrasing. They often complete courses in music interpretation, music theory, conducting, instrument performance, and voice performance. Many conductors have started their careers playing a variety of different musical instruments. They must have a solid understanding of how to play all instruments in an orchestra. Some prospective music conductors complete internships or shadow experienced conductors to gain practical experience in the field. Music conductors often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers to update their knowledge and skills and stay up to date with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a music conductor?

Employment of music conductors is projected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 8% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increased demand for a variety of musical ensembles will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Music conductors with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace music conductors that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do music conductors make?

As of January 2010, the average annual salary for music conductors is $39,000; average annual music conductor salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a music conductor is a great choice for people with a strong interest in music and leading a variety of voice and instrumental ensembles. Music conductors must have a solid understanding of many different musical styles and musical instruments. Patience, good listening skills, organization, and flexibility are essential characteristics. Music conductors must be able to successfully lead group by providing clear and precise gestures and hand movements. They must be able to inspire motivation and confidence and provide constructive criticism. They must also have excellent stage presence and good communication skills.

Joshua T Osborne

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