Conducting a Choir: a short-lived experiment

Almost 3 years ago, Older Daughter took up the challenge of directing one of our church choirs.  Shortly after, I started singing with that choir.  It was good to get back to choral singing as I had not sung in a group since high school.

As we had a fledging choir, Older Daughter ended up having to wear many hats: Director, Conductor, Singer, Music Arranger.   Apart from singing, I thought maybe I could help out in the arena of conducting.  After all, Older Daughter made it look so easy and fun. So, I decided to take a MOOC  (Massive Open Online Course) on the subject through Coursera, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It was great fun and I enjoyed the 25 hours of watching the videos and working through the assignments.  In order to practice what I was learning, Older Daughter gave me the opportunity to work with the choir during practice sessions and actually conduct some of the songs during Mass.

The first time I conducted at Mass remains a complete blur.  The second was nerve-wrecking as I was somewhat aware that there were people depending on me set the pace, cue them in & keep time.  The third I was better able to watch myself and the reaction I got from the choir. That was when I realised this was not a process I enjoyed.

Firstly, it was difficult for me to use my left & right hands to communicate different ideas: my hands insisted on mirroring each other (read: death knell for a conductor!).  Secondly, I found it difficult to communicate musical ideas to the choir in order to help them sing more coherently and to set a certain mood.  Finally, I realised that I simply enjoyed singing more than I enjoyed conducting.

So, while I was grateful for the opportunity for the learning through the MOOC, and the hands-0n work with the choir, I think I will stick with singing.


Photo taken from the Choir Pit of the Church of St Ignatius, Singapore, in view of the Conductor’s Stand during a moment of quiet before Mass began.



2 Replies to “Conducting a Choir: a short-lived experiment”

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