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Title: Essentials in Conducting
Author: Gehrkens, Karl Wilson, 1882-1975
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Copyright MCMXIX_
_International Copyright Secured_

To the Memory of


for many years






CHAPTER I--Introduction                                               1

CHAPTER II--Personal Traits Necessary in Conducting                   8

CHAPTER III--The Technique of the Baton                              20

CHAPTER IV--Interpretation in Conducting--_Introductory_             36

CHAPTER V--Interpretation in Conducting--_Tempo_                     46

CHAPTER VI--Interpretation in Conducting--_Dynamics_                 57

CHAPTER VII--Interpretation in Conducting--_Timbre, Phrasing, etc._  64

CHAPTER VIII--The Supervisor of Music as Conductor                   76

CHAPTER IX--The Community Chorus Conductor                           85

CHAPTER X--The Orchestral Conductor                                  93

CHAPTER XI--Directing the Church Choir                              108

CHAPTER XII--The Boy Choir and its Problems                         118

CHAPTER XIII--The Conductor as Voice Trainer                        131

CHAPTER XIV--The Art of Program Making                              140

CHAPTER XV--Conductor and Accompanist                               147

CHAPTER XVI--Efficiency in the Rehearsal                            152

APPENDIX A--Reference List                                          164

APPENDIX B--Score of second movement of Haydn's Symphony, No. 3     166

INDEX                                                               181


In putting out this little book, the author is well aware of the fact
that many musicians feel that conductors, like poets and teachers, are
"born and not made"; but his experience in training supervisors of
music has led him to feel that, although only the elementary phases of
_conducting_ can be taught, such instruction is nevertheless quite
worth while, and is often surprisingly effective in its results. He
has also come to believe that even the musical genius may profit by
the experience of others and may thus be enabled to do effective work
as a conductor more quickly than if he relied wholly upon his native

The book is of course planned especially with the amateur in view, and
the author, in writing it, has had in mind his own fruitless search
for information upon the subject of conducting when he was just
beginning his career as a teacher; and he has tried to say to the
amateur of today those things that he himself so sorely needed to know
at that time, and had to find out by blundering experience.

It should perhaps be stated that although the writer has himself had
considerable experience in conducting, the material here presented is
rather the result of observing and analyzing the work of others than
an account of his own methods. In preparation for his task, the author
has observed many of the better-known conductors in this country, both
in rehearsal and in public performance, during a period of some twelve
years, and the book represents an attempt to put into simple language
and practical form the ideas gathered from this observation. It is
hoped that as a result of reading these pages the amateur may not only
have become more fully informed concerning those practical phases of
conducting about which he has probably been seeking light, but may be
inspired to further reading and additional music study in preparation
for the larger aspects of the work.

The writer wishes to acknowledge the material assistance rendered him
by Professor John Ross Frampton, of the Iowa State Teachers College,
and Professor Osbourne McConathy, of Northwestern University, both of
whom have read the book in manuscript and have given invaluable
suggestions. He wishes also to acknowledge his very large debt to
Professor George Dickinson, of Vassar College, who has read the
material both in manuscript and in proof, and to whose pointed
comments and criticisms many improvements both in material and in
arrangement are due.


  _June, 1918_

_Essentials in Conducting_



[Sidenote: DEFINITION]

The word "conducting" as used in a musical sense now ordinarily refers
to the activities of an orchestra or chorus leader who stands before a
group of performers and gives his entire time and effort to directing
their playing or singing, to the end that a musically effective
ensemble performance may result.

This is accomplished by means of certain conventional movements of a
slender stick called a _baton_ (usually held in the right hand), as
well as through such changes of facial expression, bodily posture, _et
cetera_, as will convey to the singers or players the conductor's
wishes concerning the rendition of the music.

Conducting in this sense involves the responsibility of having the
music performed at the correct tempo, with appropriate dynamic
effects, with precise attacks and releases, and in a fitting spirit.
This in turn implies that many details have been worked out in
rehearsal, these including such items as making certain that all
performers sing or play the correct tones in the correct rhythm;
insisting upon accurate pronunciation and skilful enunciation of the
words in vocal music; indicating logical and musical phrasing;
correcting mistakes in breathing or bowing; and, in general,
stimulating orchestra or chorus to produce a tasteful rendition of
the music as well as an absolutely perfect _ensemble_ with all parts
in correct proportion and perfect balance.

In order to have his directing at the public performance function
properly, it thus becomes the conductor's task to plan and to
administer the rehearsals in such a way that the performers may become
thoroughly familiar with the music, both in technique and in spirit.
In other words, the conductor must play the part of musical manager as
well as that of artistic inspirer, and if he does not perform his task
in such fashion as to be looked up to by the members of his chorus or
orchestra as the real leader, and if he himself does not feel
confident of being able to do his work better than any one else upon
the ground, he cannot possibly be successful in any very high degree.
A conductor must first of all be a strong leader, and failing in this,
no amount of musical ability or anything else will enable him to
conduct well. We shall have more to say upon this point in a later


Conducting of one kind or another has undoubtedly been practised for
many centuries, but directing by gestures of the hand has not been
traced farther back than the fourteenth century, at which time
Heinrich von Meissen, a Minnesinger, is represented in an old
manuscript directing a group of musicians with stick in hand. In the
fifteenth century the leader of the Sistine Choir at Rome directed the
singers with a roll of paper (called a "sol-fa"), held in his hand. By
the latter part of the seventeenth century it had become customary for
the conductor to sit at the harpsichord or organ, filling in the
harmonies from a "figured bass," and giving any needed signals with
one hand or the head as best he could. Conducting during this period
signified merely keeping the performers together; that is, the chief
function of the conductor was that of "time beater." With the advent
of the conductor in the rôle of interpreter, such directing became
obsolete, and from the early nineteenth century, and particularly as
the result of the impetus given the art by the conducting of
Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Liszt, and Wagner, the conductor has become an
exceedingly important functionary, in these modern days even ranking
with the _prima donna_ in operatic performances! It is now the
conductor's aim not merely to see that a composition is played
correctly and with good ensemble; more than that, the leader of today
gives his own version or _reading_ of the composition just as the
pianist or violinist does. Instead of being a mere "time beater" he
has become an interpreter, and (except in the case of the
organist-director of a choir) he attempts to do nothing except so to
manipulate his musical forces as to secure an effective performance.


The conductor works largely through the instrumentality of
_instinctive imitation_; that is, his methods are founded upon the
fact that human beings have an innate tendency to copy the actions of
others, often without being conscious that they are doing so. Thus, if
one person yawns or coughs, a second person observing him has an
instinctive tendency to do likewise. One member of a group is radiant
with happiness, and very soon the others catch the infection and are
smiling also; a singer at a public performance strains to get a high
tone, and instinctively our faces pucker up and our throat muscles
become tense, in sympathetic but entirely unconscious imitation. In
very much the same way in conducting, the leader sets the tempo,--and
is imitated by the musicians under him; he feels a certain emotional
thrill in response to the composer's message,--and arouses a similar
thrill in the performers; lifts his shoulders as though taking
breath,--and causes the singers to phrase properly, often without
either the conductor or the singers being aware of how the direction
was conveyed. It is at least partly because we instinctively imitate
the mental state or the emotional attitude of the pianist or the
vocalist that we are capable of being thrilled or calmed by musical
performances, and it is largely for this reason that an audience
always insists upon _seeing_ the artist as well as hearing him. In the
same way the musicians in a chorus or orchestra must see the conductor
and catch from him by instinctive imitation his attitude toward the
music being performed. This point will be more fully discussed in a
later chapter, when we take up interpretation in conducting.


In setting out to become a conductor it will be well for the young
musician to recognize at the outset that by far the larger part of the
conductor's work rests upon an art basis, and that only a
comparatively small portion of it is science; hence he must not expect
to find complete information concerning his future work in any
treatise upon the subject. It is one thing to state that there are
three primary colors, or that orange is the result of mixing red and
yellow, but it is a very different matter to give directions for
painting an effective landscape, or a true-to-life portrait. One thing
involves _science_ only, but the other is concerned primarily with
_art_, and it is always dangerous to dogmatize concerning matters
artistic. To carry the illustration one step farther, we may say that
it is comparatively easy to teach a pupil to strike certain piano keys
in such a way as to produce the correct melody, harmony, and rhythm of
a certain composition; but who would venture, even in these days of
frenzied advertising, to promise that in so many lessons he could
teach a pupil to play it as a Hofmann or a Paderewski would? Here
again we see clearly the contrast between science and art, matters of
science being always susceptible of organization into a body of
principles and laws _which will work in every case_, while art is
intangible, subtle, and ever-varying.

The application of our illustration to conducting should now be clear.
We may teach a beginner how to wield a baton according to conventional
practice, how to secure firm attacks and prompt releases, and possibly
a few other definitely established facts about conducting; but unless
our would-be leader has musical feeling within him and musicianship
back of him, it will be utterly futile for him to peruse these pages
further, or to make any other kind of an attempt to learn to conduct;
for, as stated above, only a very small part of conducting can be
codified into rules, directions, and formulæ, by far the larger part
of our task being based upon each individual's own innate musical
feeling, and upon the general musical training that he has undergone.
All this may be discouraging, but on the other hand, granting a fair
degree of native musical ability, coupled with a large amount of solid
music study, any one possessing a sense of leadership can, after a
reasonable amount of intelligent practice, learn to handle a chorus or
even an orchestra in a fairly satisfactory manner. It is our purpose
in general to treat the scientific rather than the artistic side of
conducting, and we are taking for granted, therefore, that the reader
is endowed with musical feeling at least in a fair degree, and has
acquired the rudiments of musical scholarship as the result of an
extensive study of piano, organ, singing, ear-training, music history,
harmony, _et cetera_, and especially by attentive listening to a very
large amount of good music with score in hand. As a result of
combining such musical ability with a careful reading of these pages
and with a large amount of practice in actually wielding the baton, it
is hoped that the beginner will arrive at his goal somewhat earlier
than he would if he depended entirely upon what the psychologist calls
the "trial-and-error" method of learning.


The musical amateur who is ambitious to conduct should therefore study
music in all its phases, and if in doubt as to his talent, he should
submit to a vocational test in order to determine whether his native
musical endowment is sufficient to make it worth his while to study
the art seriously. If the result of the test is encouraging, showing a
good ear, a strong rhythmic reaction, and a considerable amount of
what might be termed native musical taste, let him practise his piano
energetically and intelligently, and especially let him learn to read
three and four voices on separate staffs (as in a vocal score) in
order to prepare himself for future reading of full scores. Let him
study harmony, counterpoint, form, and, if possible, composition and
orchestration. Let him work indefatigably at ear-training, and
particularly at harmonic ear training, so that notes and tones may
become closely associated in his mind, the printed page then giving
him auditory rather than merely visual imagery; in other words, let
him school himself to make the printed page convey to his mind the
actual sounds of the music. Let him study the history of music, not
only as a record of the work of individual composers, but as an
account of what has transpired in the various periods or epochs of
musical art, so that he may become intelligent concerning the ideals,
the styles, and the forms of these various periods. And finally, let
him hear all the good music he possibly can, listening to it from the
threefold standpoint of sense, emotion, and intellect, and noting
particularly those matters connected with expression and
interpretation in these renditions. In as many cases as possible let
him study the scores of the compositions beforehand, comparing then
his own ideas of interpretation with those of the performer or
conductor, and formulating reasons for any differences of opinion that
may become manifest.

Let the young musician also form the habit of reading widely, not
only along all musical lines (history, biography, theory, esthetics,
_et cetera_), but upon a wide variety of topics, such as painting and
the other arts, history, literature, sociology, pedagogy, _et cetera_.
As the result of such study and such reading, a type of musical
scholarship will be attained which will give the conductor an
authority in his interpretations and criticisms that cannot possibly
be achieved in any other way. Let us hasten to admit at once that the
acquiring of this sort of scholarship will take a long time, and that
it cannot all be done before beginning to conduct. But in the course
of several years of broad and intelligent study a beginning at least
can be made, and later on, as the result of continuous growth while at
work, a fine, solid, comprehensive scholarship may finally eventuate.




In the introductory chapter it was noted that the conductor must build
upon a foundation of musical scholarship if he is to be really
successful; that he must possess musical feeling; and that he must go
through extensive musical training, if he is to conduct with taste and
authority. But in addition to these purely _musical_ requirements,
experience and observation have demonstrated that the would-be
conductor must be possessed of certain definitely established personal
characteristics, and that many a musician who has been amply able to
pass muster from a musical standpoint, has failed as a conductor
because he lacked these other traits.

It is not my purpose to give at this point an exhaustive list of
qualities that must form the personal equipment of the conductor. In
general it will be sufficient to state that he must possess in a fair
degree those personal traits that are advantageous in any profession.
But of these desirable qualities three or four seem to be so
indispensable that it has been thought best to devote a brief chapter
to a discussion of them. These qualities are:

     1. A sense of humor.
     2. A creative imagination.
     3. A sense of leadership combined with organizing ability.

[Sidenote: A SENSE OF HUMOR]

The first of these traits, a sense of humor, may perhaps upon first
thought seem a peculiar quality to include in a category of virtues
for the professional man of any type, and especially for the musician.
But upon reflection it will be admitted that the ability to see
things in a humorous light (which very frequently means merely seeing
them in true perspective) has helped many a man to avoid wasting
nervous energy upon insignificant occurrences, while the lack of this
ability has caused more trouble among all sorts of people (and
particularly, it seems to me, among musicians) than any other single


Some player or singer is either over-arduous or a bit sleepy during
the first stages of rehearsing a new composition, and makes a wrong
entrance, perhaps during a pause just before the climacteric point.
The occurrence is really funny and the other performers are inclined
to smile or snicker, but our serious conductor quells the outbreak
with a scowl. The humorous leader, on the other hand, sees the
occurrence as the performers do, joins in the laugh that is raised at
the expense of the offender, and the rehearsal goes on with renewed

An instrumental performer makes a bad tone, and the conductor laughs
at him, saying it sounds like a wolf howling or an ass braying. If the
remark is accompanied by a smile, the performer straightens up and
tries to overcome the fault; but if the comment is made with a snarl
there is a tightening up of muscles, an increased tension of the
nerves, and the performer is more than likely to do worse the next

There is a difference of opinion between the conductor and some
performer about fingering or bowing, phrasing or interpretation, and a
quarrel seems imminent; but the conductor refuses to take the matter
too seriously, and, having ample authority for his own viewpoint,
proceeds as he has begun, later on talking it over with the performer,
and perhaps giving him a reason for his opinion.

Humor is thus seen to have the same effect upon a body of musicians as
oil applied to machinery, and musical machinery seems to need more of
this kind of lubrication than almost any other variety.

But the conductor must distinguish carefully between sarcastic wit,
which laughs _at_, and humor, which laughs _with_. In a book bearing
the copyright date of 1849, the writer distinguishes between the two,
in the following words:[1]

     Humor originally meant moisture, a signification it
     metaphorically retains, for it is the very juice of the
     mind, enriching and fertilizing where it falls. Wit laughs
     at; humor laughs with. Wit lashes external appearances, or
     cunningly exchanges single foibles into character; humor
     glides into the heart of its object, looks lovingly upon the
     infirmities it attacks, and represents the whole man. Wit is
     abrupt, scornful ...; humor is slow and shy, insinuating its
     fun into your heart.

[Footnote 1: Whipple, _Literature and Life_, p. 91.]


The conductor with a sense of humor will ordinarily have the advantage
also of being cheerful in his attitude toward the performers, and this
is an asset of no mean significance. It is a well-known psychophysical
fact that the human body does much better work when the mind is free
from care, and that in any profession or vocation, other things being
equal, the worker who is cheerful and optimistic will perform his
labor much more efficiently at the expense of considerably less mental
and bodily energy than he who is ill-humored, worried, fretful, and
unable to take a joke. But the _foreman_ who possesses this quality of
cheerfulness and humor is doubly fortunate, for he not only secures
the beneficial results in his own case, but by his attitude frequently
arouses the same desirable state of mind and body in those who are
working under him. It is particularly because of this latter fact that
the conductor needs to cultivate a cheerful, even a humorous outlook,
especially in the rehearsal. As the result of forming this habit, he
will be enabled to give directions in such a way that they will be
obeyed cheerfully (and consequently more effectively); he will find it
possible to rehearse longer with less fatigue both to himself and to
his musical forces; and he will be able to digest his food and to
sleep soundly after the rehearsal because he is not worrying over
trivial annoyances that, after all, should have been dismissed with a
laugh as soon as they appeared. There must not of course be so much
levity that the effectiveness of the rehearsal will be endangered, but
there is not much likelihood that this will happen; whereas there
seems to be considerable danger that our rehearsals will become too
cold and formal. A writer on the psychology of laughter states that
"laughter is man's best friend";[2] and in another place (p. 342) says
that the smile always brings to the mind "relaxation from strain."

[Footnote 2: Sully, _An Essay on Laughter_.]


Creative imagination is an inborn quality--"a gift of the gods"--and
if the individual does not possess it, very little can be done for him
in the artistic realm. Constructive or creative imagination implies
the ability to combine known elements in new ways--_to use the mind
forwards_, as it were. The possession of this trait makes it possible
to picture to oneself how things are going to look or sound or feel
before any actual sense experience has taken place; to see into
people's minds and often find out in advance how they are going to
react to a projected situation; to combine chemical elements in new
ways and thus create new substances; to plan details of organization
in a manufacturing establishment or in an educational institution, and
to be able to forecast how these things are going to work out.

It is this quality of creative imagination that enables the inventor
to project his mind into the future and see a continent spanned by
railways and telephones, and the barrier of an ocean broken down by
means of wireless and aeroplane; and in every case the inventor works
with old and well-known materials, being merely enabled by the power
of his creative faculties (as they are erroneously called) to combine
these known materials in new ways.

In the case of the musician, such creative imagination has always been
recognized as a _sine qua non_ of original composition, but its
necessity has not always been so clearly felt in the case of the
performer. Upon analyzing the situation it becomes evident, however,
that the performer cannot possibly get from the composer his real
message unless he can follow him in his imagination, and thus
re-create the work. As for adding anything original to what the
composer has given, this is plainly out of the question unless the
interpreter is endowed somewhat extensively with creative imagination;
and the possession of this quality will enable him to introduce such
subtle variations from a cut-and-dried, merely _accurate_ rendition as
will make his performance seem really spontaneous, and will inevitably
arouse a more enthusiastic emotional response in the listeners.

Weingartner sums up the value of imagination in the final paragraph of
one of the few really valuable books on conducting at our disposal.[3]

     More and more I have come to think that what decides the
     worth of conducting is the degree of suggestive power that
     the conductor can exercise over the performers. At the
     rehearsals he is mostly nothing more than a workman, who
     schools the men under him so conscientiously and precisely
     that each of them knows his place and what he has to do
     there; he first becomes an artist when the moment comes for
     the production of the work. Not even the most assiduous
     rehearsing, so necessary a prerequisite as this is, can so
     stimulate the capacities of the players as the force of
     imagination of the conductor. It is not the transference of
     his personal will, but the mysterious act of creation that
     called the work itself into being takes place again in him,
     and transcending the narrow limits of reproduction, he
     becomes a new-creator, a self-creator.

[Footnote 3: Weingartner, _On Conducting_, translated by Ernest
Newman, p. 56.]

This quality is indispensable to all musicians, be they creators or
performers, but is especially desirable in the conductor, for he needs
it not only from the standpoint of interpretation, as already noted,
but from that of manager or organizer. Upon this latter point we shall
have more to say later, but it may be well to state just here that if
the conductor could imagine what was going on in the minds of his
players or singers, and could see things from their viewpoint; if he
could forecast the effect of his explanatory directions or of his
disciplinary rulings, nine-tenths of all the quarreling, bickering,
and general dissatisfaction that so frequently mar the work of any
musical organization could easily be eliminated. We might also add
that if the conductor could only foresee the effect upon his audiences
of certain works, or of certain interpretations, his plans would
probably often be materially altered.


But the conductor must be more than a humorous-minded and imaginative
musician. He must also (especially in these modern times) be an
organizer, a business man, a leader. The qualities of leadership and
organizing ability are so closely connected that we shall for the most
part treat them together in our discussion, and they are so important
that a fairly extensive analysis will be attempted.

In an article on Schumann in _Grove's Dictionary_ Dr. Philip Spitta,
the well-known historian and critic, comments upon the conducting of
this famous composer as follows:[4]

     Schumann was sadly wanting in the real talent for
     conducting. All who ever saw him conduct or played under his
     direction are agreed on this point. Irrespective of the fact
     that conducting for any length of time tired him out, he had
     neither the collectedness and prompt presence of mind, nor
     the sympathetic faculty, nor the enterprising dash, without
     each of which conducting in the true sense is impossible.
     He even found difficulty in starting at a given tempo; nay,
     he even sometimes shrank from giving any initial beat, so
     that some energetic pioneer would begin without waiting for
     the signal, and without incurring Schumann's wrath! Besides
     this, any thorough practice, bit by bit, with his orchestra,
     with instructive remarks by the way as to the mode of
     execution, was impossible to this great artist, who in this
     respect was a striking contrast to Mendelssohn. He would
     have a piece played through, and if it did not answer to his
     wishes, have it repeated. If it went no better the second or
     perhaps third time, he would be extremely angry at what he
     considered the clumsiness, or even the ill-will of the
     players; but detailed remarks he never made.

[Footnote 4: _Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians_, New Edition,
Vol. IV, p. 363.]

This estimate of Schumann's work as a conductor demonstrates
unmistakably that he failed in this particular field, not because his
musical scholarship was not adequate, but because he did not have that
peculiar ability which enables one man to dominate others: _viz._, _a
sense of leadership_, or _personal magnetism_, as it is often called.
Seidl asserts[5] that Berlioz, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns likewise
failed as conductors, in spite of recognized musicianship; and it is
of course well known that even Beethoven and Brahms could not conduct
their own works as well as some of their contemporaries whose names
are now almost forgotten.

[Footnote 5: Seidl, _The Music of the Modern World_, Vol. I, p. 106.]

The feeling that one has the power to cause others to do one's will
seems in most cases to be inborn, at least certain children display it
at a very early age; and it is usually the boys and girls who decide
on the playground what games shall be played next, or what mischief
shall now be entered upon, who later on become leaders in their
several fields of activity. And yet this sense of leadership, or
something closely approximating it, may also be acquired, at least to
a certain extent, by almost any one who makes a consistent and
intelligent attempt in this direction. It is this latter fact which
may encourage those of us who are not naturally as gifted along these
lines as we should like to be, and it is because of this possibility
of acquiring what in conducting amounts to an indispensable
qualification that an attempt is here made to analyze the thing called
leadership into its elements.


The primary basis upon which a sense of leadership rests is
undoubtedly confidence in one's general ability and in one's knowledge
of the particular subject being handled. The leader must not only know
but must know that he knows. This makes quick judgments possible, and
the leader and organizer must always be capable of making such
judgments, and of doing it with finality. The baseball player must
decide instantly whether to throw the ball to "first," "second,"
"third," or "home," and he must repeatedly make such decisions
correctly before he can become a strong and respected baseball
captain. The same thing holds true of the foreman in a factory, and
both baseball captain and factory foreman must not only know every
detail of the work done under them, but must _know that they know it_,
and must feel confident of being able to cause those working under
them to carry it on as they conceive it. So the conductor must not
only know music, but must have confidence in his ear, in his rhythmic
precision, in his taste, in his judgment of tempo, in short, in his
musical scholarship; and he must not only feel that he knows exactly
what should be done in any given situation, but be confident that he
can make his chorus or orchestra do it as he wishes. Think for
instance of securing a firm attack on the first tone of such a song as
the _Marseillaise_. It is an extremely difficult thing to do, and it
would be utterly impossible to direct any one else exactly how to
accomplish it; and yet, if the conductor knows exactly how it must
sound, if he has an auditory image of it before the actual tones
begin, and if he feels that when he begins to beat time the chorus
will sing as he has heard them in imagination, then the expected
result is almost certain to follow. But if he is uncertain or
hesitant upon any of these points, he will as surely fail to get a
good attack.

Such confidence in one's own ability as we have been describing
usually results in the acquiring of what is called an easy
manner,--self-possession,--in short, _poise_, and it is the possession
of such a bearing that gives us confidence in the scholarship and
ability of the leaders in any type of activity. But the influence of
this type of manner cannot be permanent unless it rests upon a
foundation of really solid knowledge or ability.


The second element included in leadership and organizing ability is
the power to make oneself understood, that is, clearness of speech and
of expression. This involves probably first of all, so far as
conducting is concerned, a voice that can be easily heard, even in a
fairly large room, and that carries with it the tone of authority. But
it includes also a good command of language so that one's ideas may be
expressed clearly, and one's commands given definitely. An important
point to be noted in this connection is that the conductor must be
able to exercise rigid self-control, so as not to become incoherent
under stress of anger, emergencies, or other excitement.


The final element involved in leadership is a tremendous love of and
respect for the thing that is being done. Napoleon became a great
general because of his confidence in his own ability, and because of
his very great enthusiasm for his work. Lincoln became one of the
greatest statesmen of all times largely because of his earnestness,
his extraordinary love and respect for the common people, and his
unfaltering confidence in the justice of the cause for which the North
was contending. Pestalozzi could never have become one of the world's
most influential teachers if he had not felt that the thing he was
trying to do was a big thing, a vital thing in the life of his
country, and if he had not had a real love in his heart for his work
among the ragged and untrained urchins whom he gathered about him.

