(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Confession time

I've got a confession to make. I'm scared to make it, in case those who I'm hiding this thing from find out. Anyway, back to the confession...

I... err... well, y'see, I... enjoy conducting.

[A brief pause for you to go "OK... so... huh?"]

Y'see, it is a bit of a confession. I shy away from being the centre of attention, from being in the limelight. I'm frightened to talk to people some days for fear of revealing my inner most thoughts by mistake and being whisked off to be locked up. Yet I have this weird enjoyment from conducting. Standing in front of groups, waving my arms about, dissecting the bits that don't work, finding out why the whole piece always falls to pieces at three bars before rehearsal mark C, making the group aware of what should happen and how to get them there.

Sitting in the second desk of 'cellos, as I do in orchestra, I have this anonymity. No-one really cares if I'm there or not, I'm just part of the "string" sound, I don't get solos (which, considering I am a orchestral cellist more than any other type of cellist, is a very good thing), I add to the 'cello sound and that is that.
[To explain the term 'orchestral cellist': I started playing 'cello as there was no other cellist in the school. 6 weeks after I started playing, I was in rehearsals for The Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn sitting alongside a professional cellist. The next term, I was found sitting alongside a professional cellist again, this time doing bits of Wagner's Meistersinger. My learning was done in a orchestral setting, at an incredibly accelerated pace. I can play solo pieces, but I tend to murder them. Put me into a group, and I am suddenly able to play in a way I can't outside of the group setting. Even if I'm the only person on the part inside the group. 'Tis odd, but I'm an orchestral/group cellist.]

Back to conducting. I love it. Enjoy it. I enjoy standing in front of a group of people with their eyes on me, and with an audience inevitably looking at my backside. I am self-conscious of people staring at me walking down the street, yet I enjoy being the focal point for the musical experience of a group with a conductor. It doesn't matter, as long as the music is there. A bit like performing I suppose, I'll sit at a piano in front of maybe 300 people, and because the music is there, it is okay.

I'm clearing up my room, and have just made sure I've put the conducting baton as far from my orchestra bag as possible - if the distinctive baton shape was seen in my bag at an orchestra rehearsal, I'd end up at the front in no time at all.

It is a confession, because many groups want conductors. Or assistant conductors. I'm assistant conductor of a band - I was volunteered for the post (it wasn't quite volunteering, more volunteered...) and I really enjoy it. I don't really conduct much in my other musical roles as I generally direct choirs from the organ/piano whilst playing.
It is a confession, because I'm the type to often work quietly in the background, to hide away from the big "tadaaaa I'm here, look at me, look at me, *jazz hands*" roles if I can. Even in my bright coloured clothing, I'm still in a place when I quite like not to be the centre of attention.
It is a confession, but I like conducting. There I've said it. And spent nearly 600 words talking about it.

*goes back to hiding under a rock in a state of anonymity and out-of-the-way-ness for a bit*


  1. Hi Hannah I think it is just lovely that you so enjoy conducting. yipeedoodledoo!

    Well done for sharing this. Thank you.

  2. :) You've made me smile, thanks.

  3. Makes perfect sense to me. I'm also quite shy and self-conscious, but I love standing in front of a group and teaching - I think for me it's about having a clearly defined role to play, that gives me a chance to come out of my shell while still having a safe role to hide behind...?

    Fortunately the choir I'm in was in desperate need of a conductor a year ago, but now has a fabulous one, so there'll be no need to drag you up here and force you to conduct. ;)

  4. Yes, Res, that is exactly it. The clearly defined role feels safe. Like when I'm teaching, my role is set out - well, the role I have made for myself as a teacher [each teacher I reckon teaches in different ways with different quirks and processes and ways to go about things, so I've made a role for *me* in the classroom].

    Glad your choir found a conductor. :)