And for the same reason it is clear that no one can become a strong
and forceful conductor who does not have an overwhelming love of music
in his heart. We may go farther and say that no conductor can give a
really spirited reading of a musical composition if he does not feel
genuinely enthusiastic over the work being performed, and that one
reason for the sluggish response that musicians often make to the
conductor's baton is the mediocrity of the music which they are being
asked to perform. The conductor is not in sympathy with it (sometimes
without realizing this himself), and there is consequently no virility
in the playing or singing. The remedy for this state of affairs
consists, first, in allowing only those who have some taste in the
selection of music to conduct; and second, in inspiring all conductors
to take much more time and much greater pains in deciding upon the
works to be rehearsed. In directing a choir one may examine a dozen
cantatas, or twenty-five anthems, before one is found that is really
distinctive. If one stops at the second or third, and thinks that
although not very good yet it is possibly good enough, very probably
the choir will be found to be sluggish and unresponsive, filled with
what Coward calls "inertia."[6] But if one goes on looking over more
and more selections until something really distinctive is discovered,
it is more than probable that the chorus will respond with energy and

[Footnote 6: Coward, _Choral Technique and Interpretation_, p. 73.]

We have heard many arguments in favor of teaching children only the
best music, and here is yet another, perhaps more potent than all the
rest. They must be taught only good music because you as a musician
will find it impossible to become enthusiastic over mediocre or poor
works; and if you do not yourself glow over the music that you are
directing, you will hardly succeed in arousing the children's
interest, for enthusiasm spreads by contagion, and there can be no
spreading by contact unless we have a point from which to start.

A sense of leadership consists, then, of a combination of
self-confidence and poise, clearness of speech and expression, and
enthusiasm for one's work; and if with these three there is mingled
the ability to think clearly and definitely, we have a combination
that is bound to produce distinctive results, no matter what the field
of activity may be. Let us repeat that the encouraging thing about the
whole matter is the fact that most of the things involved in
leadership can be _acquired_, at least to a certain degree, if
persistent efforts are made for a long enough time.

Before going on with the topic to be treated in the next chapter, let
us summarize the materials out of which our conductor is to be
fashioned. They are:

     1. Innate musical ability.
     2. A long period of broad and intelligent music study.
     3. An attractive and engaging personality.
     4. A sense of humor.
     5. A creative imagination.
     6. Conscious leadership and organizing ability.

Some of these qualities are admittedly almost diametrically opposed to
one another, and it is probably because so few individuals combine
such apparently opposite traits that such a small number of musicians
succeed as conductors, and so few organizers and business men succeed
as musicians. But in spite of this difficulty, we must insist again
that any really tangible and permanent success in conducting involves
a combination of these attributes, and that the conductor of the
future, even more than of the past, must possess not only those
qualities of the artist needed by the solo performer, but must in
addition be a good business manager, an organizer, a tactician, a
diplomat, a task-master--in plain English, a good _boss_. It is
primarily because of the lack of these last-mentioned qualities that
most musicians fail as conductors. A writer in the _Canadian Journal
of Music_, signing himself Varasdin, sums it up well in the following

     He who wishes to "carry away" his body of players as well as
     his audience, the former to a unanimously acted
     improvisation, the latter to a unanimously felt emotion,
     needs above all "commanding personal magnetism," and
     everything else must be subordinate to that.

     He must be "very much alive"--(highly accumulated vital
     energy, always ready to discharge, is the secret of all
     personal magnetism)--and the alertness, the presence of
     mind, the acute and immediate perception of everything going
     on during rehearsal or performance, the dominancy and
     impressiveness of his minutest gesture, the absolute
     self-possession and repose even in working up the most
     exciting climaxes and in effecting the most sudden
     contrasts--all these are simply self-evident corollaries
     from our first and foremost requirement.




Before giving actual directions for the manipulation of the
conductor's baton, it may be well to state that the stick itself
should be light in weight, light in color, and from sixteen to twenty
inches long. It must be thin and flexible, and should taper gradually
from the end held in the hand to the point. Batons of this kind can be
manufactured easily at any ordinary planing mill where there is a
lathe. The kinds sold at stores are usually altogether too thick and
too heavy. If at any time some adulating chorus or choir should
present the conductor with an ebony baton with silver mountings, he
must not feel that courtesy demands that it should be used in
conducting. The proper thing to do with such an instrument is to tie a
ribbon around one end and hang it on the wall as a decoration.


A word about the music desk may also be in order at this time. It
should be made of wood or heavy metal so that in conducting one need
not constantly feel that it is likely to be knocked over. The ordinary
folding music stand made of light metal is altogether unsuitable for a
conductor's use. A good substantial stand with a metal base and
standard and wood top can be purchased for from three to five dollars
from any dealer in musical instruments. If no money is available and
the stand is constructed at home, it may be well to note that the base
should be heavy, the upright about three and a half feet high, and
the top or desk about fourteen by twenty inches. This top should tilt
only slightly, so that the conductor may glance from it to his
performers without too much change of focus. Our reason for mentioning
apparently trivial matters of this kind is to guard against any
possible distraction of the conductor's mind by unimportant things. If
these details are well provided for in advance, he will be able while
conducting to give his entire attention to the real work in hand.


The baton is ordinarily held between the thumb and first, second and
third fingers, but the conductor's grasp upon it varies with the
emotional quality of the music. Thus in a dainty _pianissimo_ passage,
it is often held very lightly between the thumb and the first two
fingers, while in a _fortissimo_ one it is grasped tightly in the
closed fist, the tension of the muscles being symbolic of the
excitement expressed in the music at that point. All muscles must be
relaxed unless a contraction occurs because of the conductor's
response to emotional tension in the music. The wrist should be loose
and flexible, and the entire beat so full of grace that the attention
of the audience is never for an instant distracted from listening to
the music by the conspicuous awkwardness of the conductor's hand
movements. This grace in baton-manipulation need not interfere in any
way with the definiteness or precision of the beat. In fact an easy,
graceful beat usually results in a firmer rhythmic response than a
jerky, awkward one. For the first beat of the measure the entire arm
(upper as well as lower) moves vigorously downward, but for the
remaining beats the movement is mostly confined to the elbow and
wrist. In the case of a divided beat (see pages 23 and 24) the
movement comes almost entirely from the wrist.


The hand manipulating the baton must always be held sufficiently high
so as to be easily seen by all performers, the elbow being kept well
away from the body, almost level with the shoulder. The elevation of
the baton, of course, depends upon the size of the group being
conducted, upon the manner in which the performers are arranged, and
upon whether they are sitting or standing. The conductor will
accordingly vary its position according to the exigencies of the
occasion, always remembering that a beat that cannot be easily seen
will not be readily followed.


If one observes the work of a number of conductors, it soon becomes
evident that, although at first they appear to have absolutely
different methods, there are nevertheless certain fundamental
underlying principles in accordance with which each beats time, and it
is these general principles that we are to deal with in the remainder
of this chapter. It should be noted that _principles_ rather than
_methods_ are to be discussed, since principles are universal, while
methods are individual and usually only local in their application.


The general direction of the baton movements now in universal use is
shown in the following figures.


In actual practice however, the baton moves from point to point in a
very much more complex fashion, and in order to aid the learner still
further in his analysis of time beating an elaborated version of the
foregoing figures is supplied. It is of course understood that such
diagrams are of value only in giving a general idea of these more
complex movements and that they are not to be followed minutely.

[Illustration: TWO-BEAT MEASURE]

[Illustration: THREE-BEAT MEASURE]

[Illustration: FOUR-BEAT MEASURE]

[Illustration: SIX-BEAT MEASURE]






An examination of these figures will show that all baton movements are
based upon four general principles:

     1. The strongest pulse of a measure (the first one) is
     always marked by a down-beat. This principle is merely a
     specific application of the general fact that a downward
     stroke is stronger than an upward one (_cf._ driving a

     2. The last pulse of a measure is always marked by an
     up-beat, since it is generally the weakest part of the

     3. In three- and four-beat measures, the beats are so
     planned that there is never any danger of the hands
     colliding in conducting vigorous movements that call for the
     use of the free hand as well as the one holding the baton.

     4. In compound measures the secondary accent is marked by a
     beat almost as strong as that given the primary accent.


The fact that a composition is in 4-4 measure does not necessarily
mean that every measure is to be directed by being given four actual
beats, and one of the things that the conductor must learn is when to
give more beats and when fewer.

If the tempo is very rapid, the 4-4 measure will probably be given
only two beats, but in an _adagio_ movement, as, _e.g._, the first
part of the _Messiah_ overture, it may be necessary to beat eight for
each measure in order to insure rhythmic continuity. There are many
examples of triple measure in which the movement is so rapid as to
make it impracticable to beat three in a measure, and the conductor is
therefore content merely to give a down-beat at the beginning of each
measure; waltzes are commonly conducted by giving a down-beat for the
first measure, an up-beat for the second, _et cetera_; a six-part
measure in rapid tempo receives but two beats; while 9-8 and 12-8 are
ordinarily given but three and four beats respectively.

It is not only annoying but absolutely fatiguing to see a conductor go
through all manner of contortions in trying to give a separate beat to
each pulse of the measure in rapid tempos; and the effect upon the
performers is even worse than upon the audience, for a stronger
rhythmic reaction will always be stimulated if the rhythm is felt in
larger units rather than in smaller ones. But on the other hand, the
tempo is sometimes so very slow that no sense of continuity can be
aroused by giving only one beat for each pulse; hence, as already
noted, it is often best to give _double_ the number of beats indicated
by the measure sign. In general, these two ideas may be summarized in
the following rule: _As the tempo becomes more rapid, decrease the
number of beats; but as it becomes slower, increase the number, at the
same time elaborating the beat so as to express more tangibly the idea
of a steady forward movement._

By carefully studying the second series of figures given on pages 23
and 24 and by making certain that the principle of "continuous
movement" explained on page 28 is observed, the student will be able
to learn the more highly elaborated beats employed in slower tempos
without very much difficulty. These diagrams, like the first set, are,
of course, intended to be suggestive only.


In this same connection, the amateur may perhaps raise the question as
to whether it is wise to beat the rhythm or the pulse in such a
measure as [music notation]. In other words, is it well to give a
down-beat on 1, two small beats toward the left for 2, while 3 and 4
are treated in the ordinary way? This question may be answered by
referring to the rule given on page 25, but perhaps it will be safer
to make the application more specific by advising the young conductor
to adhere fairly closely to beating the pulse unless a much slower
tempo makes extra beats necessary. The additional movements may be of
some service in certain cases, but in general they tend to confuse
rather than to clarify, this being especially true in the case of
syncopated rhythms. The only exceptions to this principle are:

     1. When a phrase begins with a tone that is on a fractional
     part of the beat; _e.g._, if the preceding phrase ends with
     an eighth, thus: [music notation]; for in this case the
     phrasing cannot be indicated clearly without dividing the

     2. When there is a _ritardando_ and it becomes necessary to
     give a larger number of beats in order to show just how much
     slower the tempo is to be. The second point is of course
     covered by the general rule already referred to.

The conductor must train himself to change instantly from two beats in
the measure to four or six; from one to three, _et cetera_, so that he
may be able at any time to suit the number of beats to the character
of the music at that particular point. This is particularly necessary
in places where a _ritardando_ makes it desirable from the standpoint
of the performers to have a larger number of beats.


Although covered in general by the preceding discussion, it may
perhaps be well to state specifically that the compound measures 6-8,
9-8, and 12-8 are ordinarily taken as duple, triple, and quadruple
measures, respectively. In other words, the dotted-quarter-note
([dotted quarter-note symbol]) is thought of as the beat note, some
modern editors going so far as to write [2 over dotted quarter symbol]
in place of 6-8 as the measure sign; [3 over dotted quarter symbol] in
place of 9-8; and [4 over dotted quarter symbol] in place of 12-8. In
conducting these various types of measure, the general principle given
on page 25 again applies, and if the tempo is very slow, the conductor
beats 6, 9, or 12, to the measure, but if it is rapid, the flow of the
rhythm is much better indicated by 2, 3, and 4 beats respectively.


Although only occasionally encountered by the amateur, five- and
seven-beat measures are now made use of frequently enough by composers
to make some explanation of their treatment appropriate. A five-beat
measure (quintuple) is a compound measure comprising a two-beat and a
three-beat one. Sometimes the two-beat group is first, and sometimes
the three-beat one. If the former, then the conductor's beat will be
down-up, down-right-up. But if it is the other way about, then the
beat will naturally be down-right-up, down-up. "But how am I to know
which comes first?" asks the tyro. And our answer is, "Study the
music, and if you cannot find out in this way, you ought not to be
conducting the composition."

Just as quintuple measure is a compound measure comprising two
pulse-groups, one of three and the other of two beats, so seven-beat
measure (septuple) consists of a four-beat group plus a three-beat
one. If the four-beat measure is first, the conductor's beat will be
down-left-right-up, down-right-up; _i.e._, the regular movements for
quadruple measure followed by those for triple; but if the combination
is three plus four, it will be the other way about. Sometimes the
composer helps the conductor by placing a dotted bar between the two
parts of the septuple measure, thus: [music notation]


The most fundamental principle of time beating, and the one concerning
which the young conductor is apt to be most ignorant, is the
following: _The baton must not usually come to a standstill at the
points marking the beats, neither must it move in a straight line from
one point to another, except in the case of the down beat; for it is
the free and varying movement of the baton between any two beats that
gives the singers or players their cue as to where the second of the
two is to come._ We may go further and say that the preliminary
movement made before the baton arrives at what might be termed the
"bottom" of the beat is actually more important than the "bottom" of
the beat itself. When the baton is brought down for the first beat of
the measure, the muscles contract until the imaginary point which the
baton is to strike has been reached, relaxing while the hand moves on
to the next point (_i.e._, the second beat) gradually contracting
again as this point is reached, and relaxing immediately afterward as
the hand moves on to the third beat. In the diagrams of baton
movements given on preceding pages, the accumulating force of muscular
contraction is shown by the gradually increasing thickness of the
line, proceeding from the initial part of the stroke to its
culmination; while the light curved line immediately following this
culmination indicates the so-called "back-stroke," the muscular
relaxation. It is easy to see that this muscular contraction is what
gives the beat its definiteness, its "bottom," while the relaxation is
what gives the effect of continuity or flow. It will be noticed that
when the baton is brought down on an accented beat, the beginning of
the back-stroke is felt by the conductor as a sort of "rebound" of the
baton from the bottom of the beat, and this sensation of rebounding
helps greatly in giving "point" to these accented beats.

In order to understand fully the principle that we have just been
discussing, it must be recalled that rhythm is not a succession of
jerks, but is basically a steady flow, a regular succession of similar
impulses, the word _rhythm_ itself coming from a Greek stem meaning
"flow." Like all other good things, this theory of continuous movement
may be carried to excess, and one occasionally sees conducting that
has so much "back-stroke" that there is no definiteness of beat
whatsoever; in other words there is no "bottom" to the beat, and
consequently no precision in the conducting. But on the other hand,
there is to be observed also a great deal of conducting in which the
beats seem to be thought of as imaginary points, the conductor
apparently feeling that it is his business to get from one to another
of these points in as straight a line as possible, and with no
relaxation of muscle whatever. Such conductors often imagine that they
are being very definite and very precise indeed in their directing,
and have sometimes been heard to remark that the singers or players
whom they were leading seemed exceedingly stupid about following the
beat, especially in the attacks. The real reason for sluggish rhythmic
response and poor attacks is, however, more often to be laid at the
door of a poorly executed beat by the conductor than to the stupidity
of the chorus or orchestra.[7]

[Footnote 7: It is but a step from the conclusions arrived at above to
a corollary relating to conducting from the organ bench. How does it
happen that most choirs directed by an organist-conductor do not
attack promptly, do not follow tempo changes readily, and do not in
general present examples of good ensemble performance? Is it not
because the organist is using his hands and feet for other purposes,
and cannot therefore indicate to his singers the "continuous flow of
rhythm" above referred to? When a conductor directing with a baton
wishes to indicate a _ritardando_, he does so not merely by making the
beats follow one another at longer intervals, but even more by making
a more elaborate and more extensive movement between the beat
culminations; and the musicians have no difficulty in following the
baton, because it is kept continuously in motion, the points where the
muscular contractions come being easily felt by the performers,
because they can thus follow the rhythm in their own muscles by
instinctive imitation. But when the organist-conductor wishes a
_ritardando_, he merely plays more slowly, and the singers must get
their idea of the slower tempo entirely through the ear. Since rhythm
is a matter of muscle rather than of ear, it will be readily
understood that conducting and organ-playing will never go hand in
hand to any very great extent. There is, of course, another reason for
the failure of many organists who try to play and conduct
simultaneously, _viz._, that they are not able to do two things
successfully at the same time, so that the chorus is often left to
work out its own salvation as best it may; while, if the conducting is
done by using the left hand, the organ end of the combination is not
usually managed with any degree of distinction. Because of this and
certain other well-known reasons, the writer believes that choral
music in general, and church music in particular, would be greatly
benefited by a widespread return to the mixed chorus, led by a
conductor with baton in hand, and accompanied by an organist.]


Coordinate with the discussion of continuous movement and back-stroke,
the following principle should be noted: _A preliminary movement
sufficiently ample to be easily followed by the eye must be made
before actually giving the beat upon which the singers or players are
to begin the tone, if the attack is to be delivered with precision and
confidence._ Thus in the case of a composition beginning upon the
first beat of a measure, the conductor holds the baton poised in full
view of all performers, then, before actually bringing it down for the
attack, he raises it slightly, this upward movement often
corresponding to the back-stroke between an imaginary preceding beat
and the actual beat with which the composition begins. When a
composition begins upon the weak beat (_e.g._, the fourth beat of a
four-pulse measure), the preceding strong beat itself, together with
the back-stroke accompanying it, is often given as the preparation for
the actual initial beat. In case this is done the conductor must guard
against making this preliminary strong beat so prominent as to cause
the performers to mistake it for the actual signal to begin. If the
first phrase begins with an eighth-note ([music notation]), give a
short beat for 4 and an extra up-beat for the first note of the
phrase. If it begins with a sixteenth-note, do the same thing, but
make the extra up-beat with which the first tone is to be coincident
shorter and quicker. If a good attack cannot be secured in any other
way, beat an entire preliminary measure until the attack goes well,
then adopt some such plan as has just been suggested.

[Sidenote: THE RELEASE]

The preliminary up-beat which has just been discussed is equally
valuable as a preparation for the "release" or "cut-off." The movement
for the release is usually a down stroke to right or left, or even
upward. It is customary not to beat out the final measure of a
composition or a complete final section of a composition, but to
bring the baton down a few inches for the first beat of the measure,
and then to hold it poised in this position, either counting the beats
mentally, or trusting to feeling to determine the time for stopping. A
slight upward movement is then made just before the tone is to be
released, and it is the warning conveyed by this preliminary movement
that enables the performers to release the tone at the precise instant
when the baton is brought down for the cut-off. It should be noted
that the release must come at the _end_ of the duration value of the
final note. In 4-4 a final [dotted half-note symbol] would therefore
be held up to the _beginning_ of the fourth beat, _i.e._, until one is
on the point of counting _four_; a final [whole note symbol], until
the beginning of the first beat of the following measure. It is
because of carelessness or ignorance on this point that composers now
sometimes resort to such devices as [music notation] to show that the
final tone has four full beats. In such a case, the ending [music
notation] means exactly the same thing as [music notation], the tone
being released precisely on _one_ of the following measure, in either

[Sidenote: THE HOLD]

In the case of a hold (_fermata_), the movement for the cut-off
depends upon the nature of what follows. If the tone to be prolonged
forms the end of a phrase or section, the baton is brought down
vigorously as at the end of a composition; but if the hold occurs at
the end of a phrase in such a way as not to form a decided closing
point, or if it occurs in the midst of the phrase itself, the cut-off
is not nearly so pronounced, and the conductor must exercise care to
move his baton in such a direction as to insure its being ready to
give a clear signal for the attack of the tone following the hold.
Thus, with a hold on the third beat, [music notation] the cut-off
would probably be toward the right and upward, this movement then
serving also as a preliminary for the fourth beat to follow.


For working in rehearsal it is convenient to use some such exclamation
as "Ready--Sing," or "Ready--Play," in order that amateur musicians
may be enabled to attack the first chord promptly, even in reading new
music. In this case the word "Ready" comes just before the preliminary
movement; the word "Sing" or "Play" being coincident with the actual
preliminary movement. In preparing for a public performance, however,
the conductor should be careful not to use these words so much in
rehearsing that his musicians will have difficulty in making their
attacks without hearing them.


The length and general character of the baton movement depend upon the
emotional quality of the music being conducted. A bright, snappy
_Scherzo_ in rapid tempo will demand a short, vigorous beat, with
almost no elaboration of back-stroke; while for a slow and stately
_Choral_, a long, flowing beat with a highly-elaborated back-stroke
will be appropriate. The first beat of the phrase in any kind of music
is usually longer and more prominent, in order that the various
divisions of the design may be clearly marked. It is in the length of
the stroke that the greatest diversity in time beating will occur in
the case of various individual conductors, and it is neither possible
nor advisable to give specific directions to the amateur. Suffice it
to say, that if he understands clearly the foregoing principles of
handling the baton, and if his musical feeling is genuine, there will
be little difficulty at this point.


The directions for beating time thus far given have, of course,
referred exclusively to what is termed "measured music," _i.e._, music
in which the rhythm consists of groups of regularly spaced beats, the
size and general characteristics of the group depending upon the
number and position of the accents in each measure. There exists,
however, a certain amount of non-measured vocal music, and a word
concerning the most common varieties (recitative and Anglican chant)
will perhaps be in order before closing our discussion of beating

[Sidenote: RECITATIVE]

In conducting the accompaniment of a vocal solo of the recitative
style, and particularly that variety referred to as _recitativo
secco_, the most important baton movement is a down-beat after each
bar. The conductor usually follows the soloist through the group of
words found between two bars with the conventional baton movements,
but this does not imply regularly spaced pulses as in the case of
measured music, and the beats do not correspond in any way to those of
the ordinary measure of rhythmic music. They merely enable the
accompanying players to tell at approximately what point in the
measure the singer is at any given time, the up-beat at the end of the
group giving warning of the near approach of the next group.


In the case of the Anglican chant, it should be noted that there are
two parts to each verse: one, a reciting portion in which there is no
measured rhythm; the other, a rhythmic portion in which the pulses
occur as in measured music. In the reciting portion of the chant, the
rhythm is that of ordinary prose speech, punctuation marks being
observed as in conventional language reading. This makes it far more
difficult to keep the singers together, and in order to secure
uniformity, some conductors give a slight movement of the baton for
each syllable; others depend upon a down-beat at the beginning of each
measure together with the lip movements made by the conductor himself
and followed minutely by the chorus.

The beginning of the second part of the chant is indicated by printing
its first syllable in italics, by placing an accent mark over it, or
by some other similar device. This syllable is then regarded as the
first accented tone of the metrical division of the chant, and,
beginning with it, the conductor beats time as in ordinary measured
music. If no other syllable follows the accented one before a bar
occurs, it is understood that the accented syllable is to be held for
two beats, _i.e._, a measure's duration. Final _ed_ is always
pronounced as a separate syllable.

The most important thing for an amateur to learn about conducting the
Anglican chant is that before he can successfully direct others in
singing this type of choral music, he must himself practically
memorize each chant. The amateur should perhaps also be warned not to
have the words of the first part of the chant recited too rapidly. All
too frequently there is so much hurrying that only a few of the most
prominent words are distinguishable, most of the connecting words
being entirely lost. A more deliberate style of chanting than that in
ordinary use would be much more in keeping with the idea of dignified
worship. Before asking the choir to sing a new chant, it is often well
to have the members _recite_ it, thus emphasizing the fact that the
meaning of the text must be brought out in the singing. In
inaugurating chanting in churches where this form of music has not
previously formed a part of the service, it will be well to have both
choir and congregation sing the melody in unison for a considerable
period before attempting to chant in parts.


Now that we have laid down the principles upon the basis of which our
prospective conductor is to beat time, let us warn him once more that
here, as in other things, it is intelligent practice that makes
perfect, and that if he is to learn to handle the baton successfully,
and particularly if he is to learn to do it so well that he need never
give the slightest thought to his baton while actually conducting,
hours of practice in beating time will be necessary. This practising
should sometimes take place before a mirror, or better still, in the
presence of some critical friend, so that a graceful rather than a
grotesque style of handling the baton may result; it should also be
done with the metronome clicking or with some one playing the piano
much of the time, in order that the habit of maintaining an absolutely
steady, even tempo may evolve. The phonograph may also be utilized for
this purpose, and may well become an indispensable factor in training
conductors in the future, it being possible in this way to study the
elements of interpretation as well as to practise beating time.


It must not be imagined that if one is fortunate enough to acquire the
style of handling the baton which we have been advocating one will at
once achieve success as a conductor. The factors of musical
scholarship, personal magnetism, _et cetera_, mentioned in preceding
pages, must still constitute the real foundation of conducting. But
granting the presence of these other factors of endowment and
preparation, one may often achieve a higher degree of success if one
has developed also a well-defined and easily-followed beat. It is for
this reason that the technique of time beating is worthy of some
degree of serious investigation and of a reasonable amount of time
spent in practice upon it.





Interpretation from the standpoint of the conductor differs from
interpretation in singing and playing in that the conductor must
necessarily convey ideas or emotions to his audience through an
intermediary, _viz._, the orchestra or chorus. He furthermore labors
under the disadvantage of having to stand with his back (certainly the
least expressive part of man's physique) to the audience. The pianist,
singer, and violinist, on the other hand, face their audiences; and
because they themselves actually do the performing, are able to work
much more directly upon the minds and emotions of their hearers. For
this reason, interpretation must be studied by the conductor from a
twofold basis:

     1. From the standpoint of the expressive rendition of music
     in general.

     2. From the standpoint of securing the expressive rendition
     of music from a group of players or singers.

We shall devote this and the three following chapters to a discussion
of these two phases of interpretation.


The word _interpret_, as ordinarily used means "to explain,"--"to
elucidate,"--"to make clear the meaning of," and this same definition
of the word applies to music as well, the conductor or performer
"making clear" to the audience the message given him by the composer.
It should be noted at once, however, that interpretation in music is
merely the process or means for securing the larger thing called
_expression_, and in discussing this larger thing, the activity of two
persons is always assumed; one is the composer, the other the
performer. Which of these two is the more important personage has been
for many decades a much mooted question among concert-goers.
Considered from an intellectual standpoint, there is no doubt whatever
concerning the supremacy of the composer; but when viewed in the light
of actual box office experience, on an evening when Caruso or some
other popular idol has been slated to appear, and cannot do so because
of indisposition, it would seem as if the performer were still as far
above the composer as he was in the days of eighteenth-century opera
in Italy.

It is the composer's function to write music of such a character that
when well performed it will occasion an emotional reaction on the part
of performer and listener. Granting this type of music, it is the
function of the performer or conductor to so interpret the music that
an appropriate emotional reaction will actually ensue. A recent writer
calls the performer a _messenger_ from the composer to the audience,
and states[8] that--

     As a messenger is accountable to both sender and recipient
     of his message, so is the interpretative artist in a
     position of twofold trust and, therefore, of _twofold
     responsibility_. The sender of his message--creative
     genius--is behind him; before him sits an expectant and
     confiding audience, the sovereign addressee. The
     interpretative artist has, therefore, first to enter into
     the _spirit_ of his message; to penetrate its ultimate
     meaning; to read in, as well as between, the lines. And then
     he has to train and develop his faculties of delivery, of
     vital production, to such a degree as to enable him to fix
     his message decisively, and with no danger of being
     misunderstood, in the mind of his auditor.

[Footnote 8: Constantin von Sternberg, _Ethics and Esthetics of Piano
Playing_, p. 10.]

This conception of the conductor's task demands from him two things:

     1. A careful, painstaking study of the work to be performed,
     so as to become thoroughly familiar with its content and to
     discover its true emotional significance.

     2. Such display of emotion in his conducting as will arouse
     a sympathetic response, first on the part of orchestra and
     chorus, and then in turn in the audience.


Real interpretation, then, requires, on the part of the conductor,
just as in the case of the actor, a display of emotion. Coldness and
self-restraint will not suffice, for these represent merely the
intellectual aspect of the art, and music is primarily a language of
the emotions. This difference constitutes the dividing line between
performances that merely arouse our judicial comment "That was
exceedingly well done"; and those on the other hand that thrill us,
carry us off our feet, sweep us altogether out of our environment so
that for the moment we forget where we are, lose sight temporarily of
our petty cares and grievances, and are permitted to live for a little
while in an altogether different world--the world not of things and
ambitions and cares, but of ecstasy. Such performances and such an
attitude on the part of the listener are all too rare in these days of
smug intellectualism and hypersophistication, and we venture to assert
that this is at least partly due to the fact that many present-day
conductors are intellectual rather than emotional in their attitude.

It is this faculty of displaying emotion, of entirely submerging
himself in the work being performed, that gives the veteran choral
conductor Tomlins his phenomenal hold on chorus and audience. In a
performance of choral works recently directed by this conductor, the
listener was made to feel at one moment the joy of springtime, with
roses blooming and lovers wooing, as a light, tuneful chorus in waltz
movement was being performed; then in a trice, one was whisked over to
the heart of Russia, and made to see, as though they were actually
present, a gang of boatmen as they toiled along the bank of the Volga
with the tow-rope over their shoulders, tugging away at a barge which
moved slowly up from the distance, past a clump of trees, and then
gradually disappeared around a bend in the river; and in yet another
moment, one was thrilled through and through with religious fervor in
response to the grandeur and majestic stateliness of the Mendelssohn
Motet, _Judge Me, oh God_.

It was interpretation of this type too that gave the actor-singer
Wüllner such a tremendous hold upon his audiences a few years ago,
this artist achieving a veritable triumph by the tremendous sincerity
and vividness of his dramatic impersonations in singing German
_Lieder_, in spite of the fact that he possessed a voice of only
average quality.

It was an emotional response of this character that the Greek
philosophers must have been thinking of when they characterized drama
as a "purge for the soul"; and surely it must still be good for human
beings to forget themselves occasionally and to become merged in this
fashion in the wave of emotion felt by performer and fellow-listener
in response to the message of the composer.

It is emotion of this type also that the great composers have sought
to arouse through their noblest compositions. Handel is said to have
replied, when congratulated upon the excellence of the entertainment
afforded by the _Messiah_, "I am sorry if I have only entertained
them; I hoped to do them good." An English writer, in quoting this
incident, adds:[9]

     What Handel tried to do ... by wedding fine music to an
     inspiring text, Beethoven succeeded in doing through
     instruments alone ... for never have instruments--no matter
     how pleasing they were in the past--been capable of stirring
     the inmost feelings as they have done since the beginning of
     the nineteenth century.

[Footnote 9: C.F.A. Williams, _The Rhythm of Modern Music_, p. 13.]

There is danger, of course, here as everywhere, that one may go too
far; and it is entirely conceivable that both soloist and conductor
might go to such extremes in their display of emotion that the music
would be entirely distorted, losing what is after all its main _raison
d'être_, _viz._, the element of beauty. But there seems at present to
be no especial danger that such an event will occur; the tendency
seems rather to be toward overemphasizing intellectualism in music,
and toward turning our art into a science.[10] The thing that we
should like to convince the prospective conductor of is that real
interpretation--_i.e._, genuinely expressive musical performance--demands
an actual display of emotion on the part of the conductor if the ideal
sort of reaction is to be aroused in the audience.

[Footnote 10: This danger is especially insidious just now in our
college and high school courses in the _appreciation of music_.
Instructors in such courses are often so zealous in causing pupils to
understand the _machinery_ involved in the construction and rendition
of music that they sometimes forget to emphasize sufficiently the
product resulting from all this machinery, _viz._, _beauty_. The idea
of these courses is most excellent, and in time those in charge of
them will doubtless realize that the hearing of actual music in the
classroom is more valuable to students than learning a mass of facts
about it; and that if a choice were necessary between a course in
which there was opportunity for hearing a great deal of music without
any comment, and one on the other hand in which there was a great deal
of comment without any music, the former would be infinitely
preferable. But such a choice is not necessary; and the ideal course
in the Appreciation of Music is one in which the student has
opportunity for hearing a great deal of music with appropriate
comments by the instructor.]

In order to interpret a musical work, then, the conductor himself must
first study it so as to discover what the composer intended to
express. Having become thoroughly permeated with the composer's
message, he may then by instinctive imitation arouse in his chorus or
orchestra so strong a reflection of this mood that they will perform
the work in the correct spirit, the audience in turn catching its
essential significance, and each listener in his own way responding to
the composer's message.


Musical interpretation consists thus in impressing upon the listener
the essential character of the music by emphasizing the important
elements and subordinating the unimportant ones; by indicating in a
clear-cut and unmistakable way the phrasing, and through skilful
phrasing making evident the design of the composition as a whole; and
in general by so manipulating one's musical forces that the hearer
will not only continue to be interested in the performance, but will
feel or understand the basic significance of the work being performed;
will catch and remember the important things in it, will not have his
attention distracted by comparatively unimportant details, and will
thus have delivered to him the real spirit of the composer's message.
This implies skilful accentuation of melody, subordination of
accompaniment, increasing the tempo or force in some portions,
decreasing them in others, _et cetera_. Clear enunciation and forceful
declamation in choral music are also included, and in it all, the
performer or conductor must so subordinate his own personality that
the attention of the listeners will be centered upon the composition
and not upon the eccentricities of dress or manner of the artist.


It is inevitable that there should be considerable difference of
opinion among composers, critics, listeners, and performers, as to
just what music may or may not legitimately be expected to express.
Some modern composers are apparently convinced that it ought to be
possible through music to suggest pictures, tell stories, or depict
moral and intellectual struggles on the part of the individual. Others
contend that music exists solely because of its own inherent beauty,
that it can arouse _general_ emotional states only, and that if it is
good music, it needs no further meaning than this. Even "pure music,"
the champions of this latter idea urge, may express an infinite
variety of emotional tones, from joy, encouragement, excitement,
tenderness, expectancy, invigoration, and tranquillity, to dread,
oppression of spirit, hesitation, harshness, and despondency. A modern
writer on esthetics treats this matter at length, and finally

     Is the symbolization pervasive enough to account for the
     steady continuing charm of lengthy compositions?... The
     symbolizations ... mostly resemble patches; they form no
     system, no plot or plan accompanying a work from beginning
     to end; they only guarantee a fitful enjoyment--a fragment
     here, a gleam there, but no growing organic exaltation like
     that actually afforded by musical compositions.

[Footnote 11: Gehring, _The Basis of Musical Pleasure_, p. 89.]

At another point in the same work, this writer again discusses this
same matter (page 120):

     Music is presentative in character, not representative.
     Measure, to be sure, may correspond to the beating of the
     pulse, and the final cadence may picture the satisfaction of
     desires; the coda may simulate a mental summary; but the
     composition in its totality, with its particular melodies,
     harmonies, and rhythms, and with the specific union of all
     these elements characteristic of this composition, does not
     represent any definite psychical or material fact.

The majority of us would doubtless take a middle-ground position,
admitting the beauty and power of music, _per se_, but acknowledging
also the fact that abstract beauty together with a certain amount of
suggested imagery, in combination, will usually make a stronger appeal
to the majority of people than either element by itself. Many of us
are entirely willing to grant, therefore, that a more complex and more
vividly colored emotional state will probably result if the auditor is
furnished with the title or program of the work being performed; _but
we contend nevertheless that this music, regardless of its connection
with imagery, must at the same time be sound music, and that no matter
how vividly descriptive our tonal art may become, if it cannot stand
the test of many hearings as music, entirely apart from the imagery
aroused, it is not worthy to endure_. It is not the _meaning_ of the
music which makes us want to hear it repeated, but its inherent
_beauty_; it is not usually our intellectual impression, but our
emotional thrill which we recall in thinking back over a past musical

Those of us who take the middle ground that we have just been
presenting contend also that descriptive music can only legitimately
arouse its appropriate imagery when the essential idea has been
supplied beforehand in the form of a title or program, and that even
then _the effect upon various individuals is, and may well be, quite
different_, since each one has the music thrown, as it were, upon the
screen of his own personal experience.


It will be noted that in this discussion we are constantly using the
word _expression_ from the twofold standpoint of composer and
performer, each having an indispensable part in it, and neither being
able to get along without the other. But in our treatment of
conducting, we shall need to come back again and again to the idea of
expression from the standpoint of interpretation, and in directing a
piece of music we shall now take it for granted that the composer has
said something which is worthy of being heard, and that as the
intermediary between composer and audience, we are attempting to
interpret to the latter what the former has expressed in his
composition. It should be noted in this connection that wrong
interpretation is possible in music, even as in literature. One may so
read a poem that the hearer, without being in any way to blame, will
entirely miss the point. So also may one conduct a musical work,
whether it be a child's song or a symphonic poem, in such a fashion
that neither performers nor audience gain a proper conception of what
it means.


In the case of vocal music, the key to the emotional content of the
work may almost always be found by carefully studying the words. In
preparing to conduct choral singing, master the text, therefore; read
it aloud as though declaiming to an audience; and when you come to the
performance, see that your vocalists sing the music in such a way that
the audience will be able to catch without too great effort both the
meaning of the individual words and the spirit of the text as a whole.

The great Italian tenor Caruso expressed himself forcibly upon this
point during an interview for the _Christian Science Monitor_, in
1913. In reply to the question "Where do you locate the source of
expression in singing?" he said:

     I find it in the words always. For unless I give my hearers
     what is in the text, what can I give them? If I just produce
     tone, my singing has no meaning.

"Thereupon" (continues the interviewer), "vocalizing a series of scale
passages such as are used in studio practice, Caruso commented":

     Now, when I do that, I don't say anything. I may make
     musical sounds, but I express nothing. I may even execute
     the notes with a good staccato or legato (again illustrating
     with his voice) and still, having no words to go by, I make
     no effect on my listeners.

     Look at the question in another way. Suppose I were to sing
     a line of text with a meaning in my voice that contradicted
     the idea of the words. Would not that be nonsense? It would
     be as much as though I were to say to you "This wood is
     hard," and were to say it with a soft voice. People have
     observed that I sing as though I were talking. Well, that is
     just what I mean to do.

"Singing, then" (the interviewer goes on), "as Caruso began to define
it, is a sort of exalted speech, its purpose being to illuminate the
imagery and sentiment of language. The mere music of singing he seemed
for the moment to put in a subordinate place.

"By way of further emphasizing his point, he referred to a theme in
Donizetti's _L'Elisir d'Amore_, which is used in two opposing
situations--by the soprano in a mood of joy, and by the tenor in a
mood of sorrow. He sang the measures of the soprano as though
laughing. Then he sang those of the tenor as though weeping."

     "But those two passages of melody cannot be identical,"
     objected the interviewer.

     "Oh, yes, they are," the tenor declared; and he quickly
     proved it by singing them over again with a less marked
     indication of the moods. "Here you plainly see where
     expression must start. It has to be from the words, of
     course. The performer puts in the feeling of gladness or
     sadness without regard to the notes, paying attention only
     to the text."

Expression in choral music is dependent upon the text to just as great
an extent as in the case of solo singing; and choral conductors may
well ponder upon the above words of one of the world's greatest
singers, and apply the lesson to their own problems. The average
audience is probably more interested in the _words_ of vocal music
than in anything else; and since both vocal and choral performances
are usually given before "average audiences" it behooves the conductor
to look into the minds of those before whom he is directing, and to
adapt the performance to the attitude of the listeners.






In the last chapter we discussed expression and interpretation from a
general standpoint, closing with certain comments upon the
interpretation of vocal music. But it must be admitted at once that
expression in instrumental music is a vastly more intricate matter
than in the case of vocal music; and in order to get at the subject in
any tangible way, it will be necessary for us, first, to analyze music
into its expressional elements; second, to decide which of these
elements belong exclusively to the composer and which are shared by
the interpreter; and third, to examine each of these latter elements
in turn from the standpoint of the conductor as interpreter.


There are eight elements upon which expression in instrumental music
rests. These are:

     1. Rhythm
     2. Melody
     3. Harmony
     4. Pitch registers
     5. Timbre
     6. Phrasing
     7. Tempo
     8. Dynamics

Of these, the composer is able to indicate _exactly_ the first four,
to convey his meaning fairly well in the fifth and sixth, but to give
only a relative idea of the seventh and eighth. The interpreter is
thus concerned with the first four only as it becomes necessary for
him to find out from the notation what the composer intended to
express. On the other hand, he is considerably concerned with the
fifth and sixth factors (_timbre_ and _phrasing_) and has the main
responsibility in the last two (_tempo_ and _dynamics_). This being
the case, we shall treat _tempo_ and _dynamics_ first of all, as being
the two primary factors of expression with which the conductor is


Wagner, in his famous essay on conducting, takes the rather radical
ground that everything else is dependent upon the proper selection and
management of tempo. He says:[12]

     The whole duty of the conductor is comprised in his ability
     always to indicate the right tempo. His choice of tempi will
     show whether he understands the piece or not.... The true
     tempo induces correct force and expression.

[Footnote 12: Wagner, _On Conducting_, translated by Dannreuther, p.

In another place in the same work he treats the matter further, as
follows: (p. 34)

     Obviously the proper pace of a piece of music is determined
     by the particular character of the rendering it requires.
     The question therefore comes to this: Does the sustained,
     the cantilena, predominate, or the rhythmical movement? The
     conductor should lead accordingly.

It is doubtful whether many modern conductors would entirely agree
with Wagner's statement that correct tempo always "induces correct
force and expression." Nevertheless tempo is so important that
probably no one will quarrel with us if we at least give it first
place in the order in which the elements of expression are discussed.

In modern music the composer indicates the tempos of the various
movements much more definitely than was true in earlier days, so it
would seem as if not nearly so much responsibility rested upon the
conductor; and yet there is still a wide difference of opinion among
musicians about the matter, and in many cases the conductor
substitutes his own judgment for that of the composer, assuming that
the latter either made a mistake in indicating the tempo, or else that
he had not tried the composition at the tempo preferred by the
conductor, and therefore did not realize how much more effective it
would be that way.


In the main, there are five methods upon which the conductor depends
for determining the correct tempo of a composition. These are:

     1. The metronome indication, found at the beginning of most
     modern scores.

     2. The tempo or mood expressions (_andante_, _allegro_,
     _adagio_, _et cetera_), which have been in universal use for
     two centuries or more, and which are found in practically
     all music, even when a metronome indication is also given.

     3. The swing and, in vocal music, the general spirit of the

     4. Tradition.

     5. Individual judgment of tempo as depending upon and
     resulting from the "quality" of the music.

Of these, the fifth, _viz._, individual judgment is most important,
and is the court of final resort in the case of the mature musician;
but the amateur who has had but little experience and who is therefore
without any well developed musical taste must depend largely upon his
metronome, upon his knowledge of Italian tempo terms, and upon
tradition. A brief discussion of these matters will accordingly be in
order at this time.


The metronome[13] is a sort of clock with inverted pendulum, the ticks
or clicks or which can be regulated as to rate of speed by means of a
sliding weight. When this weight is set at the point marked 64, for
example, the metronome gives sixty-four clicks per minute; when set
at 84, or 112, corresponding numbers of clicks per minute result; so
that in this way the composer is able to indicate precisely the rate
of speed of his composition by indicating the number of beats per
minute. The indication [quarter-note symbol] = 84 means that the
sliding weight is to be set at the point marked 84, the metronome then
clicking eighty-four times per minute, each of these clicks indicating
a quarter-note. But if the marking is [half-note symbol] = 64, this
means that sixty-four half-notes are to be performed in a minute,--a
tempo equal to one hundred and twenty-eight quarter-notes in the same
composition. In compound measures such as 6-8, 9-8, _et cetera_, the
tempo indication shows the number of eighth-notes per minute if the
composition is in slow tempo; but in moderate and rapid tempos the
direction is usually given by taking the dotted-quarter-note as the
beat unit, thus: [dotted quarter-note symbol] = 84. It is of course
obvious that in this case the composer is thinking of each measure as
having only two or three beats instead of six or nine.

[Footnote 13: The metronome is supposed to have been invented, or at
least perfected, by a Bavarian named Maelzel, about 1815, and for many
years the Maelzel metronome was the only one in existence. Hence the
letters M.M., still found in many scores, in connection with tempo


Many instrumental compositions (particularly the older ones) are not
provided by the composer with definite tempo directions; and in this
case the Italian tempo terms usually give at least a clue to what the
composer has in mind. These terms do not of course give us the precise
tempo, but by indicating the _mood_ of a composition they at least
help one to determine the rate of speed (_adagio_--at ease;
_allegro_--cheerful; _largo_--large, broad; _andante_--going; _et
cetera_). A comprehensive knowledge of these terms from the twofold
standpoint of definition and derivation is indispensable to the
conductor. The most common of them are therefore defined at this
point. They are given in groups in order that the student may note how
much the various terms overlap in meaning.

       _larghissimo_ (superlative of _largo_)
       _adagissimo_ (superlative of _adagio_)
       _lentissimo_ (superlative of _lento_)

       _largo_ (from Latin _largus_, meaning broad, large)
       _adagio_ (at ease)
       _lento_ (slow)

       _larghetto_ (diminutive of _largo_)
       _adagietto_ (diminutive of _adagio_)

       _andante_ (going or walking)
       _andantino_ (diminutive of _andante_ and therefore meaning
         literally "going less," but because of a misconception
         of meaning now often understood as meaning slightly
         faster than _andante_)


       _allegro_ (cheerful)
       _allegretto_ (diminutive of _allegro_; a little slower
         than _allegro_)

       _con moto_ (with motion)
       _vivo_ (lively)
       _vivace_ (vivacious)
       _presto_ (quick)
       _presto assai_ (very quick)

       _prestissimo_ (superlative of _presto_)
       _vivacissimo_ (superlative of _vivace_)
       _allegrissimo_ (superlative of _allegro_)
       _prestissimo possibile_ (hypersuperlative of _presto_)

The expressions given above are frequently used in combination with
one another, and with certain auxiliary terms, but to attempt to
define these combinations in this book would be altogether
impracticable. The conductor should however understand the
significance of the following qualifying expressions:

     _non tanto_ (not too much)
     _non troppo_ (not too much)
     _ma non tanto_ (but not too much)
     _ma non troppo_ (but not too much)

These expressions are used by the composer as a warning to the
performer not to overdo any indicated effect. Thus, _largo, ma non
troppo_ means that the composition is to be taken slowly, but not too
slowly. _Presto (ma) non troppo_, on the other hand, indicates a rapid
tempo, but not too rapid. For a fuller discussion of these matters,
see the author's text book on terminology.[14]

[Footnote 14: Gehrkens, _Music Notation and Terminology_. The A.S.
Barnes Co., New York.]

The third means of finding tempo has already been discussed, (see p.
45) and the fifth needs no further explanation; but a word should
perhaps be said to the amateur about the matter of tradition. The
young conductor must not fail to take into consideration the fact that
there has grown up, in connection with many of the classics, a well
defined idea of the tempos most appropriate to their rendition, and
that any pronounced departure from this traditional tempo is apt to
result in unfavorable criticism. Tradition is of course apt to make us
hide-bound in all sorts of ways, and yet in many respects it is a very
good thing, and before our conductor attempts to direct standard works
it will be well for him to hear them rendered by some of the better
organizations, so that he may ascertain what the traditional tempo is.
In this way he may at least avoid the accusation of ignorance which
might otherwise be made. This latter point will remind the reader of
the advice already so frequently given--_viz._, "study music and
listen to music a long time before you attempt very much conducting."


Our treatment of tempo thus far has taken cognizance of only the
generalized tempo of the movement, and we have not discussed at all
the much more difficult matter of _variation_ in tempo. The more
evident changes of this sort are indicated by the composer through
such expressions as _ritardando_, _accelerando_, _et cetera_; and it
may be well to give at this point a list of the commoner of these
terms together with their meanings. Obviously, such indications are of
two general types dealing respectively with increasing and decreasing
speed, and we shall accordingly give the definitions in two classes:


     1. A gradual acceleration
        _poco a poco animato_

     2. A definitely faster tempo at once
        _più allegro_
        _più presto_
        _più animato_
        _più mosso_
        _più tosto_
        _più stretto_
        _un poco animato_


     1. A gradual retard

     2. A definitely slower tempo at once
        _più lento_
        _meno mosso_

     3. A slower tempo combined with an increase in power
        _largando_   }
        _allargando_ } (literally, "becoming broad")

     4. A slower tempo combined with a decrease in power
        _morendo_    }
        _perdendo_   }
        _perdendosi_ } (Usually translated, "gradually dying away")
        _calando_    }
        _smorzando_  }

     (After any of the terms in the above list, a return to the
     normal tempo is indicated by such expressions as _a tempo_,
     _tempo primo_, _et cetera_.)

[Sidenote: TEMPO _NUANCES_]

But in addition to the variations in tempo more or less definitely
indicated by the composer there are (particularly in modern music)
innumerable tempo fluctuations of a much subtler nature; and since
these are now recognized as a part of really artistic choral and
orchestral interpretation, (as they have long formed an indispensable
element in expressive piano performance) a brief discussion of their
nature will be included before closing this chapter.

In some cases a variable tempo is asked for by the composer by means
of one of the following expressions:

     _tempo rubato_ (literally, "robbed time")
     _ad libitum_ (at pleasure)
     _a piacere_ (at pleasure)
     _a capriccio_ (at the caprice)
     _agitato_ (agitated)

     (The term _tempo giusto_--in exact tempo--is the opposite of
     the above expressions, and is used to indicate that the
     music is to be performed in steady tempo.)

In the majority of cases, however, the composer gives no indication
whatsoever, and the whole responsibility therefore rests upon the
performer or conductor. It is because of this latter fact that the
amateur must study these matters indefatigably. The advent of a more
elastic rhythm and tempo has undoubtedly made all musical performance
infinitely more pleasurable to the listener than it formerly was; but
unfortunately (especially since the advent of Chopin's music) there
has been a great deal of misunderstanding as to the use and meaning
of this valuable new expressional element.

_Tempo rubato_ may be compared to speaking certain words more slowly
or more rapidly in order that the essential meaning of the entire
sentence may be more strongly impressed upon the listener. It must not
however break up the continuity of the tempo; as one writer has said
"we must bend the tempo, but not break it." Another well-known author,
in treating the same point, states that[15]

     Freedom in tempo does not mean unsteadiness.... We must have
     in music the sense of equilibrium, of stability. A careless,
     spasmodic hurrying and retarding leads only to flabbiness
     and inconsequence.

[Footnote 15: Dickinson, _The Education of a Music Lover_, p. 21.]

The most common kind of _rubato_ is probably that in which the first
part of the phrase (up to the climax) is accelerated, the climacteric
tone lingered upon slightly, then the remainder of the phrase rendered
_a tempo_ or possibly slightly _ritardando_. But there are many
phrases that demand a totally different sort of treatment; _e.g._, a
_ritardando_ in the first part instead of an _accelerando_. Which is
the appropriate way of delivering any particular phrase must be
determined in every case by musical feeling.

The thing that the beginner is apt to forget at the period when his
musical feeling though sincere is yet characterized by lack of
refinement, is that these _nuances_ must always be subtle, and that
the listener ought not to have fluctuations in tempo thrust in his
face at every turn. Indeed we may say that he should hardly know that
they are present, unless he is making a definite attempt to analyze
the performance. The familiar story of Chopin's breathing toward a
candle flame and making it flicker slightly, with the remark, "That is
my rubato," then blowing it violently out and saying "This is yours,"
is quite to the point in this connection.

It is of course understood that _rubato_ is to be employed almost
exclusively in moderate or slow tempos, having little or no place in
rapid, strongly rhythmic music. It should also be remarked that the
more severe the form of the music,--the more architectonic it is--the
less variation in tempo should there be in its rendition, for in this
type of music the expression is primarily intellectual. Such
instrumental works (of which certain compositions of Bach and Mozart
are typical) must not be played sentimentally, as a modern English
writer has remarked, and yet they must be played with sentiment. The
remarks of this same author may well be quoted in closing this

     Rubato is necessary in emotional music and is an excellent
     means of picturing longing, persuading, dreaming, _et
     cetera_. That is why its use is so characteristic in
     performing the works of the romantic school and why it must
     be used with such caution in the classics. The classic must
     be clear as daylight--the structure must be evident even on
     the surface; but the romantic composition needs often to be
     played in a veiled manner in order to produce atmosphere. In
     such a case the rhythm is veiled as it were, draped in
     gauze, but the rhythmic design is there under the veil just
     the same. To express calmness, decision, _et cetera_, avoid

[Footnote 16: Matthay, _Musical Interpretation_, p. 88.]

It must now be evident to the reader that this whole matter of musical
_nuance_ is too subtle to be treated adequately in a book of this
character, and it becomes necessary for us once more to advise the
amateur to study music, both vocal and instrumental, in order that his
latent musical feeling may be developed into a ripe and adequate
musical taste.


In concluding the chapter let us emphasize the fact that the
establishing of a tempo is a matter of muscle even more than of mind,
and that before beginning to beat time the conductor should have the
tempo recorded in his muscular memory. Before rising to conduct a
composition then let him feel its tempo in the muscles of the arm and
hand wielding the baton; for if not thus felt, the work will rarely be
begun with a clearly defined rate of speed. This consideration
receives added weight when it is recalled that if the conductor does
not set the tempo, the chorus accompanist or first violinist will, and
they, not having studied the music from this standpoint, will rarely
succeed in hitting upon the correct rate of movement.






Another important factor in the expressive rendition of music is
_dynamics_, _i.e._, the relative loudness and softness of tone. The
composer is supposed to have a fairly large share in this phase of
expression, and in modern music always indicates in the score at least
the most important dynamic changes that he has in mind. But our
observation of musical performances tends to make us feel that in this
aspect, even more than in tempo changes, it is the conductor or
performer who must bear the greater responsibility, and that the
_amount_ of dynamic contrast to be employed certainly depends entirely
upon the taste of the conductor or performer.

It is safe to say that the dynamic factor is easier to control than is
the tempo, and yet in spite of this fact, there is no question but
that the rendition of most choral and orchestral music could be made
much more interesting if it could be given with a greater variety of
dynamic shading. Nor is there, in our opinion, any question but that
the changes from _forte_ to _piano_ and _vice versa_, the gradually
worked up _crescendos_, the vigorous accents on certain important
tones or chords, together with those subtler shadings often referred
to as _dynamic nuances_, may become just as important and powerful a
means of conveying emotional effects as tempo. Joy and triumph and
exuberance are of course expressed by _forte_ and _fortissimo_ effects
(the crowd at a football game does not _whisper_ its approval when its
own team has made a touch-down), but the image of a mother singing a
lullaby would demand altogether different dynamic treatment.

The _crescendo_ is one of the most powerful means of expression that
the composer has at his disposal--especially in writing for the modern
orchestra, but there seems to be a good deal of misunderstanding on
the part of amateur conductors and performers about the real meaning
of the term. _Crescendo_ does not mean _forte_; indeed Weingartner
(_op. cit._, p. 6) quotes von Bülow as remarking that _crescendo
signifies piano_,--meaning of course that a _crescendo_ usually
implies a soft beginning.

It should perhaps be noted at this point that there are two varieties
of _crescendo_; one being produced by performing succeeding tones each
more loudly than the one immediately preceding it; the other by
prolonging the same tone and increasing its power gradually as it
continues to sound. The first type is much commoner than the second,
and is indeed the one kind of _crescendo_ that is possible in piano
playing; but the second variety can be secured in the case of an organ
with swell box, the human voice, and in both string and wind
orchestral instruments. Since some of the most beautiful musical
effects may be produced by the use of this second type of crescendo,
it should be employed very much more than it is in choral and
orchestral music. The English conductor Coward takes the ground that
the swell (a combination of _crescendo_ and _diminuendo_) is the most
powerful choral effect in existence.[17]

[Footnote 17: Coward, _Choral Technique and Interpretation_, p. 112.]

When the composer wishes to build up a really tremendous climax and
sweep all before him by the intensity of the emotional excitement
generated, he frequently indicates an increase in the amount of tone,
coupled with a very gradual acceleration in tempo, all proceeding by
slow degrees, and perhaps accompanied by a rise from a low pitch
register to higher ones. If on the other hand, he wants to let down in
emotional intensity, he does the opposite of all these things. The
combination of _crescendo_ and _ritardando_ is also tremendously

In order to bring together in fairly comprehensive array the terms
that are ordinarily used by the composer to indicate various
expressional effects, a table of the most frequently encountered
dynamic expressions is here included.

     _Pianississimo_ (_ppp_) }
     _pianissimo possibile_  } (as softly as possible)

     _pianissimo_ (_pp_) (superlative of _piano_--very softly)

     _piano_ (_p_) (softly)

     _più piano_ (more softly)

     _il più piano_ (most softly)

     _piano assai_ (very softly)

     _mezzo-piano_ (_mp_) (moderately softly)

     _forte_ (_f_) (loudly)

     _fortissimo_ (_ff_) (superlative of _forte_--very loudly)

     _fortississimo_ (_fff_) (as loudly as possible)

     _più forte_ (more loudly)

     _il più forte_ (most loudly)

     _il più forte possibile_ (as loudly as possible)

     _mezzo forte_ (_mf_) (moderately loudly)

     _forte-piano_ (_fp_) (loudly followed immediately by softly)

     _forzando_ (_z_)            } (These words and signs indicate that
     _sforzando_ (_sf_ or _sfz_) } a single tone or chord is to be
     _forzato_ (_fz_)            } accented, the amount of stress
     _sforzato_ (_sf_ or _sfz_)  } depending upon the character of the
     [accent hairpin symbol] or  } passage and of the composition)
       [accent symbol]           }

     _rinforzando_ (_rinf_) } (reinforced; a definite increase in power
     _rinforzato_ (_rfz_)   } extending through a phrase or passage)

     _crescendo_ (_cresc._ or [crescendo symbol]) (gradually becoming

     _decrescendo_ (_decresc._ or }
       [decrescendo symbol])      } (gradually becoming softer)
     _diminuendo_ (_dim._ or      }
       [diminuendo symbol])       }

     _crescendo poco a poco_ (becoming louder little by little)

     _crescendo subito_ (becoming louder immediately)

     _crescendo molto_ (becoming much louder)

     _crescendo al fortissimo_ (becoming gradually louder until the
       _fortissimo_ point has been reached)

     _crescendo poi diminuendo_ } (gradually louder then
     _crescendo e diminuendo_   } gradually softer)

     _crescendo ed animando_ (gradually louder and faster)

     _diminuendo al pianissimo_ (becoming gradually softer until the
       _pianissimo_ point is reached)

     _morendo_    }
     _perdendosi_ } (gradually dying away, _i.e._, becoming slower
     _smorzando_  } and softer by very small degrees)
     _calando_    }

     _con amore_ (with tenderness)

     _con bravura_ (with boldness)

     _con energia_ (with energy)

     _con espressione_ }
     _espressivo_      } (with expression)

     _con brio_ (with brilliancy)

     _con fuoco_ (with fire)

     _con passione_ (with passion)

     _con grazia_ (with grace)

     _con tenerezza_ (with tenderness)

     _dolce_ (gently) (literally, sweetly)

     _giocoso_ (humorously) (_cf._ jocose)

     _giojoso_ (joyfully) (_cf._ joyous)

     _con maestà_ }
     _maestoso_   } (majestically)

     _pastorale_ (in pastoral, _i.e._, in simple and unaffected style)

     _pomposo_ (pompously)

     _scherzando_ }
     _scherzo_    } (jokingly)

     _sotto voce_ (with subdued voice)

We shall close our discussion of the subject of dynamics with a brief
presentation of a few practical matters with which every amateur
conductor should be familiar.

The _pianissimo_ of choruses and orchestras is seldom soft enough. The
extreme limit of soft tone is very effective in both choral and
orchestral music, and most conductors seem to have no adequate notion
of _how soft_ the tone may be made in such passages. This is
especially true of chorus music in the church service; and even the
gospel singer Sankey is said to have found that the softest rather
than the loudest singing was spiritually the most impressive.[18]

[Footnote 18: On the other hand, the criticism has been made in recent
years that certain orchestral conductors have not sufficiently taken
into consideration the size and acoustics of the auditoriums in which
they were conducting, and have made their _pianissimos_ so soft that
nothing at all could be heard in the back of the room. In order to
satisfy himself that the tone is as soft as possible, and yet that it
is audible, it will be well for the conductor to station some one of
good judgment in the back of the auditorium during the concert, this
person later reporting to the conductor in some detail the effect of
the performance.]

_Pianissimo_ singing or playing does not imply a slower tempo, and in
working with very soft passages the conductor must be constantly on
guard lest the performers begin to "drag." If the same virile and
spirited response is insisted upon in such places as is demanded in
ordinary passages, the effect will be greatly improved, and the
singing moreover will not be nearly so likely to fall from the pitch.

The most important voice from the standpoint of melody must in some
way be made to stand out above the other parts. This may be done in
two ways:

     1. By making the melody louder than the other parts.

     2. By subduing the other parts sufficiently to make the
     melody prominent by contrast.

The second method is frequently the better of the two, and should more
frequently be made use of in ensemble music than is now the case in
amateur performance.

The conductor of the Russian Symphony Orchestra, Modeste Altschuler,
remarks on this point:

     A melody runs through every piece, like a road through a
     country hillside. The art of conducting is to clear the way
     for this melody, to see that no other instruments interfere
     with those which are at the moment enunciating the theme. It
     is something like steering an automobile. When the violins,
     for instance, have the tune, I see to it that nobody hurries
     it or drags it or covers it up.

In polyphonic music containing imitative passages, the part having the
subject must be louder than the rest, especially at its first
entrance. This is of course merely a corollary of the general
proposition explained under number three, above.

In vocal music the accent and crescendo marks provided by the composer
are often intended merely to indicate the proper pronunciation of some
part of the text. Often, too, they assist in the declamation of the
text by indicating the climax of the phrase, _i.e._, the point of
greatest emphasis.

The dynamic directions provided by the composer are intended to
indicate only the broader and more obvious effects, and it will be
necessary for the performer to introduce many changes not indicated in
the score. Professor Edward Dickinson, in referring to this matter in
connection with piano playing, remarks:[19]

     After all, it is only the broader, more general scheme of
     light and shade that is furnished by the composer; the finer
     gradations, those subtle and immeasurable modifications of
     dynamic value which make a composition a palpitating,
     coruscating thing of beauty, are wholly under the player's

[Footnote 19: Dickinson, _The Education of a Music Lover_, p. 123.]

In concluding our discussion of dynamics, let us emphasize again the
fact that all expression signs are relative, never absolute, and that
_piano_, _crescendo_, _sforzando_, _et cetera_, are not intended to
convey to the performer any definite degree of power. It is because of
misunderstanding with regard to this point that dynamic effects are so
frequently overdone by amateurs, both conductors and performers
seeming to imagine that every time the word _crescendo_ occurs the
performers are to bow or blow or sing at the very top of their power;
and that _sforzando_ means a violent accent approaching the effect of
a blast of dynamite, whether occurring in the midst of a vigorous,
spirited movement, or in a tender lullaby. Berlioz, in the treatise on
conducting appended to his monumental work on Orchestration, says:[20]

     A conductor often demands from his players an exaggeration
     of the dynamic nuances, either in this way to give proof of
     his ardor, or because he lacks fineness of musical
     perception. Simple shadings then become thick blurs, accents
     become passionate shrieks. The effects intended by the poor
     composer are quite distorted and coarsened, and the attempts
     of the conductor to be artistic, however honest they may be,
     remind us of the tenderness of the ass in the fable, who
     knocked his master down in trying to caress him.

[Footnote 20: Berlioz, _A Treatise on Modern Instrumentation and
Orchestration_, p. 255.]






Having devoted considerable space to discussing the two expressional
elements for which the composer is mainly responsible, let us now
present briefly certain matters connected with the other six elements
in our list (see p. 46). The two described as being partly controlled
by composer and partly by the interpreter are timbre and phrasing, and
we shall accordingly treat these first. Timbre or tone-quality is less
important than either tempo or dynamics, and is obviously less under
the control of the conductor. The vocalist may be induced to sing more
loudly or the violinist to play more rapidly, but it is often
impossible to get either to so modify his actual tone quality as to
make his rendition more expressive. And yet, in spite of this
difficulty, there are many passages in both choral and orchestral
music in which the essential significance depends absolutely upon
beauty or ugliness or plaintiveness or boldness of tone; and
especially in choral music is it possible for the conductor to induce
his chorus to bring out many more such effects than is usually done. A
positively ugly and raspy vocal tone may convey a certain dramatic
effect that no mere variation in dynamics is able to bring about, an
example of this being found in the _Chorus of People_ who sing at
various points in the cantata by Dubois called _The Seven Last Words
of Christ_. Another very short passage of the same sort is found in
Stainer's _Crucifixion_ in the scene at the cross. Mr. Coward has
written more in detail upon this point than anyone else, and we may
well quote his discussion of the topic "characterization."[21]

[Footnote 21: Coward, _Choral Technique and Interpretation_, p. 73.]

     One of the distinguishing features of modern choral
     technique is what I term "characterization," or realism of
     the sentiment expressed in the music. Formerly this kind of
     singing was tabooed to such an extent that when in
     rehearsals and at concerts I induced the Sheffield Musical
     Union to sing with graphic power musicians of the old school
     voted me a mad enthusiast, extravagant, theatrical, ultra,
     and many other things of the same sort. These people
     wondered why I wanted variety of tone color--who had ever
     heard of such a demand from a choir?--and many of my friends
     even thought I was demanding too much when, in rehearsing
     Berlioz's _Faust_, I asked for something harder in tone than
     the usual fluty, mellifluous sound in order to depict the
     hearty laugh of the peasants in the first chorus. They were
     almost scandalized when I asked for a somewhat raucous,
     devil-may-care carousal, tone in the "Auerbach's
     Wine-cellar" scene, and when a fiendish, snarling utterance
     was called for in the "Pandemonium" scene they thought I was
     mad. However, the performance settled all these objections.
     It was seen by contrast how ridiculous it was for a choir to
     laugh like Lord Dundreary with a sort of throaty gurgle; how
     inane it was to depict wine-cellar revelry with voices
     suggesting the sentimental drawing-room tenor, and how
     insipid it was to portray fiendish glee within hell's
     portals with the staid decorum of a body of local preachers
     of irreproachable character.

     Of course the battle in the rehearsal room had to be fought
     sternly inch by inch, but frequent trials, approval of the
     progress shown, and brilliant success at the concert won the
     day. It was so convincing that many said they could taste
     wine and smell brimstone....

     Contrasts of tone-color, contrasts of differently placed
     choirs, contrasts of sentiment--love, hate, hope, despair,
     joy, sorrow, brightness, gloom, pity, scorn, prayer, praise,
     exaltation, depression, laughter, and tears--in fact all the
     emotions and passions are now expected to be delineated by
     the voice alone. It may be said, in passing, that in
     fulfilling these expectations choral singing has entered on
     a new lease of life. Instead of the cry being raised that
     the choral societies are doomed, we shall find that by
     absorbing the elixir of _characterization_ they have renewed
     their youth; and when the shallow pleasures of the picture
     theater and the empty elements of the variety show have been
     discovered to be unsatisfying to the normal aspirations of
     intellectual, moral beings, the social, healthful,
     stimulating, intellectual, moral, and spiritual uplift of
     the choral society will be appreciated more than ever....

          Tender-handed stroke a nettle,
            And it stings you for your pains,
          Grasp it like a man of mettle,
            And it soft as silk remains.

     Before stating how to produce the laugh, the sob, the sigh,
     the snarl, the moan, bell effects, ejaculations and
     "trick-singing," all of which come under the head of
     _characterization_, I would say that if an ultra thing is
     undertaken it must be done boldly. The spirit of the old
     rhyme above quoted must be acted upon, or fear will paralyze
     the efforts put forth, and failure will be the result. In
     choral singing, as in other things, the masculinity of the
     doing, the boldness, the daring, the very audacity with
     which an extreme effect is produced, carries success with
     it. Therefore do not attempt a daring thing feebly or by


In instrumental music, timbre is also a highly potent influence in
arousing emotional states, and we are all familiar with the fact that
an oboe passage is often associated with the simplicity of outdoor
rural life; that a melody for English horn has somehow become
connected with mournful thoughts; the sound of trumpets, with martial
ideas; and the grunting of the lower register of the bassoon, with
comic effects. It is well known, also, that the skilful violinist can
cause his instrument to sound an infinite variety of shades of color.
But these means of expression are almost wholly under the control of
the individual players and of the composer (as orchestrator), and
cannot therefore be profitably discussed in a work on conducting.

[Sidenote: PHRASING]

The phrase in music is very similar to the phrase in language. In both
cases, it is a thought (usually incomplete and forming a part of some
larger idea) which must be slightly separated from the preceding and
following phrases, that it may be correctly understood; yet must be
so rendered in relation to the neighboring material as to seem an
integral part of the whole. In addition, it is of course necessary to
emphasize the important words in a language phrase and the most
significant tones in a musical one, as well as to subordinate the
comparatively unimportant parts, in such a way that the real
significance of the whole may be clear. Phrasing is thus readily seen
to be an extremely important factor in the expressive reading of
language, since one could scarcely interpret intelligibly if he did
not first of all read as a group the words that belong together as a
thought; and one could certainly not convey the correct idea of the
group to a listener if the most important words in it were not
stressed so as to stand out more vividly than the others. Although not
so readily understood because of the absence of symbolism, phrasing is
quite as important an element in the expressive rendition of music as
it is in the case of language. In order to interpret properly the
conductor must first of all determine what tones belong together in a
group; must make the individuality of these groups evident by slightly
separating them, but usually not to the degree of disturbing the basic
rhythmic flow; and must so manage the _dynamics_ and _tempo_ of each
phrase as to make its content clear to the listener. Many phrases are
so constructed that their proper delivery involves a gradual
_crescendo_ up to the climax (usually the highest tone) and a
corresponding _diminuendo_ from this point to the end of the phrase.


In vocal music, the matter of phrasing is comparatively simple because
here the composer has, in general, adapted the melody to the phrasing
of the text; and since in language we have definite ideas and concrete
imagery to assist us, all that we usually need to do in studying the
phrasing of vocal music is to follow carefully the phrasing of the
text. But even then a warning ought perhaps to be given the young
conductor regarding carelessness or ignorance on the part of singers
about some of the most fundamental principles of phrasing. The most
common mistakes made are:

     1. Taking breath unnecessarily in the middle of a phrase.

     2. Breathing between the syllables of a word.

     3. Dividing a long phrase improperly.

     4. Running over breathing places where a pause is really
     necessary in order to bring out the meaning of the text.

     5. Pronouncing the unaccented syllable of a word at the end
     of a phrase with too much stress.

     6. Failing to stress the climax sufficiently.

Mistakes of this kind are made because the singer all too frequently
fails to recognize the fact that the interpretation of vocal music
must be based upon the meaning of the text rather than upon purely
musical considerations (_cf._ quotation from Caruso on page 44).

A comma or rest ordinarily indicates the end of a phrase in vocal
music. If, however, the phrase as marked is too long to be taken in
one breath, the conductor should study it carefully for some point in
it where another breath may be taken without too greatly marring the
continuity of the text. Sometimes in a large chorus various sections
of a division may take breath at different points, thus preserving the
integrity of the phrase in certain cases where this is particularly
desirable. It should be noted that when a breath is taken in the
middle of a phrase or between the phrases where no rest occurs, the
time for breathing must always be taken from the last note of the
_preceding_ phrase, in order that the continuity of the rhythm may not
be sacrificed.

The importance of studying phrasing from the standpoint of the
effective rendition of sacred music will be realized more vividly if
one takes the trouble to inquire of some of the members of the
congregation how well they understood the words of the anthem or solo.
The replies that will ordinarily be given to such a question will
probably astonish the director of the church choir; and although he
will sometimes be inclined to put the blame on the ears and minds of
the congregation, there is no doubt that in very many cases the
difficulty may be traced to poor enunciation and faulty phrasing on
the part of the singers. The following examples are reported to be
authentic instances of phrasing by church choirs:

     Jesus lives no longer now,
     Can thy terrors, Death, appall us?

The poet had quite a different thought in mind when he penned these
words, with the correct punctuation marks:

     Jesus lives! no longer now
     Can thy terrors, Death, appall us!

     The wild winds hushed the angry deep,
     Sank like a little child to sleep.

What this verse means is, of course, easily seen by inserting the
correct punctuation marks:

     The wild winds hushed; the angry deep
     Sank like a little child to sleep.


In instrumental music we have no definite ideas and no concrete
imagery to guide us; and the conductor, in company with all other
students of instrumental music, will find it necessary to study his
score most carefully if he is to unravel the threads that are woven
together in such complex fashion in orchestral music. As implied
above, phrasing in instrumental music means:

     1. The grouping together of tones that belong to the same
     musical thought, this implying a slight break in continuity
     between phrases, as in language.

     2. Making evident the musical significance of the group by
     accenting or prolonging its most important tones.

These are only general principles, however, and the details of
phrasing in instrumental music cannot be treated adequately in writing
because of their too great complexity. It is only through practice,
reinforced by the intelligent criticism of a real musician, that skill
and taste in the art of phrasing can be acquired. A few concrete
suggestions are offered, and these may be of some slight help to the
amateur, but they are not to be thought of as "a complete guide."

     1. The first tone of the phrase is often stressed slightly
     in order to mark the beginning of the new idea.

     2. The final tone (particularly of the short phrase) is
     commonly shortened in order to make clear the separation
     between phrases.

     3. The climacteric tone of the phrase is often prolonged
     slightly as well as accented, in order to make its
     relationship to the other tones stand out clearly.

[Sidenote: RHYTHM]

Closely connected with phrasing is rhythm, and although the rhythmic
factor should perhaps theoretically belong wholly to the composer,
since he is able to express his rhythmic ideas in definite notation,
yet in actual practice this does not prove to be the case because the
amateur player or singer so often finds that "time is hard"; and there
are consequently many occasions when the rhythm indicated by the
composer is wholly distorted, either because the performers are weak
in their rhythmic feeling or because the conductor is careless and
does not see to it that the rhythmic response of his chorus or
orchestra is accurate and incisive and yet elastic.

Rhythm is the oldest of the musical elements and there is no question
but that the rhythmic appeal is still the strongest of all for the
majority of people. Rhythm is the spark of life in music, therefore,
woe to the composer who attempts to substitute ethereal harmonies for
virile rhythms as a general principle of musical construction. Mere
tones, even though beautiful both in themselves and through effective
combination, are meaningless, and it is only through rhythm that they
become vitalized. In order to have interesting performances of choral
and orchestral music the conductor must see to it that the performers
play or sing all rhythmic figures correctly, that long tones are
sustained for their correct duration, and that in general the musical
performance be permeated by that steady throb of regular pulsation
which is the foundation of all rhythmic coherence.

Modern musical rhythm is so complex in its frequent employment of
syncopations, "cross accents," _et cetera_, that the prospective
conductor must study indefatigably if he is to unravel its apparently
inextricably snarled-up threads. We assume, however, that detailed
study of rhythm has constituted a part of the student's work in piano,
singing, _et cetera_, and shall therefore not attempt to treat the
matter further. Let us advise the would-be conductor, however, to
continue his study of rhythm and phrasing unceasingly and never to
allow himself to be deluded into believing that an accurate knowledge
of these things is less necessary now than formerly. It has seemed to
us that some public performers of the present day were cloaking their
inability to play or sing with rhythmic accuracy under a pretense of
being highly artistic and flexible in their rhythmic feeling. Needless
to say, the existence of such a state of affairs is to be greatly
deplored and the student is admonished to make sure that he is able to
perform every detail of his music with metronomic accuracy before he
attempts _rubato_ effects.


The second, third, and fourth of the elements of expression as cited
in our list on page 46 belong almost wholly to the composer since he
is able to indicate them precisely, and the conductor's chief concern
in dealing with melody, harmony, and pitch registers will be to make
certain that the composer's wishes are carried out to the letter. For
this reason no attempt will be made to discuss these matters further,
the topic belonging to composition rather than to conducting.


Now that we have reviewed the elements of expression somewhat fully,
what of the conductor? Shall we give him a set of specific directions
for making his chorus or orchestra sing or play more loudly or more
rapidly or more dramatically? Our reply is--no, not any more than we
should attempt to show the student of acting or oratory exactly what
gestures he is to make use of in playing upon the emotions of his
audience. As implied at the outset, the thing that is necessary in
both cases is that the interpreter have:

     1. General scholarship.

     2. An intimate acquaintance with the content and spirit of
     the particular work to be interpreted.

Granting the presence of these two things, the actual gestures will
usually take care of themselves. The conductor Altschuler remarks on
this point:

     There is no artificial code of signals needed between the
     conductor and his men; what the conductor needs is a clear
     conception of the composition.

We are fully in accord with this sentiment; but for the benefit of the
tyro it may be well to note again that, in general, a quickening of
tempo is indicated by a shorter, more vigorous stroke of the baton,
whereas a slowing down in rate of speed, especially when accompanied
by a letting down of emotional intensity, involves a longer, more
flowing movement, with more back stroke. Louder tone is often
indicated by the clenched fist, the _fortissimo_ effect at the
climacteric point often involving a strong muscular contraction in the
entire body; while softer tone is frequently called for by holding the
left hand out with palm down, by loosening the grip upon the baton,
and by a generally relaxed condition of the entire body. Dynamic
changes are also indicated to a certain extent by the amplitude of the
beat and by the position of the hands. In calling for a _pianissimo_
effect, the conductor usually gives short beats with the hands close
together (if the left hand is also used), but in demanding
_fortissimo_ the beat is usually of much greater amplitude, and the
hands, therefore, widely separated. For the swell ([crescendo-decrescendo
symbol]) the hands are usually close together at the beginning, are
then gradually separated as far as possible, coming together again at
the end of the _decrescendo_.

Changes in quality are perhaps most frequently suggested by variation
in the facial expression, poise of body, _et cetera_, while phrasing
is often indicated by a movement of the left hand (thus signaling some
part to begin or stop) or by a lifting of the arms and shoulders at
the breathing point, thus simulating the action of the lungs in taking
breath, and causing the singers or players actually to take a breath
by instinctive imitation. The manner in which the baton is grasped and
manipulated is of course another way of indicating these various
expressional effects, this being especially noticeable in the case of
phrasing, which is perhaps most often indicated by simply raising the
baton higher at the end of a phrase, thus preparing it for a longer
sweep at the beginning of the following phrase. But all of these
things are done in different ways by various conductors, and no set
rules can therefore be formulated.

The most important point to be noted by the beginner in conducting is
that one must not direct with merely the hand and arm, but must use
the entire body from head to toe in communicating to his chorus or
orchestra his own emotion. Facial expression, the manner of grasping
the baton, the set of the shoulders, the elevation of the chest, the
position of the feet, the poise of the head--all these must he
indicative of the emotional tone of the music being rendered. But be
sure you feel a genuine emotion which leads you to do these various
things, and do not play to the audience by going through all kinds of
contortions that are not prompted at all by the meaning of the music,
but are called into existence entirely by the conductor's desire to
have the audience think that he is a great interpreter. If the
conductor does his work at any point in such a fashion that the
audience watches him and is filled with marvel and admiration because
of the interesting movements that he is making, instead of listening
to the chorus or orchestra and being thrilled by the beautiful music
that is being heard, then that conductor is retarding rather than
advancing the progress of art appreciation; in short he is failing in
his mission. One of the sincerest compliments that the writer has ever
received came when he asked his wife whether he had conducted well at
a certain public performance, and she replied that she guessed it was
all right, but that she had been so absorbed in listening to the music
that she had not thought of him at all!

The development of modern orchestral and operatic music has brought
about a tremendous change in the prominence of the conductor, and
there is no doubt but that his part in musical performance is now more
important than that of any other type of interpreter, being probably
second in importance only to that of the composer. From having been
originally a mere time-beater, he has now come to be the interpreter
_par excellence_; and as Weingartner remarks (_op. cit._, p. 9) in
referring to Wagner's conducting:

     He is often able to transform as if by magic a more or less
     indefinite sound picture into a beautifully shaped,
     heart-moving vision, making people ask themselves in
     astonishment how it is that this work which they had long
     thought they knew should have all at once become quite
     another thing. And the unprejudiced mind joyfully confesses,
     "Thus, thus, must it be."

It will soon be discovered by the amateur that in every case where an
effect such as that described by Weingartner has been brought about,
it is because the conductor has studied the music and has then made
gestures which were prompted by his sympathetic response to the
thought of the composer. In other words, the conducting was effective
because the feeling which prompted the gestures came from within, as
is always the case when an orator or an actor moves us deeply. This is
what is meant by interpretation in conducting; and we can scarcely do
better, in concluding our discussion of the whole matter, than to
quote once more from a writer to whom we have already referred.[22]

[Footnote 22: C.F.A. Williams, _The Rhythm of Modern Music_, p. 18.]

     The great interpreters of instrumental music are those who
     can most nearly enter into the composer's ideals, or can
     even improve upon them, and who are able to give a delicacy
     or force of accentuation or phrasing which it is outside of
     the possibility of notation to express.... The days of cold,
     classical performance of great works are practically over.
     The executant or conductor now seeks to stir the deeper
     emotions of his audience, and to do so he must pay homage to
     the artist who conceived the work, by interpreting it with
     enthusiasm and warmth.




The phenomenal progress which has been made during recent years in the
music departments of both the grades and the high schools of our great
public educational systems, together with the fact that a large number
of young men and women of real musical ability are entering the field
of public school music as a life work, make it seem worth while to
include a chapter upon the work of the music supervisor as conductor.
The writer has long contended that the public school systems of this
country offered the most significant opportunity for influencing the
musical taste of a nation that has ever existed. If this be true, then
it is highly important that the teachers of music in these school
systems shall be men and women who are, in the first place, thoroughly
trained musicians; in the second place, broadly educated along general
lines; and in the third place, imbued with a knowledge concerning, and
a spirit of enthusiasm for, what free education along cultural lines
is able to accomplish in the lives of the common people. In connection
with this latter kind of knowledge, the supervisor of music will, of
course, need also to become somewhat intimately acquainted with
certain basic principles and practical methods of both general
pedagogy and music education.

We are not writing a treatise on music in the public schools, and
shall therefore not attempt to acquaint the reader, in the space of
one chapter, with even the fundamental principles of school music
teaching. We shall merely call attention to certain phases of the
supervisor's work that seem to come within the scope of a book on


The first point that we should like to have noted in this connection
is that teaching a group of from forty to one hundred children all at
the same time is a vastly different matter from giving individual
instruction to a number of pupils separately. The teacher of a class
needs to be much more energetic, much more magnetic, much more capable
of keeping things moving and of keeping everyone interested in the
work and therefore out of mischief; he needs, in short, to possess in
high degree those qualities involved in leadership and organization
that were cited in an earlier chapter as necessary for the conductor
in general. In teaching individual pupils one need not usually think
of the problem of _discipline_ at all; but, in giving instruction to a
class of from thirty to forty children in the public schools, one
inevitably finds in the same group those with musical ability and
those without it; those who are interested in the music lesson and
those who are indifferent or even openly scornful; those who are full
of energy and enthusiasm and those who are lazy and indifferent and
will do only what they are made to do; those who have had lessons on
piano or violin and have acquired considerable proficiency in
performance, and those who have just come in from an outlying rural
school where no music has ever been taught, and are therefore not able
to read music, have no musical perception or taste whatsoever, and are
frequently not even able to "carry a tune." In dealing with such
heterogeneous classes, problems of discipline as well as problems of
pedagogy are bound to arise, and it requires rare tact and skill in
working out details of procedure, as well as a broad vision of the
ultimate end to be accomplished, to bring order out of such musical
chaos. And yet precisely this result is being secured by hundreds of
music teachers and supervisors all over the country; and the musical
effects of a fifteen-minute daily practice period are already
surprisingly evident, and will undoubtedly become more and more
manifest as the years go by. The outlook for the future is wholly
inspiring indeed; and no musician need fear that in taking up public
school music he is entering upon a field of work which is too small
for one of his caliber. The only question to be asked in such a case
is whether the teacher in question is big enough and is sufficiently
trained along musical, general, and pedagogical lines to handle this
important task in such fashion as to insure a result commensurate with
the opportunity.


Charm of personality has a great deal to do with the success of many
directors of children's singing. School superintendents are well aware
of this fact, and of two equally capable candidates for a school
position (especially one involving work with small children) the
supervisor who is attractive in appearance and neat in attire, is
almost sure to be chosen. We mention this fact not in order to
discourage those not possessing an average amount of personal charm,
but to encourage them to take physical exercise, and by other means to
increase the attractiveness of their physical appearance; to enhance
their charm further by tasteful dress; and most important of all, to
cultivate a sprightly and cheerful attitude (but not a patronizing and
gushing manner) toward children as well as adults. Attractiveness of
personality may be increased further by the cultivation of refined
language and a well-modulated voice in speaking, as well as by
schooling oneself in the habitual use of the utmost courtesy in
dealing with all people.


In the lower grades, it is best not to conduct formally with baton in
hand, but rather to stand (or sit) before the class, and by facial
expression, significant gesture, bodily pose, _et cetera_, arouse an
appropriate response to the "expression" of the song. Every song tells
a story of some sort and even little children can be caused to sing
with surprisingly good "expression" if the teacher makes a consistent
effort to arouse the correct mental and emotional attitude toward each
individual song every time it is sung.


In teaching a class of older children, it is well for the supervisor
to stand at the front of the room with baton in hand, giving the
conventional signals for attack and release and beating time in the
usual way during at least a part of each song in order that the
children may become accustomed to following a conductor's beat. It is
not necessary to beat time constantly, and the teacher, after giving
the signal for the attack and setting the tempo, may lower the baton,
until a _fermata_, or a _ritardando_, or the final tone of the song
makes its use necessary again.

A word of warning should perhaps be inserted at this point against
tapping with the baton, counting aloud, beating time with the foot,
_et cetera_, on the teacher's part. These various activities may
occasionally be necessary, in order to prevent dragging, to change the
tempo, to get a clear and incisive rhythmic response in a certain
passage, _et cetera_; but their habitual employment is not only
exceedingly inartistic, but is positively injurious to the rhythmic
sense of the children, because it takes away from them the opportunity
(or rather necessity) of each one making his own individual muscular
response to the rhythm of the music. The more responsibility the
teacher takes, the less the pupils will assume, and in this way they
are deprived of the practice which they need in working out the rhythm
for themselves, the result often being that a group of children get to
the point where they cannot "keep time" at all unless some one counts
aloud or pounds the desk with a ruler as an accompaniment to their


A very large element in the success of all public performances is the
selection of just the right type of music. In the case of small
children, unison songs with attractive music and childlike texts
should be chosen. When the children are somewhat older (from eight or
nine to twelve) longer and more elaborate unison songs provided with
musicianly accompaniments may be selected, while rounds and
unaccompanied part songs are effective by way of contrast. In the case
of upper-grade children, part songs (sometimes even with a bass part,
if there are enough changed voices to carry it successfully) are best.
But it should be noted that the voices in these upper grades are not
usually so clear and brilliant as they have been in the two or three
preceding years, the beauty and brilliancy of the child's voice
culminating at about the Sixth Grade.


In planning public performances for a high school chorus, many
difficult questions arise. Shall the program consist of miscellaneous
selections or of a connected work? If the latter, shall it be of the
operatic type, involving action, scenery, and costumes, or shall it be
of the cantata or oratorio type? And if the latter, shall heavy works
like the _Messiah_ and _Elijah_ be given, or shall our efforts be
confined to presenting the shorter and simpler modern works which are
musically interesting and in the rendition of which the immature
voices of adolescent boys and girls are not so likely to be strained?
A discussion of these matters properly belongs in a treatise on public
school music, and we can only state our belief here that, in general,
the _musical_ development of the children will be more directly
fostered by practice upon choral rather than upon operatic works; and
that extreme care must be exercised by the high school chorus director
in handling immature voices lest they be strained in the enthusiasm of
singing music written for mature adult voices. Whether this implies
the entire elimination of the _Messiah_ and other similar works, is
left to the discretion of each individual supervisor, it being our
task merely to point out the responsibility of the high school chorus
director for recognizing the difference between mature voices and
immature ones.


In giving public performances with a large group of small children,
the director will need to learn that it is necessary to teach in
advance the precise shading to be employed at the performance. In
working with an adult chorus, the conductor expects every singer to
watch him closely throughout the selection, and many slight changes of
tempo and dynamics are made at the performance that have perhaps never
been thought of during the rehearsal. But children are usually not
able to keep their minds on the task in hand to this extent, and if
there is to be a _ritardando_ or a _crescendo_ at a certain point, the
only safe thing is to teach this change in tempo or dynamics when
first taking up the song, so that the expressional element may become
a habit in the same way as the tones and rhythms. This is particularly
necessary in teaching the same songs to several different groups
separately in preparation for a public performance in which various
groups that have not practised together are to sing the same numbers.


The conductor must always appear cheerful and confident when
conducting children (or for that matter, adults) in public, for if he
seems anxious and distressed, or worse yet, if he informs the singers
that he is afraid that they will not do well, his uneasiness is almost
sure to be communicated to the performers and there will probably be a
panic and perhaps even a breakdown. If the conductor seriously feels
that the compositions to be performed have not been rehearsed
sufficiently, it will be far better for him either to insist upon
extra rehearsals (even at considerable inconvenience), or else upon a
postponement of the performance. A good rule to follow in preparing
for a public performance of any kind is this: _Go through the work
over and over until it is done correctly; then go through it enough
times more to fix this correct way in mind and muscle as a habit._ Too
many performances are given upon an inadequate rehearsal basis, and it
has happened again and again that performers have been so busy
watching the notes that they have had no time to watch the conductor,
and the rendition of really beautiful music has been made in a tame,
groping, and consequently uninteresting manner. Our American
impatience with slow processes of any sort is as often to blame here
as the negligence of the conductor, the latter often arranging to have
a performance at an earlier date than he really wishes to because he
knows that his chorus will become impatient with the large number of
repetitions that a really artistic performance requires.


In directing a large high school chorus (sometimes numbering from five
hundred to fifteen hundred singers), the conductor will find it
necessary to study his score in advance even more than usual, for here
he is dealing with large numbers of bright and lively American boys
and girls, many of whom are not particularly interested in the chorus
practice and all of whom love to indulge in mischievous pranks of
various sorts. The conductor who is likely to be most successful in
handling such a chorus is he who, other things being equal, has
prepared his work most thoroughly and is able to conduct without
looking at his music at all, and who can, therefore, keep things
moving throughout the rehearsal period. We might add that if he does
not keep things moving _musically_, the students in his chorus will
keep them moving along other and probably less desirable lines!


Many other topics might be discussed in this chapter but the subject
is too complex for adequate treatment except in a work dealing with
this one subject alone. Let us, therefore, close the chapter by giving
a plan for seating the high school chorus that has been found
effective in various schools where it has been used.


 Mezzo-soprano    |   Mezzo-soprano
     girls        |       girls
singing soprano   |   singing alto
  Girl   |        | Baritones | Girl
Sopranos | Tenors |    and    | Altos
---------+        |  Basses   +-------
  Boy    |        |           |  Boy
Sopranos |        |           | Altos
                   +--------+ +-----+
                   |Director| |Piano|
                   +--------+ +-----+]

The advantages of the plan given above are:

     1. That it places the boys in front where their less
     developed voices and often smaller numbers will insure
     better balance,[23] and where also the teacher can more
     easily see what is going on in their midst.

     2. It places all the boys in the same part of the room and
     thus removes the chief objection that boys with unchanged
     voices make to singing soprano and alto. There will probably
     not be a great number of these unchanged voices in any
     ordinary high school chorus, but there are almost certain to
     be a few, and these few should not be attempting to sing
     tenor or bass when their voice-range is still that of
     soprano or alto.

     3. By placing the _mezzo_ voices (of which variety there are
     usually more than of any other) between the sopranos and
     altos, they can be used on either the soprano or alto part,
     as may be necessitated by the range and dynamic demands of
     the composition in hand. In seating these _mezzo-soprano_
     girls the teacher may furthermore allow those who, although
     having _mezzo_ voices, prefer to sing the alto part, to sit
     on the side next to the alto section and the others on the
     side next to the soprano section. If there are any boys with
     unchanged voices who are _mezzo_ in range, they may be
     seated directly back of the bass section, thus keeping them
     in the boys' division and yet giving them an opportunity of
     singing with those who have the same range as themselves.

[Footnote 23: The essentials of this same plan of seating are
recommended to adult choruses for a like reason; _viz._, in order to
enable a smaller number of men's voices to balance a larger number of
sopranos and altos by placing the men in the most prominent position,
instead of seating them back of the women, as is so frequently done.]

As will be noted in the plan, the conductor stands directly in front
of the basses, the piano being placed on either side as may be most
convenient, the pianist, of course, facing the conductor. In directing
a large chorus, it is a great advantage to have two pianos, one on
either side.




The recent rise of community music has evoked no little controversy as
to whether art can be made "free as air" and its satisfactions thrown
open to all, poor as well as rich; or whether it is by its very nature
exclusive and aristocratic and therefore necessarily to be confined
largely to the few. We are inclined to the former belief, and would
therefore express the opinion that in our efforts to bring beauty into
the lives of all the people, we are engaged in one of the most
significant musico-sociological enterprises ever inaugurated. For this
reason we shall discuss at this point ways and means of securing
satisfactory results in one of the most interesting phases of
community music, _viz._, the community chorus. The development of the
community chorus (and indeed to a certain extent, the whole movement
to bring music and the other arts into the lives of the proletariat)
is due to a combination of artistic and sociological impulses; and it
undoubtedly owes its origin and success as much to the interest in the
living and social problems of the middle and lower classes, which the
recently developed science of sociology has aroused, as it does to
purely musical impulses.

Because of the fact that community music is a sociological phenomenon
as well as an artistic one, the director of a community chorus must
possess a combination of artistic and personal traits not necessarily
present in the case of other musicians. In particular, he must be a
good mixer as well as a good musician; and if one or the other of
these qualities has to be sacrificed in some degree in favor of the
other, we should be inclined to insist first of all upon the right
sort of personal traits in the leader of community music. In order to
be really successful in working among the common people, the leader
must be one of them in all sincerity of spirit, and must be genuinely
in sympathy with their point of view. This fact is especially
pertinent in those types of work in which one deals with large masses
of men and women. The director of community singing must therefore,
first of all, be a good mob leader. But if, having met the people upon
their own level, he can now call upon his artistic instincts and his
musical training, and by means of a purely esthetic appeal raise his
crowd a degree or two higher in their appreciation of music as a fine
art, eventually perhaps finding it possible to interest them in a
higher type of music than is represented by the songs sung in this
friendly and informal way, then he has indeed performed his task with
distinction, and may well be elated over the results of his labors.


One of the fundamental reasons for encouraging the use of carols at
community Christmas tree celebrations, as well as other similar forms
of group singing, is its beneficial effect upon the attitude of the
people toward one another and toward their social group or their
country. Through singing together in this informal way, each
individual in the crowd is apt to be drawn closer to the others, to
feel more interested in his neighbors; and in the case of "sings,"
where the dominating note is patriotism, to become imbued with a
deeper spirit of loyalty to country. In very many cases, individuals
who formerly would have nothing to do with one another have been drawn
together and have become really friendly, as the result of sitting
together at a community "sing." Referring to the effect of the first
"Song and Light Festival" in New York City, a well-known artist

     The movement illustrates plainly to me the coming forth of a
     new consciousness. Outside the park, strikes, sedition,
     anarchy, hatred, malice, envy; within, beauty, peace, the
     sense of brotherhood and harmony.... Community singing is
     teaching men to find themselves, and to do it in unity and
     brotherly love.

[Footnote 24: Kitty Cheatham, _Musical America_, October 7, 1916.]

This same sort of an effect has been noted by us and by innumerable
others in many other places, and various testimonies to the beneficial
social effect of community singing, neighborhood bands, school
orchestras, children's concerts, and similar types of musical activity
have come from all parts of the country since the inception of the

The impulse to bring music into the lives of all the people is not a
fad, but is the result of the working out of a deep-seated and
tremendously significant innate tendency--the instinct for
self-expression; the same instinct which in another form is making us
all feel that democracy is the only sure road to ultimate satisfaction
and happiness. It behooves the musician, therefore, to study the
underlying bases of the community music movement, and to use this new
tool that has been thus providentially thrown into his hands for the
advancement of art appreciation, rather than to stand aloof and scoff
at certain imperfections and crudities which inevitably are only too
evident in the present phase of the movement.


If the social benefit referred to above,--_viz._, the growth of group
feeling and of neighborly interest in one's fellows, is to result from
our community singing, we must first of all have leaders who are able
to make people feel cheerful and at ease. The community song leader
must be able to raise a hearty laugh occasionally, and he must by the
magnetism of his personality be able to make men and women who have
not raised their voices in song for years past forget their shyness,
forget to be afraid of the sound of their own voices, forget to wonder
whether anyone is listening, and join heartily in the singing.

There is no one way of securing this result; in fact, the same leader
often finds it necessary to use different tactics in dealing with
different crowds, or for that matter, different methods with the same
crowd at different times. The crux of the matter is that the leader
must in some way succeed in breaking up the formality, the stiffness
of the occasion; must get the crowd to loosen up in their attitude
toward him, toward one another, and toward singing. This can often be
accomplished by making a pointed remark or two about the song, and
thus, by concentrating the attention upon the meaning of the words,
make the singers forget themselves. Sometimes having various sections
of the crowd sing different stanzas, or different parts of a stanza
antiphonally will bring the desired result. By way of variety, also,
the women may be asked to sing the verse while the entire chorus joins
in the refrain; or the men and women may alternate in singing stanzas;
or those in the back of the balcony may repeat the refrain as an echo;
or the leader and the crowd may sing antiphonally. In these various
ways, considerable rivalry may be aroused in the various sections of a
large chorus, and the stiffness and unfriendliness will usually be
found to disappear like magic. But if the director is cold and formal
in his attitude, and if one song after another is sung in the
conventional way with no comment, no anecdote, and no division into
sections, the people will be more than likely to go away criticizing
the leader or the accompanist or the songs or each other, and the next
time the crowd will probably be smaller and the project will
eventually die out. The chronic fault-finder will then say, "I told
you it was only a fad and that it would not last"; but he is wrong,
and the failure must be attributed to poor management rather than to
any inherent weakness in the idea itself.


The majority of people have no opportunity of singing except when they
go to church; but many do not go to church often, and even those who
go do not always sing, and only have the opportunity of singing one
type of music when they do take part. Moreover, for various reasons,
the singing of church congregations is not as hearty as it used to be
a generation or two ago. The opportunity to spend an hour in singing
patriotic hymns, sentimental songs, and occasionally a really fine
composition, such as the _Pilgrims' Chorus_ from _Tannhäuser_, is
therefore eagerly welcomed by a great many men and women--those
belonging to the upper classes as well as the proletariat. When once
the barrier of formality has been broken down, such gatherings,
especially when directed by a leader who is a good musician as well as
a good mixer, may well become the means of interesting many thousands
of men and women in the more artistic phases of music; may indeed
eventually transform many a community, not only from a crowd of
individuals into a homogeneous social group, but may actually change
the city or village from a spot where ugliness has reigned supreme to
one where the dominating note is beauty--beauty of service as well as
beauty of street and garden and public building; and where drama and
music, pictures and literature, are the most cherished possessions of
the people. In a place which has been so transformed, the "eight hours
of leisure" that have so troubled our sociologists will present no
problem whatever; for the community chorus, the neighborhood
orchestra, the music and dramatic clubs, and the splendid libraries
and art galleries will assume most of the burden of providing a worthy
use of leisure.


Community "sings" (like everything else that is to achieve success in
this age) must be advertised, and to the leader usually falls the lot
of acting as advertising manager. It will be well to begin the
campaign a month or more before the first "sing" is to be held,
sending short articles to the local papers, in which is described the
success of similar enterprises in other places. Then a week or so
before the "sing," carefully worded announcements should be read in
churches, Sunday schools, lodge meetings, and high-school assemblies.
In connection with this general publicity, the leader will do well
also to talk personally with a large number of men and women in
various walks of life, asking these people not only to agree to be
present themselves, but urging them to talk about the project to other
friends and acquaintances, inviting them to come also. On the day of
the first "sing" it may be well to circulate attractively printed
handbills as a final reminder, these of course giving in unmistakable
language the time and place of the meeting and perhaps stating in bold
type that admission is entirely free and that no funds are to be
solicited. These various advertising activities will naturally
necessitate the expenditure of a small amount of money; but it is
usually possible to secure donations or at least reductions of price
in the case of printing, hall rental, _et cetera_, and the small
amount of actual cash that is needed can usually be raised among a
group of interested people without any difficulty. It is our belief
that the whole project is more likely to succeed if the leader himself
is serving without remuneration, for he will then be easily able to
refute any charge that he is urging the project out of selfish or
mercenary considerations.


The leader of community singing must not make the mistake of supposing
that "everybody knows _America_, _Swanee River_, and _Old Black Joe_,"
and that no words need therefore to be provided. As a matter of fact,
not more than one person in twenty-five can repeat correctly even one
of these songs that "everybody knows," and we may as well recognize
this fact at the outset and thus prevent a probable fiasco. There are
three ways of placing the songs before our crowd of people:

     1. Having the words of all songs to be sung printed on
     sheets of paper and passing one of these out to each person
     in the audience.

     2. Furnishing a book of songs at a cost of five or ten cents
     and asking each person in the audience to purchase this book
     before the "sing" begins, bringing it back each succeeding

     3. Flashing the words (sometimes the music also) on a screen
     in front of the assembly. The disadvantage of the last named
     method is the fact that the auditorium has to be darkened in
     order that the words may stand out clearly; but in
     out-of-door singing the plan has very great advantages,
     being for this purpose perhaps the best of the three.

After the chorus has gotten well on its feet, it will probably be best
to purchase copies of some larger and more elaborate book, the copies
being either owned by individual members or else purchased out of
treasury funds, and therefore belonging to the organization. At the
first "sing" it will be a distinct advantage if no financial outlay
whatever is required of the individuals composing the chorus.


In conclusion, let us urge the leader of community singing to decide
beforehand just what songs are to be used, and to study the words of
these songs carefully so as to be able to imbue the chorus with the
correct spirit of each one, having at his tongue's end the story of
the song and other pointed remarks about it that will enliven the
occasion and keep things from stagnating. He will, of course,
frequently find it necessary to modify his plan as the "sing"
progresses, for one of the most necessary qualifications in the leader
is flexibility and quick wit. But if he has a definite program in mind
and knows his material so well that he does not need to look at his
book, he will be much more likely to succeed in holding the interest
of his chorus throughout the "sing."

Let him be sure that a skilful accompanist is at hand to play the
piano, perhaps even going to the trouble of meeting the accompanist
beforehand and going through all material to be used so as to insure a
mutual understanding upon such matters as tempo, _et cetera_. In
out-of-door group singing a brass quartet (consisting of two cornets
and two trombones, or two cornets, a trombone, and a baritone) is more
effective than a piano, but if this is to be done be sure to find
players who can transpose, or else write out the parts in the proper
transposed keys. When such an accompaniment is to be used, the leader
should have at least one rehearsal with the quartet in order that
there may be no hitches.


If possible, let the "sing" be held, in some hall not connected with
any particular group of people, so that all may feel equally at home
(there are decided objections to using either a church or a lodge
room); and, in giving the invitation for the first meeting, make sure
that no group of people shall have any ground whatsoever for feeling
slighted, even in the smallest degree.

Granting the various factors that we have been recommending, and, most
important of all, having provided the right type of leader to take
charge of the "sings," the enterprise cannot but have significant
results along both musical and sociological lines.




Conducting an orchestra from full score is a vastly more complicated
matter than directing a chorus singing four-part music, and the
training necessary in order to prepare one for this task is long and
complicated. In addition to the points already rehearsed as necessary
for the conductor in general, the leader of an orchestra must in the
first place know at least superficially the method of playing the
chief orchestral instruments, the advantages and disadvantages
involved in using their various registers, the difficulties of certain
kinds of execution, and other similar matters which are often referred
to by the term _instrumentation_. In the second place, he must
understand the combinations of these various instruments that are most
effective, and also what registers in certain instruments blend well
with others; in other words, he must be familiar with the science of
_orchestration_. In the third place, he must understand the
complicated subject of _transposing instruments_, and must be able to
detect a player's mistakes by reading the transposed part as readily
as any other. And finally, he must be able to perform that most
difficult task of all, _viz._, to read an orchestral score with at
least a fair degree of ease, knowing at all times what each performer
is supposed to be playing and whether he is doing the right thing or
not. This implies being able to look at the score as a whole and get a
fairly definite impression of the total effect; but it also involves
the ability to take the score to the piano and assemble the various
parts (including the transposed ones) so that all important tones,
harmonic and melodic, are brought out. A glance at even a very simple
orchestral score such as that found in Appendix B will probably at
once convince the reader of the complexity of the task, and will
perhaps make him hesitate to "rush in where angels fear to tread"
until he has spent a number of years in preparation for the work.


The above description has reference, of course, to conducting an
orchestra of approximately symphonic dimensions, and does not refer to
the comparatively easy task of directing a group consisting of piano,
violins, cornet, trombone, and perhaps one or two other instruments
that happen to be available.[25] In organizing an "orchestra" of this
type, the two most necessary factors are a fairly proficient reader at
the piano (which, of course, not only supplies the complete harmony,
but also covers a multitude of sins both of omission and of
commission), and at least one skilful violinist, who must also be a
good reader. Given these two indispensable elements, other parts may
be added as players become available; and although the larger the
number of wind instruments admitted, the greater the likelihood of
out-of-tune playing, yet so great is the fascination of tonal variety
that our inclination is always to secure as many kinds of instruments
as possible.

[Footnote 25: Let us not be misunderstood at this point. We are not
sneering at the heterogeneous collections of instruments that are
gathered together under the name of _orchestra_ in many of the public
schools throughout the country. On the contrary, we regard this
rapidly increasing interest in ensemble playing as one of the most
significant tendencies that has ever appeared in our American musical
life, and as a result of it we expect to see the establishment of many
an additional orchestra of symphonic rank, as well as the filling in
of existing organizations with American-born and American-trained
players. There is no reason why wind players should not be trained in
this country as well as in Europe, if we will only make a consistent
attempt to interest our children in the study of these instruments
while they are young, and provide sufficient opportunity for ensemble
practice in connection with our music departments in the public

The chief value to be derived from ensemble practice of this type is
not, of course, in any public performances that may be given, but is
to be found in the effect upon the performers themselves, and the
principal reason for encouraging the organization of all sorts of
instrumental groups is in order to offer an opportunity for ensemble
playing to as many amateur performers as possible. For this reason,
unavoidable false intonation must not be too seriously regarded.

An orchestra such as we have been describing is frequently directed by
one of the performers; but it is our belief that if the group consists
of ten or more players it will be far better to have the conductor
stand before the players and direct them with a baton. The type of
music that is available for amateur ensemble practice is unfortunately
not often accompanied by a full score for the conductor's use, and he
must usually content himself with studying the various parts as well
as he may before the rehearsal, and then direct from a first violin
part (in which the beginnings of all important parts played by other
instruments are "cued in"). Directing from an incomplete score is, of
course, extremely unsatisfactory from the musician's standpoint, but
the necessity of doing it has this advantage, _viz._, that many
persons who have charge of small "orchestras" of this type would be
utterly unable to follow a full score, and might therefore be
discouraged from organizing the group at all.


Symphony orchestras are always seated in approximately the same way,
and if our small ensemble group consists of twenty players or more, it
will be well for the conductor to arrange them in somewhat the same
manner as a larger orchestra. In order to make this clear, the
ordinary arrangement of the various parts of a symphony orchestra is
here supplied. The position of the wood winds and of the lower strings
as well as of the percussion instruments and harp varies somewhat,
this depending upon the composition being performed, the
idiosyncrasies of the conductor, the size and shape of the platform,
_et cetera_.


In dealing with a smaller group (not of symphonic dimensions), it will
be well to have the piano in the middle, the lower strings at the
left, the winds at the right, and the violins in their usual position.
The diagram will make this clear. It is to be noted that this seating
plan is only suggestive, and that some other arrangement may
frequently prove more satisfactory.



In a symphony orchestra of about one hundred players, the proportion
of instruments is approximately as follows:

     1. STRINGS:
          18 first violins
          16 second violins
          14 violas
          12 violoncellos
          10 double basses

     2. WOOD WIND:
          3 flutes  }
          1 piccolo } (Usually only three players)

          3 oboes        }
          1 English horn } (Usually only three players)

          3 clarinets     }
          1 bass clarinet } (Usually only three players)

          3 bassoons       }
          1 double bassoon } (Usually only three players)

     3. BRASS WIND:
          4 horns (Sometimes 6 or 8)
          2 or 3 trumpets (Sometimes 2 cornets also)
          3 trombones
          1 bass tuba

          1 bass drum  }
          1 snare drum } (One player)

          3 kettledrums (Of different sizes--one player)

          1 triangle     }
          1 glockenspiel } (One player)
          1 pair cymbals }
            _et cetera_

          1 harp (Sometimes 2)

It will be noted that out of about one hundred players almost
three-quarters are performers upon stringed instruments, and it is
this very large proportion of strings that gives the orchestral tone
its characteristic smoothness, its infinite possibilities of dynamic
shading, its almost unbelievable agility, and, of course, its
inimitable sonority. The wind instruments are useful chiefly in
supplying variety of color, and also in giving the conductor the
possibility of occasionally obtaining enormous power by means of which
to thrill the hearer at climacteric points.

Our reason for supplying the above information is mainly in order to
direct attention to the small proportion of wind (and especially of
brass) instruments, and to warn the amateur conductor not to admit too
large a number of cornets and trombones to his organization, lest the
resulting effect be that of a band rather than that of an orchestra.
If there are available a great many wind instruments and only a few
strings, it will probably be better to admit only a few of the best
wind instrument players to the orchestra (about two cornets and one
trombone) and to organize a band in order to give the rest of the
players an opportunity for practice.[26] It will probably be necessary
for the conductor to warn his wind players to aim at a more mellow
tone than they use when playing in a band, in order that the brass
tone may blend with the string tone. In the case of the reed
instruments, this will sometimes mean a thinner reed in orchestra work
than is used in bands.

[Footnote 26: In making plans for the organization of a group of wind
instrument players into a band, it should be noted by the conductor
that here the entire harmony must be supplied by the individual
instruments (no piano being used) thus making it necessary to have
alto, tenor, and baritone saxhorns in addition to cornets, clarinets,
flutes, and trombones. The tuba is also almost indispensable, while
the inclusion of two or three saxophones will greatly increase the
mellowness of the effect as well as providing an additional color to
make the tonal textures more interesting.]


In dealing with any ensemble group that includes wind instruments, the
conductor must master the intricacies involved in the subject of
_transposing instruments_, and although this book is not the place to
get such technical knowledge as was referred to in the introductory
paragraph of this chapter, yet perhaps a brief explanation of the most
important points will not be wholly out of place, since we are writing
more especially from the standpoint of the amateur.

By a transposing instrument we mean one in the case of which the
performer either plays from a part that is written in a different key
from that of the composition, or that sounds pitches an octave higher
or lower than the notes indicate. Thus, _e.g._, in a composition
written in the key of E-flat, and actually played in that key by the
strings, piano, _et cetera_, the clarinet part would probably be
written in the key of F, _i.e._, it would be transposed a whole step
upward; but, of course, the actual tones would be in the key of
E-flat. The player, in this case, would perform upon a B-flat
clarinet--_i.e._, a clarinet sounding pitches a whole step lower than
indicated by the notes. (It is called a B-flat clarinet because its
fundamental gives us the pitch B-flat--this pitch being a whole-step
lower than C; and it is because the pitch sounded is a whole step
_lower_ that the music has to be transposed a whole step _higher_ in
order to bring it into the correct key when played.) In the case of
the clarinet in A, the pitches produced by the instrument are actually
a minor third lower than the notes indicate (A is a minor third lower
than C, just as B-flat is a whole-step lower). In writing music for
clarinet in A, therefore, the music will need to be transposed upward
a minor third in order that when played it may be in the right key;
just as in the case of the clarinet in B-flat, it has to be transposed
upward a whole-step.

"Clarinet or cornet in B-flat" means, therefore, an instrument that
sounds pitches a whole-step lower than written; "clarinet or cornet in
A" means one that sounds pitches a minor third lower than written;
"horn in F" means an instrument sounding pitches a perfect fifth lower
than written (because F is a perfect fifth below C); while the
"clarinet in E-flat" sounds pitches a minor third higher than written.
Whether the pitches sounded are higher or lower than the notes
indicate will have to be learned by experience or study.

If the passage marked Fig. 1 were to be orchestrated so as to give
the highest voice to the clarinet and the lowest to the horn, the
clarinet and horn parts would appear as shown in Fig. 2.

[Music: Fig. 1]

[Music: Fig. 2

Clarinet in B-[flat]

Horns in F]

In order to make this information more specific, we add a table
showing the keys of the original and transposed parts. The practical
band man expresses the substance of this table tersely by saying,
"subtract 3 sharps or 2 flats."

C               D                 B-flat
G               B-flat            A
D               F                 A
A               C                 A
E               G                 A
B               D                 A
F-sharp         A                 A
C-sharp         E                 A
F               G                 B-flat
B-flat          C                 B-flat
E-flat          F                 B-flat
A-flat          B-flat            B-flat
D-flat          E-flat            B-flat
G-flat          A-flat or A       B-flat or A
C-flat          D-flat            B-flat


The principal reasons for the use of transposing instruments are:
first, because certain sizes of instruments produce a better quality
of tone than others (_e.g._, the B-flat clarinet sounds better than
the C clarinet); and second, because it is easier to play in keys
having a smaller number of sharps and flats, and by transposing the
parts to other keys, we can usually get rid of several sharps or

In the case of performers on the clarinet, each player is necessarily
provided with two instruments (an A and a B-flat--the C clarinet being
almost obsolete, and the E-flat being used only in military bands);
but in playing upon the brass wind instruments the same instrument may
be tuned in various keys, either by means of a tuning slide or by
inserting separate _shanks_ or _crooks_, these latter being merely
additional lengths of tubing by the insertion of which the total
length of the tube constituting the instrument may be increased, thus
throwing its fundamental pitch into a lower key.

In order to gain facility in dealing with transposed parts, the
amateur is advised to try his hand at arranging simple music (hymn
tunes, folk songs, easy piano pieces, _et cetera_) for his group of
players, transposing the parts for clarinets, cornets, _et cetera_,
into the appropriate keys. In this way he will also get an insight
into the mysteries of instrumental combination that cannot be secured
in any other way.


The first difficulty that the conductor of an amateur ensemble group
usually encounters is that the instruments owned by his players are
tuned according to various pitch standards; and he is very likely to
find at his first rehearsal that his first-clarinet player has an
instrument tuned in "high pitch," _i.e._, what is commonly known as
concert pitch (about one half step above standard), while his
second-clarinet player has an instrument in "low pitch," _i.e._,
international, a´ having 435 vibrations per second. (There is also a
third pitch which is used by many of the standard symphony
orchestras--this pitch being based upon a vibration rate of 440 for
a´). If the conductor attempts to have his orchestra perform under
these conditions, disaster will surely overtake him, and he will not
only find his ears suffering tortures, but will be more than likely to
hear uncomplimentary remarks from the neighbors, and will be fortunate
indeed not to be ordered on to the next block or the next town by the
police force! The difficulty arises, of course, because the oboe,
English horn, clarinet, and other wood-wind instruments are built in a
certain fixed pitch, and since the length of the tube cannot be
altered, they must either play in the pitch intended or else not at
all. In the case of the clarinet and flute, the pitch can be altered a
very little by pulling out one of the joints slightly (the tube is
made in several sections) thus making the total length slightly
greater and the pitch correspondingly lower; but when this is done the
higher tones are very apt to be out of tune, and in general, if the
player has an instrument tuned in high pitch, he cannot play with an
ensemble group having low-pitched instruments, especially when the
piano supplies the fundamental harmony. In the case of the brass
instruments, a tuning slide is usually provided, and the same
instrument can therefore be utilized in either low or high pitch

[Footnote 27: "High pitch" is employed mostly in bands; the reason for
its use being that the wind instruments are much more brilliant when
tuned to the higher pitch. It is encouraging to be able to state,
however, that more and more instruments are being built in
"philharmonic pitch" (a´ 440), and the conductor who is organizing a
band or orchestra is advised to see to it that all players who are
purchasing new instruments insist upon having them built in this

[Sidenote: TUNING]

The conductor of an amateur ensemble group will find it very greatly
to his advantage to be able to tune the various instruments, or at
least to help the players to do it accurately. This involves not
merely a mechanical knowledge of what to do to the instrument to
change its pitch, but, what is much more important, a very high degree
of pitch discrimination on the conductor's part. It is at this latter
point that assistance is most often necessary, and the conductor who
can tell his cornet player when he is just a shade high or low, and
can determine precisely when the violinist has his strings tuned to an
absolutely perfect fifth, will have far less trouble with out-of-tune
playing than otherwise; for a great deal of sharping and flatting
(particularly in the case of wind instruments) is the result of
inaccurate tuning.

[Sidenote: BOWING]

Since an orchestra contains such a large proportion of stringed
instruments it will be very greatly to the interest of the conductor
to take up the study of some instrument belonging to the violin
family, and to learn to play it at least a little. If this is
altogether impracticable at the beginning, the next best thing for him
to do is to study bowing, learning not only the bowing signs and their
meaning, but familiarizing himself thoroughly with the principles
underlying the art. For this purpose some good work on bowing should
be studied, but meanwhile a few words on the subject at this point
will give the absolute beginner at least a small amount of
indispensable information. The signs commonly employed in music for
violin, viola, violoncello, and double-bass, to indicate various
manners of bowing, are as follows:

     [down-bow symbol] Down-bow: _i.e._, from nut to point.

     [up-bow symbol] Up-bow: _i.e._, from point to nut.

     [slur symbol] Slurred: _i.e._, all notes under the sign
     played in one bow.

     [slur over staccato symbol] Staccato: _i.e._, all notes in
     one bow, but the tones separated.

The ordinary staccato mark ([dot staccato symbol] or [wedge staccato
symbol]) means a long quick stroke, either up or down as the case may
be. The absence of slurs indicates a separate stroke of the bow for
each tone. Sometimes the player is directed to use the lower half, the
upper half, or the middle of the bow, such directions being given by
printing the words "lower half," _et cetera_, above the passage, or by
giving the initials of these words (sometimes in German). When no
bowing is indicated, a phrase beginning with a weak beat commonly has
an up-bow for the first tone, while one beginning on a strong beat
has a down-bow; but this principle has many exceptions. It is perhaps
needless to state that correct phrasing in the case of the stringed
instruments depends upon the employment of suitable bowing; and since
the first violin part is most prominent and most important in
orchestral music, it becomes the business of the conductor to observe
most carefully the bowing of his concert-master and to confer with him
about possible changes in bowing wherever necessary. It will save a
great deal of confusion if players understand that the bowing is to be
exactly as indicated in the score unless a change is definitely made.
The first player in each group in point of position on the platform is
called the "principal," and is supposed to be the most skilful
performer in that section; and he is responsible, in conference with
the conductor when necessary, for selecting the best bowing, _et
cetera_, all others in the group watching him, and all phrasing as he
does. In actual practice, this means that the players at the second
desk bow like those at the first, those at the third desk follow those
at the second, _et cetera_. Absolute uniformity is thus secured in
each section. It should perhaps be remarked at this point that when
different groups are playing the same phrase, _e.g._, violoncellos and
basses, or second violins and violas, the bowing must be uniform in
the two sections, if absolute uniformity of phrasing is to result.

In addition to the bowing signs explained on page 103, the conductor
should also be familiar with certain other directions commonly found
in music for stringed instruments. Some of the most important of
these, together with their explanations, are therefore added.

     _Pizzicato_ (_pizz._) (pluck the string instead of bowing)

     _Col arco_ (or _arco_) (play with the bow again)

     _Con sordino_, or }
     _Avec sourdine_   } (affix the mute to the bridge)

     _Senza sordino_, or }
     _Sans sourdine_     } (remove the mute)

     _Divisi_ (_div._) (divide, _i.e._, let some of the players
     take one of the two tones indicated and the remainder of them
     the other one. This direction is of course used only in case
     two or more notes appear on the staff for simultaneous
     performance. It is customary to divide such passages by
     having the players seated on the side next the audience take
     the higher tone, while the others take the lower. If the
     section is to be divided into more than two parts, the
     conductor must designate who is to play the various tones.)


Reading an orchestral score is a matter for the professional rather
than for the amateur; and yet the great increase during recent years
in the number of amateur orchestras probably means that more and more
of these groups will continue their practice until they are able to
play a more difficult class of music--this involving the necessity on
the part of their conductors of learning to read an orchestral score.
For this reason a few suggestions upon _score reading_ are added as a
final paragraph in this chapter, and an example of a score is supplied
at the end of the book--Appendix B (p. 166.)

The main difficulties involved in reading a full score are: first,
training the eye to read from a number of staffs simultaneously and
assembling the tones (in the mind or at the keyboard) into chords; and
second, transposing into the actual key of the composition those parts
which have been written in other keys and including these as a part of
the harmonic structure. This latter difficulty may be at least
partially overcome by practice in arranging material for orchestra as
recommended on page 101; but for the first part of the task, extensive
practice in reading voices on several staffs is necessary. The student
who is ambitious to become an orchestral conductor is therefore
advised, in the first place, not to neglect his Bach during the period
when he is studying the piano, but to work assiduously at the two- and
three-part inventions and at the fugues. He may then purchase
miniature scores of some of the string quartets by Haydn, Mozart, and
Beethoven, training himself to read all four parts simultaneously,
sometimes merely trying to hear mentally the successive harmonies as
he looks at the score, but most often playing the parts on the piano.
After mastering four voices in this way, he is ready to begin on one
of the slow movements of a Haydn symphony.

In examining an orchestral score, it will be noted at once that the
string parts are always together at the bottom of the page, while the
wood-wind material is at the top. Since the strings furnish the most
important parts of the harmonic structure for so much of the time, our
amateur will at first play only the string parts, with the possible
addition of the flute, oboe, and certain other non-transposed voices a
little later on. But as he gains facility he will gradually be able to
take in all the parts and to include at least a sort of summary of
them all in his playing. The student is advised to purchase a number
of the Haydn and Mozart symphonies either in the form of pocket
editions or in the regular conductor's score, and to practise on these
until he feels quite sure of himself. By this time he will be ready to
try his hand at a modern score, which will be found not only to
contain parts for more instruments, but many more divided parts for
the strings. Meanwhile, he is, of course, taking every possible
opportunity of attending concerts given by symphony orchestras, and is
begging, borrowing, or buying the scores of as many of the
compositions as possible, studying them in advance, and taking keen
delight in following them at the performance; perhaps even imagining
himself to be the conductor, and having visions of changes in
interpretation that he would like to make if he were directing. As the
result of several years of this sort of study, even an amateur may get
to the point where he is able to conduct an orchestra from a full
score with some degree of skill, and hence with some little
satisfaction both to himself and to the performers.


_Note:_ The arrangement of instruments here indicated is essentially
that found in a modern orchestral score. The ranges given represent
practical orchestral usage. Additional tones possible for highly
skilled performers or on instruments with certain special keys (like
the low _b_ of the flute) are shown in brackets.]



[Sidenote: THE PROBLEM]

In taking up the special problems of conducting involved in directing
a church choir, we shall first of all need to consider the dual nature
of church music--its religio-artistic aspect, and in studying the
matter from this standpoint we shall soon discover that most of the
difficulties that have encompassed church music in the past can be
traced directly or indirectly to a conflict or a lack of balance
between these two factors. The churchman has not been sufficiently
interested in the _art_ side of church music, while the music
director, organist, and singers have all too frequently been not only
entirely out of sympathy with the religious work of the church, but
have usually been wholly ignorant concerning the purpose and
possibilities of music in the church service. The result in most
churches at the present time is either that the music is vapid or even
offensive from the art standpoint; or else that it emphasizes the
purely artistic side so strongly that it entirely fails to perform its
function as an integral part of a service whose _raison d'être_ is, of
course, to inculcate religious feeling. "The church wishes for worship
in music, but not for the worship of music," is said to have been the
statement of Father Haberl at the Saint Cecilia Conference in Mainz
(1884).[28] And it is indeed a far cry from this demand to the very
evident deification of music that exists in many of our modern city
churches, with their expensive soloists and their utter failure to
cause music to minister as "the handmaid of religion." The problem is
not a new one, and in a book written about a century ago the author

     The guiding rule which ought always to be present to the
     mind of a clergyman should also be held in mind by all good
     musicians who would help the church's object, and not employ
     the sacred building merely as a place where all kind of
     sounds that tickle the ear can be heard. All kinds of music
     are suitable for sacred use that do not raise secular
     associations. A _Largo_, an _Adagio_, a _Grave_, an
     _Andante_, an _Allegro_, a fugal or a non-fugal composition
     can all be performed in the Church but should one and all be
     of a staid and dignified character throughout, elevated and
     sober, and of such a nature that any preacher of note could
     say: "This splendid music is a fitting introduction to my
     discourse"; or "After such singing my lips had better be
     closed, and the spirit left to its own silent worship."

[Footnote 28: Quoted by Curwen on the title page of _Studies in
Worship Music_ (second series).]

[Footnote 29: Thibaut, _Purity in Music_, translated by Broadhouse, p.

A distinguished modern writer voices the same thought in the following

     The singing of the choir must be contrived and felt as part
     of the office of prayer. The spirit and direction of the
     whole service for the day must be unified; the music must be
     a vital and organic element in this unit.

[Footnote 30: Dickinson, _Music in the History of the Western Church_,
p. 401.]

But in most churches music does not function in this ideal way and in
many cases (especially in non-liturgical churches) there is no unity
whatever in the service, and the music is evidently both performed and
listened to from a purely art standpoint; or else it is so crude and
inartistic as to be actually painful to the worshiper with refined

[Sidenote: THE REMEDY]

What is to be the remedy for this state of affairs? Or is there no
remedy, and must we go on, either enduring tortures artistically, or
suffering spiritually? We are not omniscient, but we venture to assert
that conditions might be caused to improve by the adoption of several
changes of procedure that are herewith recommended.

     1. Educate the minister musically during his general and
     professional training, causing him not only to acquire a
     certain amount of technical musical ability, but attempting
     also to cultivate in him that intangible something which we
     call musical taste. A few seminaries--notably the Hartford
     Theological Seminary and the Boston University Department of
     Religious Education--are doing pioneer work along this line,
     but they are the exception rather than the rule, and the
     thing must be done by all if the desired result is to obtain
     in the future.

     2. Encourage the organization of chorus choirs composed
     largely of those who belong to or attend the church and are
     therefore vitally interested in its work.

     3. Select more churchly music, _i.e._, a type of music which
     when appropriately rendered will tend to bring about a mood
     of worship. This will often mean a simpler style of music;
     it may mean more _a cappella_ singing; and it undoubtedly
     implies music that is fundamentally _sincere_. That many of
     our modern sacred solos and anthems fail in this latter
     respect must be evident to any one who has given the matter
     any thought whatever.

     4. Let the church make an attempt to secure as its musical
     director one who possesses a type of seriousness and
     high-mindedness that will make him sympathetic with what the
     church is trying to do, thus enabling him to minister to the
     people through music even as the priest or preacher does
     through words of consolation or inspiration. We admit that
     this sort of a man (who is at the same time unimpeachable in
     his musical authority) is often hard to find; but that the
     two elements are incompatible, and that such a type of choir
     director cannot be trained, we absolutely refuse to believe.
     If the church sufficiently recognizes the failure of music
     as now frequently administered, and makes a strong enough
     demand for leaders of a different type, they are bound to be


Having trained our minister from a musical standpoint, organized a
chorus choir, selected appropriate music, and secured the right type
of choir leader, let us now make a strenuous attempt to correlate the
musical with the non-musical parts of the service; and if we succeed
in our effort at this point also, our task will be at least in sight
of completion. This desirable correlation will only result if both
minister and musician are willing to work together amicably, each
recognizing the rights of the other, and both willing to give in upon
occasion in order to make the service as a whole work out more
smoothly. Many humorous stories are told, the point of which is based
upon the absolute incongruity of the various parts of the church
service. The writer remembers most vividly an incident that occurred
during the first year of the Great War, in the church in which he was
at that time the choirmaster. The choir had just finished singing an
anthem written by an English composer as a prayer for peace,[31] the
concluding strains being sung to the words "Give peace, O God, give
peace again! Amen." As the choir sat down, after an effective
rendition of the anthem, there was a hush in the congregation, showing
that the message of the music had gone home to the hearers. But a
moment later the spell was rudely broken, as the minister rose, and in
a stentorian voice proclaimed the text of the day--"For I come not to
bring peace into the world, but a sword."

[Footnote 31: John E. West, _O God of Love, O King of Peace_.]

The responsibility in this case rested as much upon the shoulders of
the choir director as upon those of the preacher, for he should at
least have taken the trouble to acquaint his coworker with the nature
of the anthem, so that some reference might have been made to the
subject in either the prayer or scripture reading or in some of the
hymns, if not in the sermon itself. It is perhaps not always feasible
to have sermon and anthem agree absolutely in subject, but it is
entirely possible to avoid such occurrences as that cited above, if
even a small amount of thought is given to the matter of correlation
each week. Surely the choir leader could at least provide the minister
with the titles of the anthems and solos to be rendered.


In advocating a return to the volunteer chorus choir instead of the
salaried solo quartet, we are well aware of the disadvantages that are
likely to accompany any attempt along this line. We know that the
chorus choir composed of volunteers is often poorly balanced, usually
contains for the most part indifferent voices and often unskilful
readers, and frequently consists largely of giddy young girls, whose
main object in singing in the choir is obviously not based upon their
interest in the spiritual advancement of the community! But we believe
that under the right type of leadership most of these bad conditions
will in time disappear, and that, through the chorus choir, music may
well become a vitalizing force in the life of many a church in which a
revitalizing process is badly needed.

In order to make ourselves perfectly clear, let us summarize at this
point the qualifications especially needed by the conductor of a
volunteer church chorus.

     1. He must be a reasonably good musician, possessing not
     only familiarity with music in general, but in particular an
     intimate knowledge of vocal music, and knowing at least the
     fundamentals of voice training.

     2. He must understand the purpose of church music, and must
     be in sympathy with the religious work of the church.

     3. He must be young in spirit, and thus be able to take a
     sympathetic attitude toward the members of his choir as
     human beings, and particularly as human beings who are still
     young, inexperienced, and frequently thoughtless. This
     implies, of course, a certain amount of personal magnetism
     and this is as necessary in the volunteer choir for holding
     the membership together and securing regular attendance as
     it is for inspiring them musically.


One of the chief difficulties encountered in more or less all choral
organizations, and especially in the volunteer church choir, is the
tendency on the part of many members to do all they possibly can in
the way of dress, actions, loud singing, and lack of voice blending,
to call attention to themselves as individuals. This not only results
in frequent offense to the eye of the worshiper because of clashing
color combinations (the remedy for which is, of course, some uniform
method of dressing or perhaps a vestment), but what is even more
serious, it often causes a lack of voice blending that seriously
interferes with both the religious and the artistic effect of the
music. For this latter state of affairs there is no remedy except to
learn to listen to individual voices, and when some voice does not
blend with the rest, to let the person who owns it know that he must
either sing very softly or else stop entirely. This can often be
accomplished by a look in the direction of the singer who is causing
the trouble; but if this does not suffice, then a private admonition
may be necessary--and here we have a situation in which the diplomacy
and the good humor of the conductor must be exercised to the utmost,
especially if the offending voice belongs to a prominent member of,
and perhaps a liberal contributor to, the church. In such a case, one
may sometimes, without unduly compromising one's reputation for
veracity, inform the offending member that his method of singing is
very bad indeed for his voice, and if persisted in will surely ruin
that organ!

Needless to say, the conductor must exercise the utmost tactfulness in
dealing with such matters as these, but it is our belief that if he
insists strongly enough in the rehearsal upon a unified body of tone
from each part, and backs this up by private conversations with
individual members, with perhaps a free lesson or two in correct voice
placement, or even the elimination of one or two utterly hopeless
voices, a fine quality of voice blending will eventually result. It
might be remarked at this point that such desirable homogeneity of
tone will only eventuate if each individual member of the choir
becomes willing to submerge his own voice in the total effect of his
part; and that learning to give way in this fashion for the sake of
the larger good of the entire group is one of the most valuable social
lessons to be learned by the young men and women of today. It is the
business of the choir leader to drive home this lesson whenever
necessary. It is also his task to see to it that no member of his
choir by his actions causes any interference with the worship of the
congregation. In plain speech, it is his duty to see to it that choir
members conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to their position,
and that they do not by whispering, laughing, note writing, and other
similar frivolities, hinder in any way the development of a spirit of
reverent devotion on the part of the congregation.


Another type of undesirable individualism is to be found in the case
of the church solo singer. We have no quarrel with the sacred solo
when sung in such a way as to move the hearts of the congregation to a
more sincere attitude of devotion; and we are entirely willing to
grant that the sacred solo has the inherent possibility of becoming as
pregnant with religious fervor as the sermon itself, and may indeed,
because of its esthetic and emotional appeal, convey a message of
comfort or of inspiration to many a heart that might remain untouched
by the appeal of a merely intellectual sermon. But it has been our
observation that the usual church solo very seldom functions in this
way; that the singer usually considers it only as an opportunity to
show how well he can perform; that he seldom thinks very much about
the words; that the selections are usually not chosen because they are
appropriate to the remainder of the service but because they are
"effective" or perhaps because they are well adapted to the voice or
the style of the singer; and that our congregations have grown so
accustomed to this sort of thing that the performance of a sacred solo
is now usually listened to, commented upon, and criticized in exactly
the same way in the church service as would be the case at a concert

Instead of thinking, "I am delivering a _message_," the singer is only
too palpably saying to us, "I am singing a _solo_, don't you think I
am doing it well?"

The remedy for this condition of affairs is the same as that which we
have been recommending for church music in general, and before church
solo singing can be commended in very glowing terms as a method of
assisting the congregation to become more thoughtful, more fervent in
their devotional attitude, we must have:

     1. More appropriate selections.

     2. A more sincerely reverent and a more thoroughly
     non-egoistic attitude on the part of the soloists.

Because these things are so difficult of attainment under present
conditions our feeling is that, all in all, chorus music is probably
considerably more effective as a vehicle for making a religio-esthetic
appeal, than solo singing.


The public schools are doing very much more in the way of teaching
music than formerly, and in many places consistent work is being
carried on as the result of which the children now in school are
learning to read music notation somewhat fluently, to use their voices
correctly, and are cultivating as well a certain amount of taste in
music. Because of this musical activity in the public schools, our
task of organizing and directing volunteer church choirs should be
very much simplified in the near future. Community singing will help
at this point also, and the very much larger number of boys and girls
who are receiving training as the result of the development of high
school music, ought to make it considerably easier to secure the right
type of choir director in the future than has been the case in the
past. As a result of the present widespread interest in music and
music study, it should be possible also to get very much better
congregational singing, and withal to interest the congregation (and
the preacher!) in a better type of music. All in all, the outlook is
extremely promising and we venture to predict a great improvement in
all that pertains to church music during the next quarter century.


Let us close this discussion by urging the choir director to remember
that the most important music, at least in the Protestant church, is
the congregational singing; and to consider the fact that if music is
to help people worship without becoming a substitute for worship, it
will be necessary for him not only to inspire his choir with high
ideals of church music, but also to devise means of inducing the
congregation to take part in the singing to a much greater extent than
is now the case in most churches. It is usually true that the finer
the choir, and the more elaborate the accompaniment, the less hearty
is the congregational singing. If there is to be steady growth in the
efficiency of chorus choirs, therefore, it will not be surprising if
congregational singing sometimes falls off in volume and enthusiasm.
The reasons for such a decline are: First, because the people take no
responsibility for the singing, knowing that it will go well whether
they join in or not; second, because the choir often sings so well
that the people would rather listen than take part; third, because the
director frequently stands with his back to the congregation and
apparently does not expect much singing from them; and fourth, because
the choir leader often insists upon a highly musical interpretation of
the hymns, this involving the carrying over of phrases, _et cetera_.
These latter things may well be done after a long period of training,
but in the early stages the way to arouse interest in congregational
singing is not to insist too strongly upon the purely artistic
aspects, but to remember that most of the congregation are musically
untrained and not only do not see the point to all these refinements,
but will frequently become discouraged and stop singing entirely if
too many of them are insisted upon. It will be well also to apply to
this type of group singing the principles already discussed in
connection with community "sings," having the congregation sing alone
part of the time, having a stanza sung as a solo occasionally, making
use of antiphonal effects, and in other ways introducing variety and
placing more responsibility upon the congregation; and, most important
of all, calling attention more frequently to the words of the hymns,
either the preacher or the choir leader sometimes giving the stories
of their origin, and in other ways attempting to interest the
congregation in the meaning of the hymn as a poem. Perhaps a more
careful selection of the hymns would help also, especially if a
consistent attempt were to be made to give the congregation an
opportunity of practising the more musical tunes, so that they would
come to feel familiar with them and at ease in singing them. If the
choir director will take the trouble to go through the hymn book and
select forty or fifty really fine hymns and tunes that are not being
used, suggesting to the minister that these be sung sometimes in
connection with the more familiar ones, he will very often find the
minister more than willing to meet him half way in the matter. In
these various ways the choir leader and the minister may by consistent
cooperation inspire the congregation to the point where the vocal
response is as hearty and as _heartfelt_ as it used to be in the olden



[Sidenote: THE PROBLEMS]

The two special problems connected with directing a boy choir are:

     1. Becoming intimately acquainted with the compass,
     registers, possibilities, and limitations of the boy's

     2. Finding out how to manage the boys themselves so as to
     keep them good-natured, well-behaved, interested, and hard
     at work.

To these two might be added a third--namely, the problem of becoming
familiar with the liturgy of the particular church in which the choir
sings, since male choirs are to be found most often in liturgical
churches. But since this will vary widely in the case of different
sects, we shall not concern ourselves with it, but will be content
with giving a brief discussion of each of the other points.


The child voice is not merely a miniature adult voice, but is an
instrument of quite different character. In the first place, it is not
nearly so individualistic in timbre as the adult voice, and because of
the far greater homogeneity of voice quality that obtains in
children's singing, it is much easier to secure blending of tone, the
effect being that of one voice rather than of a number of voices in
combination. This is a disadvantage from the standpoint of variety of
color in producing certain emotional effects, but it is in some ways
an advantage in the church service, especially in churches where the
ideal is to make the entire procedure as impersonal and formal as
possible. In the second place, the child voice is good only in the
upper register--the chest tones being throaty, unpleasant, and
frequently off pitch. In the third place, the child voice is immature,
and his vocal organs are much more likely to be injured by
overstraining. When directed by a competent voice trainer, however,
the effect of a large group of children singing together is most
striking, and their pure, fresh, flutelike tones, combined with the
appearance of purity and innocence which they present to the eye,
bring many a thrill to the heart and not infrequently a tear to the
eye of the worshiper.


In many European churches, and in a considerable number in the United
States, it is customary to have boys with unchanged voices sing the
soprano part, men with trained falsetto voices (called male altos)
taking the alto,[32] while the tenor and bass parts are, of course,
sung by men as always. Since the child voice is only useful when the
tones are produced with relaxed muscles, and since the resonance
cavities have not developed sufficiently to give the voice a great
deal of power, it is possible for a few men on each of the lower parts
to sing with from twenty to thirty boys on the soprano part. Six
basses, four tenors, and four altos will easily balance twenty-five
boy sopranos, if all voices are of average power.

[Footnote 32: In many male choirs the alto part is sung by boys; but
this does not result in a fine blending of parts, because of the fact,
as already noted in the above paragraph, that the boy's voice is good
only in its upper register. It may be of interest to the reader to
know that in places where there are no adult male altos, these voices
may be trained with comparative ease. All that is needed is a baritone
or bass who has no particular ambitions in the direction of solo
singing (the extensive use of the falsetto voice is detrimental to the
lower tones); who is a good reader; and who is willing to vocalize in
his falsetto voice a half hour a day for a few months. The chief
obstacle that is likely to be encountered in training male altos is
the fact that the men are apt to regard falsetto singing as


There is one difference between the mixed choir of adult voices and
the boy choir that should be noted at the outset by the amateur. It is
that, in the former, the choir leader is working with mature men and
women, most of whom have probably learned to use their voices as well
as they ever will; but in directing a boy choir, the sopranos must be
taught not only the actual music to be sung at the church service,
but, what is much more difficult, they must be trained in the
essentials of correct breathing, tone placement, _et cetera_, from the
ground up. Hence the absolute necessity of the choirmaster being a
voice specialist. He need not have a fine solo voice, but he must know
the essentials of good singing, and must be able to demonstrate with
his own voice what he means by purity of vowel, clearness of
enunciation, _et cetera_. These things are probably always best taught
by imitation, even in the case of adults; but when dealing with a
crowd of lively American boys, imitation is practically the only
method that _can_ be used successfully. We shall not attempt to give
information regarding this highly important matter in the present
volume, because it is far too complex and difficult to be taken up in
anything short of a treatise and because, moreover, the art of singing
cannot be taught in a book. The student who is ambitious to become the
director of a boy choir is advised, first, to study singing for a
period of years, and second, to read several good books upon the
training of children's voices. There are a number of books of this
character, some of the best ones being included in the reference list
in Appendix A (p. 164).


The child's larynx grows steadily up to the age of about six, but at
this time growth ceases, and until puberty the vocal cords, larynx,
and throat muscles develop in strength and flexibility, without
increasing appreciably in size. This means that from six until the
beginning of adolescence the voice maintains approximately the same
range, and that this is the time to train it as a _child voice_.

The question now arises, why not use the girl's voice in choirs as
well as the boy's?--and the answer is threefold. In the first place,
certain churches have always clung to the idea of the _male_ choir,
women being refused any participation in what originally was strictly
a priestly office; in the second place, the girl arrives at the age of
puberty somewhat earlier than the boy, and since her voice begins to
change proportionately sooner, it is not serviceable for so long a
period, and is therefore scarcely worth training as a child voice
because of the short time during which it can be used in this
capacity; and in the third place, the boy's voice is noticeably more
brilliant between the ages of seven or eight and thirteen or fourteen,
and is therefore actually more useful from the standpoint of both
power and timbre. If it were not for such considerations as these, the
choir of girls would doubtless be more common than the choir of boys,
for girls are much more likely to be tractable at this age, and are in
many ways far easier to deal with than boys.

At the age of six, the voices of boys and girls are essentially alike
in timbre; but as the boy indulges in more vigorous play and work, and
his muscles grow firmer and his whole body sturdier, the
voice-producing mechanism too takes on these characteristics, and a
group of thirty boys ten or twelve years old will actually produce
tones that are considerably more brilliant than those made by a group
of thirty girls of similar age.


To the novice in the handling children's voices, the statement that
the typical voice of boys and girls about ten years of age easily
reaches a´´ and frequently b´´ or c´´´ [music notation] will at first
seem unbelievable. This is nevertheless the case, and the first thing
to be learned by the trainer of a boy choir is therefore to keep the
boys singing high, beginning with the higher tones [music notation]
and vocalizing downward, instead of _vice versa_. The main reason for
the necessity of this downward vocalization is what is known as the
_movable break_. In an adult voice, the change from a low register to
a higher one always takes place at approximately the same place in the
scale; but the child's voice is immature, his vocal organs have not
formed definitely established habits, and the chest register is often
pushed upward to c´´, d´´, or even e´´ [music notation]. This is
practically always done in singing an ascending scale loudly, and the
result is not only distressing to the listener, but ruinous to the
voice. In former days this type of singing was common in our public
schools, the result being that most boys honestly thought it
impossible to sing higher than c´´ or d´´ [music notation] this being
the limit beyond which it was difficult to push the chest voice. The
head voice was thus not used at all, and the singing of public school
children in the past has in most cases been anything but satisfactory
from the standpoint of tonal beauty. But most supervisors of music
have now become somewhat familiar with the child voice, and are
insisting upon high-pitched songs, soft singing, and downward
vocalization, these being the three indispensable factors in the
proper training of children's voices. The result is that in many
places school children are at the present time singing very well
indeed, and the present growing tendency to encourage public
performance by large groups of them makes available a new color to the
composer of choral and orchestral music, and promises many a thrill to
the concert-goer of the future.

It is the head register, or _thin_ voice, that produces the pure,
flutelike tones which are the essential charm of a boy choir, and if
chest tones are to be employed at all, they must be made as nearly as
possible as are the head tones, thus causing the voice to produce an
approximately uniform timbre in the entire scale. This may be
accomplished with a fair degree of ease by a strict adherence to the
three principles of procedure mentioned in the above paragraph. In
fact these three things are almost the beginning, middle, and end of
child-voice training, and since they thus form the _sine qua non_ of
effective boy-choir singing, we shall emphasize them through

     1. The singing must be soft until the child has learned to
     produce tone correctly _as a habit_.

     2. Downward vocalization should be employed in the early
     stages, so as to insure the use of the head voice.

     3. The music should be high in range, in order that the
     child may be given as favorable an opportunity as possible
     of producing his best tones.

When these principles are introduced in either a boy choir or a public
school system, the effect will at first be disappointing, for the tone
produced by the boy's head voice is so small and seems so
insignificant as compared with the chest voice which he has probably
been using, that he is apt to resent the instruction, and perhaps to
feel that, you are trying to make a baby, or worse yet, a girl, out of
him! But he must be encouraged to persist, and after a few weeks or
months of practice, the improvement in his singing will be so patent
that there will probably be no further trouble.


Boys are admitted to male choirs at from seven or eight to ten or
twelve years of age, but are often required to undergo a course of
training lasting a year or more before being permitted to sing with
the choir in public. For this reason, if for no other, the director of
a boy choir must be a thoroughly qualified voice trainer. He, of
course, takes no voice that is not reasonably good to start with, but
after admitting a boy with a naturally good vocal organ it is his task
so to train that voice as to enable it to withstand several hours of
singing each day without injury and to produce tones of maximal beauty
as a matter of habit. But if the choir leader is not a thoroughly
qualified vocal instructor, or if he has erroneous ideals of what
boy-voice tone should be, the result is frequently that the voice is
overstrained and perhaps ruined; or else the singing is of an insipid,
lifeless, "hooty" character, making one feel that an adult mixed choir
is infinitely preferable to a boy choir.[33]

[Footnote 33: Even when an ideal type of tone is secured, there is
considerable difference of opinion as to whether the boy soprano is,
all in all, as effective as the adult female voice. Many consider that
the child is incapable of expressing a sufficient variety of emotions
because of his lack of experience with life, and that the boy-soprano
voice is therefore unsuited to the task assigned it, especially when
the modern conception of religion is taken into consideration. But to
settle this controversy is no part of our task, hence we shall not
even express an opinion upon the matter.]

Adolescence begins at the age of thirteen or fourteen in boys, and
with the growth of the rest of the body at this time, the vocal organs
also resume their increase in size, the result being not only longer
vocal cords and a correspondingly lower range of voice, but an
absolute breaking down of the habits of singing that have been
established, and frequently a temporary but almost total loss of
control of the vocal organs. These changes sometimes take place as
early as the thirteenth year, but on the other hand are frequently not
noticeable until the boy is fifteen or sixteen, and there are on
record instances of boys singing soprano in choirs until seventeen or
even eighteen. The loss of control that accompanies the change of
voice (with which we are all familiar because of having heard the
queer alternations of squeaking and grumbling in which the adolescent
boy so frequently indulges), is due to the fact that the larynx, vocal
cords, _et cetera_, increase in size more rapidly than the muscles
develop strength to manipulate them, and this rapid increase in the
size of the parts (in boys a practical doubling in the length of the
vocal cords) makes it incumbent upon the choir trainer to use extreme
caution in handling the voices at this time, just as the employer of
adolescent boys must use great care in setting them at any sort of a
task involving heavy lifting or other kinds of strain. In the public
schools, where no child is asked to sing more than ten or twelve
minutes a day, no harm is likely to result; but in a choir which
rehearses from one to two hours each day and frequently sings at a
public service besides, it seems to be the consensus of opinion that
the boy is taking a grave risk in continuing to sing while his voice
is changing.[34] He is usually able to sing the high tones for a
considerable period after the low ones begin to develop; but to
continue singing the high tones is always attended with considerable
danger, and many a voice has undoubtedly been ruined for after use by
singing at this time. The reason for encouraging the boy to keep on
singing is, of course, that the choirmaster, having trained a voice
for a number of years, dislikes losing it when it is at the very acme
of brilliancy. For this feeling he can hardly be blamed, for the most
important condition of successful work by a male choir is probably
permanency of membership; and the leader must exercise every wile to
keep the boys in, once they have become useful members of the
organization. But in justice to the boy's future, he ought probably in
most cases to be dismissed from the choir when his voice begins to

[Footnote 34: Browne and Behnke, in _The Child's Voice_, p. 75, state
in reply to a questionnaire sent out to a large number of choir
trainers, singers, _et cetera_, that seventy-nine persons out of one
hundred fifty-two stated positively that singing through the period of
puberty "causes certain injury, deterioration, or ruin to the after
voice." In the same book are found also (pp. 85 to 90) a series of
extremely interesting comments on the choirmaster's temptation to use
a voice after it begins to change.]

Let us now summarize the advice given up to this point before going on
to the consideration of our second problem:

     1. Have the boys sing in high range most of the time. The
     actual compass of the average choir boy's voice is probably
     g--c´´´ but his best tones will be between e´ and g´´ [music
     notation]. An occasional a´´ or b´´ or a d´ or c´ will do no
     harm, but the voice must not remain outside of the range
     e´--g´´ for long at a time.

     2. Insist upon soft singing until correct habits are
     established. There is a vast difference of opinion as to
     what soft singing means, and we have no means of making the
     point clear except to say that at the outset of his career
     the boy can scarcely sing too softly. Later on, after
     correct habits are formed, the singing may, of course, be
     louder, but it should at no time be so loud as to sound

     3. Train the voice downward for some time before attempting
     upward vocalization.

     4. Dismiss the boy from the choir when his voice begins to
     change, even if you need him and if he needs the money which
     he receives for singing.


The second special problem mentioned at the beginning of this chapter
is the management of the boys owning the voices which we have just
been discussing; and this part of the choirmaster's task is
considerably more complex, less amenable to codification, and requires
infinitely more art for its successful prosecution. One may predict
with reasonable certainty what a typical boy-voice will do as the
result of certain treatment; but the wisest person can not foresee
what the result will be when the boy himself is subjected to any
specified kind of handling. As a matter of fact, there is no such
thing as a _typical_ boy, and even if there were, our knowledge of boy
nature in general has been, at least up to comparatively recent times,
so slight that it has been impossible to give directions as to his


In general, that choir director will succeed best in keeping his boys
in the choir and in getting them to do good work, who, other things
being equal, keeps on the best terms with them personally. Our advice
is, therefore, that the prospective director of a choir of boys find
out just as much as possible about the likes and dislikes, the
predilections and the prejudices of pre-adolescent boys, and
especially that he investigate ways and means of getting on good terms
with them. He will find that most boys are intensely active at this
stage, for their bodies are not growing very much, and there is
therefore a large amount of superfluous energy. This activity on their
part is perfectly natural and indeed wholly commendable; and yet it
will be very likely to get the boy into trouble unless some one is at
hand to guide his energy into useful channels. This does not
necessarily mean making him do things that he does not like to do; on
the contrary, it frequently involves helping him to do better,
something that he already has a taste for doing. Space does not permit
details; but if the reader will investigate the Boy Scout movement,
the supervised playground idea, and the development of school
athletics, as well as the introduction of manual training of various
sorts, trips to museums of natural history, zoölogical and botanical
gardens, _et cetera_, school "hikes" and other excursions, and similar
activities that now constitute a part of the regular school work in
many of our modern educational institutions, he will find innumerable
applications of the idea that we are presenting; and he will perhaps
be surprised to discover that the boy of today _likes_ to go to
school; that he applies at home many of the things that he learns
there, and that he frequently regards some teacher as his best friend
instead of as an arch enemy, as formerly. These desirable changes have
not taken place in all schools by any means, but the results of their
introduction have been so significant that a constantly increasing
number of schools are adopting them; and public school education is to
mean infinitely more in the future than it has in the past because we
are seeing the necessity of looking at things through the eyes of the
pupil, and especially from the standpoint of his life outside of and
after leaving the school. Let the choir trainer learn a lesson from
the public school teacher, and let him not consider the boy to be
vicious just because he is lively, and let him not try to repress the
activity but rather let him train it into useful channels. Above all,
let him not fail to take into consideration the boy's viewpoint,
always treating his singers in such a way that they will feel that he
is "playing fair." It has been found that if boys are given a large
share in their own government, they are not only far easier to manage
at the time, but grow enormously in maturity of social ideals, and are
apt to become much more useful citizens because of such growth.
Placing responsibility upon the boys involves trusting them, of
course, but it has been found that when the matter has been presented
fairly and supervised skilfully, they have always risen to the
responsibility placed upon their shoulders. We therefore recommend
that self-government be inaugurated in the boy choir, that the boys be
allowed to elect officers out of their own ranks, and that the rules
and regulations be worked out largely by the members themselves with a
minimum of assistance from the choirmaster.

Let us not make the serious mistake of supposing that in order to get
on the good side of boys we must make their work easy. Football is not
easy, but it is extremely popular! It is the motive rather than the
intrinsic difficulty of the task that makes the difference. The thing
needed by the choir director is a combination of firmness (but not
crossness) with the play spirit. Let him give definite directions, and
let these directions be given with such decision that there will never
be any doubt as to whether they are to be obeyed; but let him always
treat the boys courteously and pleasantly, and let him always convey
the idea that he is not only _fair_ in his attitude toward them, but
that he is attempting to be _friendly_ as well.

Work the boys hard for a half hour or so, therefore, and then stop for
five minutes and join them in a game of leapfrog, if that is the order
of the day. If they invite you to go with them on a hike or picnic,
refuse at your peril; and if you happen to be out on the ball ground
when one side is short a player, do not be afraid of losing your
dignity, but jump at the chance of taking a hand in the game. Some one
has said that "familiarity breeds contempt, only if one of the persons
be contemptible," and this dictum might well be applied to the
management of the boy choir. On the other hand, it is absolutely
necessary to maintain discipline in the choir rehearsal, and it is
also necessary to arouse in the boys a mental altitude that will cause
them to do efficient work and to conduct themselves in a quiet and
reverent manner during the church service; hence the necessity for
rules and regulations and for punishments of various kinds. But the
two things that we have been outlining are entirely compatible, and
the choir director who plays with the boys and is hailed by them as a
good fellow will on the whole have far less trouble than he who holds
himself aloof and tries to reign as a despot over his little kingdom.


In conclusion, a word should perhaps be added about various plans of
remunerating the boys for their singing. In some large churches and
cathedrals a choir-school is maintained and the boys receive food,
clothing, shelter, and education in return for their services; but
this entails a very heavy expense, and in most smaller churches the
boys are paid a certain amount for each rehearsal and service, or
possibly a lump sum per week. The amount received by each boy depends
upon his voice, his experience, his attitude toward the work, _et
cetera_, in other words, upon his usefulness as a member of the choir.
Attempts have often been made to organize a boy choir on the volunteer
basis, but this plan has not usually proved to be successful, and is
not advocated.

When the boys live in their own homes and there are Sunday services
only, the usual plan is to have them meet for about two rehearsals
each week by themselves, with a third rehearsal for the full choir.
Often the men have a separate practice also, especially if they are
not good readers.

If the organization is to be permanent, it will be necessary to be
constantly on the lookout for new voices, these being trained partly
by themselves and partly by singing with the others at the rehearsals
through the period of weeks or months before they are permitted to
take part in the public services. In this way the changing voices that
drop out are constantly being replaced by newly trained younger boys,
and the number in the chorus is kept fairly constant.




Correct voice placement, the full use of the resonance cavities, good
habits of breathing, and other details connected with what is commonly
termed _voice culture_, cannot be taught by correspondence; neither
can the conductor be made an efficient voice trainer by reading books.
But so many choral conductors are failing to secure adequate results
from their choruses because of their ignorance of even the
fundamentals of singing, that it has been thought best to include a
brief presentation of a few of the most important matters with which
the conductor ought to be acquainted. In discussing these things it
will only be possible for us to present to the student of conducting
the problems involved, leaving their actual working out to each
individual. The chief difficulty in connection with the whole matter
arises from the fact that the conductor needs in his work certain
qualities of musicianship that are more apt to result from
instrumental than from vocal training, the education of the
instrumentalist usually emphasizing harmony, ear-training, form, and
in general, the intellectual aspect of music; while that of the
vocalist too often entirely leaves out this invaluable type of
training, dealing only with voice culture and in general the
interpretative side of music study. The vocalist who attempts to
conduct is therefore frequently criticized for his lack of what is
called "solid musical training"; but the instrumentalist-conductor as
often fails to get adequate results in working with singers because of
his utter ignorance of vocal procedure; and this latter type of
failure is probably as productive of poor choral singing as the
former. This chapter is, of course, written especially for the
instrumentalist, and our advice to him is not merely to read books
about singing, but to study singing itself, whether he is interested
in cultivating his own voice for solo purposes or not. It might be
remarked in this connection that aside from the considerations that we
have been naming, the conductor who can sing a phrase to his orchestra
or chorus and thus show by imitation exactly what shading, _et
cetera_, he wishes, has an enormous advantage over him who can only
convey his ideas by means of words.


Probably the first thing about singing to be learned by the student of
conducting is that good voice production depends upon using the full
capacity of the lungs instead of merely the upper portion. Hence the
necessity of holding the body easily erect as a matter of habit, with
chest up, and with the diaphragm alternately pushing the viscera away
in order to enable the lungs to expand downward, and then allowing the
parts to come back into place again, as the air is in turn expelled
from the lungs. By practising deep breathing in this way the actual
capacity of the lungs may be considerably increased, and breathing
exercises have therefore always formed part of the routine imposed
upon the vocal student. A deep breath involves, then, a pushing down
of the diaphragm and a pushing out of the lower ribs, and not merely
an expansion of the upper part of the chest. The singer must form the
habit of breathing in this way at all times. To test breathing, the
singer may place the hands about the waist on the sides of the thorax
(fingers toward the front, thumbs toward the back) and see whether
there is good side expansion of the ribs in inhaling, and whether in
taking breath the abdomen swells out, receding as the air is expelled.
We have always felt that a few minutes spent at each chorus rehearsal
in deep breathing and in vocalizing would more than justify the time
taken from practising music; but such exercises should not be
undertaken unless the conductor understands singing and knows exactly
what their purpose is.

It is important that the conductor should understand the difference
between the use of the singer's _full breath_ which we have been
describing, and his _half breath_. The full breath is taken at
punctuation marks of greater value, at long rests, before long
sustained tones, and, in solo singing, before long trills or cadenzas.
The half breath is usually taken at the lesser punctuation marks and
at short rests, when it is necessary to replenish the supply of air in
as short a time as possible, in order not to interrupt the _legato_
any more than is absolutely necessary.


The next point to be noted is that, having provided as large a supply
of air as possible every particle of it must now be made use of in
producing tone; in the first place, in order that no breath may be
wasted, and in the second place, in order that the purity of the tone
may not be marred by non-vocalized escaping breath. This implies
absolute breath control, and the skilful singer is able to render
incredibly long phrases in one breath, not so much because his lungs
have more capacity, but because every atom of breath actually
functions in producing vocal tone. And because of the fact that no
breath escapes without setting the cords in vibration, the tone is
clear, and not "breathy." The secret of expressive singing in
sustained melody is absolutely steady tone combined with a perfect
_legato_, and neither of these desirable things can be achieved
without perfect breath control, this matter applying to choral singing
as forcefully as it does to solo work.

[Sidenote: RESONANCE]

The next point to be noted is that the carrying power and quality of a
voice depend far more upon the use made of the resonance cavities than
upon the violence with which the vocal cords vibrate. Every musical
instrument involves, in its production of tone, a combination of three

     1. The vibrating body.

     2. The force which sets the body in vibration.

     3. The reinforcing medium (the sound board of a piano, the
     body of a violin, _et cetera_.)

In the case of the human voice, the vocal cords (or, as they might
more properly be termed, the vocal _bands_) constitute the vibrating
body; the air expelled from the lungs is the force which sets the
cords in vibration; and the cavities of the mouth, nose, and to a
lesser extent, of the remainder of the head and even of the chest, are
the reinforcing medium--the resonator. A small voice cannot of course
be made into a large one; but by improving its placement, and
particularly by reinforcing it with as much resonance power as
possible, it may be caused to fill even a large auditorium. This
involves such details as keeping the tongue down, allowing part of the
air to pass through the nose, focusing the tone against the roof of
the mouth just back of the teeth, opening the mouth exactly the right
distance, forming the lips in just the right way, _et cetera_. The
result is that instead of sounding as though it came from the throat,
the tone apparently comes from the upper part of the mouth just back
of the teeth; and instead of seeming to be forced out, it appears to
flow or float out without the slightest effort on the part of the
singer. A forced or squeezed-out tone is always bad--bad for the voice
and bad for the ear of the listener!


Another point to be noted by the conductor is that one sings upon
vowels and not upon consonants; that most of the consonants are in
fact merely devices for interrupting the vowel sounds in various
ways; and that good tone depends largely upon the ability of the
singer to select the best of several different sounds of the vowel and
to hold this sound without any change in quality during the entire
time that the tone is prolonged. It is comparatively easy to make a
good tone with some vowels, but extremely difficult with others, and
it is the singer's task so to modify the vowel that is unfavorable as
to make it easier to produce good tone in using it. But while thus
modifying the actual vowel sound, the integrity of the vowel must at
least be sufficiently preserved to enable the listener to understand
what vowel is being sung. All this is particularly difficult in
singing loudly, and it is largely for this reason that the vocal
student is required by his teacher to practise softly so much of the
time. Some vowels have two parts (_e.g._, i = ä + [=e]), and here it
is the singer's task to sustain the part upon which the better tone
can be made, sounding the other part only long enough to produce a
correct total effect.

[Sidenote: CONSONANTS]

As noted above, the consonants are in general merely devices for
cutting off the flow of vowel sound in various ways, and one of the
most difficult problems confronting the singer in his public
performances is to articulate the consonants so skilfully that the
words shall be easy to follow by the audience, and at the same time to
keep the vowel sounds so pure and their flow so uninterrupted that the
singing may be perfect in its tone quality and in its _legato_. It is
because this matter presents great difficulty that the words of the
singer with a good _legato_ can so seldom be understood, while the
declamatory vocalist who presents his words faultlessly is apt to sing
with no _legato_ at all. The problem is not insoluble, but its
solution can only be accomplished through years of study under expert
guidance. Vocal teachers in general will probably disagree with us;
but it is our opinion that in choral performance at least, the _tone_
rather than the _words_ should be sacrificed if one or the other has
to give way, and the choral conductor is therefore advised to study
the use of the consonants most carefully, and to find out how to make
use of every means of securing well enunciated words from his body of

[Sidenote: RELAXATION]

The next point to be noted is the importance of what vocal teachers
refer to as the "movable lower jaw," this, of course, implying
absolute (but controlled) relaxation of all muscles used in singing.
Without relaxation of this sort, the tone is very likely to be badly
placed, the sound seeming to come from the throat, and the whole
effect being that of tone squeezed out or forced out instead of tone
flowing or floating out, as described in a previous paragraph. This
difficulty is, of course, most obvious in singing the higher tones;
and one remedy within the reach of the choral conductor is to test all
voices carefully and not to allow anyone to sing a part that is
obviously too high. But in addition to this general treatment of the
matter, it will often be possible for the director to urge upon his
chorus the necessity of relaxation in producing tone, thus reminding
those who tighten up unconsciously that they are not singing properly,
and conveying to those who are ignorant of the matter at least a hint
regarding a better use of their voices.


A vocal register has been defined as "a series of tones produced by
the same mechanism." This means that in beginning with the lowest tone
of the voice and ascending the scale, one comes to a point where
before going on to the next scale-tone, a readjustment of the vocal
organs is necessary, this change in the action of the larynx and vocal
cords being _felt_ by the singer and _heard_ by the listener. The
point at which the readjustment takes place, _i.e._, the place where
the voice goes from one register into another, is called the _break_;
and one of the things the voice trainer tries to do for each pupil is
to teach him to pass so skilfully from one register to another that
these breaks will not be noticeable to the hearer--the voice
eventually sounding an even scale from its lowest to its highest tone.
There is considerable difference of opinion as to the number of
registers existing in any one voice, but perhaps the majority of
writers incline to the view that there are three; the chest or lower,
the thin or middle, and the small or head. It should be noted,
however, that the readjustment in the action of the vocal cords
referred to above probably takes place only when passing from the
lowest register to the next higher one, and that such changes in
action as occur at other points are more or less indefinite and
possibly even somewhat imaginary. Authorities differ as to just what
the change in mechanism is in passing from the chest register to the
middle one; but the most plausible explanation seems to be that in the
lowest register, the change in pitch from a lower tone to the next
higher one is accomplished at least partly by _stretching_ the vocal
bands more tightly, and that when the limit of this stretching process
has been reached, the cords relax slightly, and from this point on
each higher tone is made by _shortening_ the vibrating portion of the
cords; in other words, by decreasing the length of the glottis (the
aperture between the vocal cords). This point may become clearer if we
compare the process with tuning a violin string. The string may be a
third or a fourth below its normal pitch when the violinist begins to
tune his instrument, but by turning the peg and thus stretching the
string tighter and tighter, the tone is raised by small degrees until
the string gives forth the pitch that it is supposed to sound. But
this same string may now be made to play higher and higher pitches by
pressing it against the fingerboard, thus shortening the vibrating
portion more and more. The tuning process may be said to compare
roughly with the mechanism of the chest register of the human voice;
while the shortening of the string by pressing it against the
fingerboard is somewhat analogous to what takes place in the higher
registers of the voice.

We have now enumerated what seem to us to be the most essential
matters connected with vocal procedure; and if to such information as
is contained in the foregoing paragraphs the conductor adds the
knowledge that the _messa di voce_ (a beautiful vocal effect produced
by swelling a tone from soft to loud and then back again) is to be
produced by increase and decrease of breath pressure and not by a
greater or lesser amount of straining of the throat muscles; that
_portamento_ (gliding by infinitely small degrees in pitch from one
tone to another), although a valuable and entirely legitimate
expressional effect when used occasionally in a passage where its
employment is appropriate, may be over-used to such an extent as to
result in a slovenly, vulgar, and altogether objectionable style of
singing; and that whereas the _vibrato_ may imbue with virility and
warmth an otherwise cold, dead tone and if skilfully and judiciously
used may add greatly to the color and vitality of the singing, the
_tremolo_ is on the other hand a destroyer of pitch accuracy, a
despoiler of vocal idealism, and an abhorrence to the listener; if our
conductor knows these and other similar facts about singing, then he
will not run quite so great a risk of making himself ridiculous in the
eyes of the singers whom he is conducting as has sometimes been the
case when instrumentalists have assumed control of vocal forces. But
let us emphasize again the fact that these things cannot be learned
from a book, but must be acquired through self-activity, _i.e._, by
actual experience in singing; hence the importance of vocal study on
the part of the prospective choral conductor.

In conclusion, let us enumerate the main points involved in what is
called good singing--these points applying to choral music as directly
as to solo performance.

     1. The intonation must be perfect; _i.e._, the tones
     produced must be neither sharp nor flat, but exactly true to

     2. The tone must be attacked and released exactly at the
     right pitch; _i.e._, the voice must not begin on some
     indefinite lower tone and slide up, or on a higher tone and
     slide down, but must begin on precisely the right pitch.

     3. The tone must be absolutely steady, and there must be no
     wavering, no _tremolo_, no uncertainty. This means absolute
     breath control.

     4. The tones must follow one another without break, unless
     the character of the music demands detached effects; in
     other words, there must be a perfect _legato_. The tones
     must also follow each other cleanly, unless the character of
     the music makes the use of _portamento_ desirable.

     5. The singer must feel the mood of each song, and must sing
     as he feels, if he is to perform with real expression. This
     is a much more vital matter in song interpretation than the
     mere mechanical observation of _tempo_ and _dynamic_

     6. The text must be enunciated with sufficient clarity to
     enable the audience to catch at least the most important
     ideas presented. This involves not only the _complete_
     pronunciation of each syllable instead of the slovenly
     half-pronunciation so commonly heard; but implies as well
     that the sounds be formed well forward in the mouth instead
     of back in the throat.

If the singing of a soloist or a chorus can meet the test of these
requirements, the singing may be called good.




In constructing a concert program for either a solo or an ensemble
performance, and in the case of both vocal and instrumental music, at
least five important points must be taken into consideration:

     1. Variety.
     2. Unity.
     3. Effective arrangement.
     4. Appropriate length.
     5. Adaptability to audience.

[Sidenote: VARIETY]

We have given variety first place advisedly; for it is by changing the
style and particularly through varying the emotional quality of the
selections that the conductor or performer will find it most easy to
hold the attention and interest of the audience. In these days the
matter of keeping an audience interested presents far greater
difficulty than formerly, for our audiences are now much more
accustomed to hearing good music than they used to be, and a
performance that is moderately good and that would probably have held
the attention from beginning to end in the olden days will now often
be received with yawning, coughing, whispering, early leaving, and a
spirit of uneasiness permeating the entire audience, especially during
the latter part of the program. The change of etiquette brought about
by the phenomenal popularization of the moving picture theater has
doubtless had something to do with this change in the attitude of our
audiences; the spread of musical knowledge and the far greater
intelligence concerning musical performance manifested by the average
audience of today as compared with that of fifty years ago is also
partly responsible; but the brunt of the charge must be borne by our
habitual attitude of nervous hurry, our impatience with slow processes
of any kind, and the demand for constant change of sensation that is
coming to characterize Americans of all ages and classes. It is
doubtless unfortunate that conditions are as they are; but since the
attitude of our audiences has admittedly undergone a decided change,
it behooves the program maker to face conditions as they actually
exist, rather than to pretend that they are as he should like them to
be. Since our audiences are harder to hold now than formerly, and
since our first-class performers (except possibly in the case of
orchestral music) are probably not greatly above the level of the
first-class performers of a generation ago (although larger in
number), it will be necessary to keep the listener interested by
employing methods of program making, which, although they have always
been not only entirely legitimate but highly desirable, are now
absolutely necessary. As stated above, the obvious way to help our
audience to listen to an entire concert is to provide variety of
material--a heavy number followed by a light one; a slow, flowing
_adagio_ by a bright snappy _scherzo_; a tragic and emotionally taxing
song like the _Erl-King_ by a sunny and optimistic lyric; a song or a
group of songs in major possibly relieved by one in minor; a
coloratura aria by a song in cantabile style; a group of songs in
French by a group in English; a composition in severe classic style by
one of romantic tendency, _et cetera_. These contrasting elements are
not, of course, to be introduced exactly as they are here listed, and
this series of possible contrasts is cited rather to give the amateur
maker of programs an idea of what is meant by contrast rather than to
lay down rules to be followed in the actual construction of programs.

[Sidenote: UNITY]

But while contrast is necessary to keep the audience from becoming
bored or weary, there must not be so much variety that a lack of unity
is felt in the program as a whole. It must be constructed like a
symphony--out of material that has variety and yet that all belongs
together. In other words, the program, like a musical composition,
must achieve _unity in variety_; and this is the second main problem
confronting the conductor or performer who is planning a concert. It
is impossible to give specific directions as to how unity is to be
secured, for this is a matter to be determined almost wholly upon the
basis of taste, and taste is not subjectable to codification. The most
that we can do for the amateur at this point, as at so many others, is
to set before him the main problem involved, and in constructing a
program, this is undoubtedly to provide variety of material and yet to
select numbers that go well together and seem to cohere as a unified

[Sidenote: LENGTH]

Our third question in making a program of musical works is, how long
shall it be? The answer is, "It depends upon the quality of the
audience." An audience composed largely of trained concert-goers, many
of whom are themselves musicians, can listen to a program composed of
interesting works and presented by a first-rate artist even though it
extends through a period of two and a half hours, although on general
principles a two-hour program is probably long enough. But one made up
mostly of people who have had very little musical training, who read
little except the daily newspaper and the lightest sort of fiction,
and whose chief amusement is probably attendance upon the picture
show,--such an audience must not be expected to listen to a program
that is either too heavy or too long; and our judgment is that for
such a group a program an hour and a half long is probably more
suitable than one of two or two and a half hours. Our feeling is,
furthermore, that the "tired business man" would not object so
strenuously to attending the serious musical performances to which his
wife urges him to go if some of these matters were considered more
carefully by the artist in planning the program! But here again, of
course, we have a matter which depends altogether upon the kind of
music presented, whether the entire program is given by one artist or
whether there are several performers, whether the whole program is of
one kind of music or whether there is variety of voice and instrument,
whether the performers are amateurs or professionals, and upon whether
the performer is an artist of the first rank and is able by his
perfection of technique, his beauty of tone, and his emotional verve,
to hold his audience spellbound for an indefinite length of time, or
whether he belongs to the second or third rank of performers and is
able to arouse only an average amount of interest. Our purpose in
including a discussion of the matter is principally in order that we
may have an opportunity of warning the amateur conductor not to cause
an audience which would probably give favorable consideration to a
short program, to become weary and critical by compelling them to sit
through too long a performance. This is particularly true in the case
of amateur performance; and since this book is written chiefly for the
amateur director, it may not be out of order to advise him at this
point to plan programs not more than an hour or an hour and a quarter
long, at first. It is far better to have the audience leaving the
auditorium wishing the program had been longer than to have them
grumbling because it is too long.


Our fourth problem has already been presented in discussing the other
three, for it is because of the necessity of adapting the performance
to the audience that we have insisted upon variety, unity, and
reasonable length. Many a concert has turned out to be an utter fiasco
because of failure on the part of the program maker to consider the
type of people who were to listen to it; and although on such
occasions it is customary for the performer to ascribe his failure to
the stupidity of the audience, it must nevertheless be acknowledged
that the fault is more commonly to be laid at the door of the one who
planned the event. A program composed of two symphonies and an
overture or two, or of two or three Beethoven sonatas, is not a
suitable meal for the conglomerate crowd comprising the "average
audience"; indeed it is doubtful whether in general it is the best
kind of diet for any group of listeners. Here again we cannot give
specific directions, since conditions vary greatly, and we must
content ourselves once more with having opened up the problem for
thought and discussion.


Having selected musical material that is varied in content and yet
appropriate for performance upon the same program; having taken into
consideration what kind of music is adapted to our audience and how
much of it they will probably be able to listen to without becoming
weary; our final problem will now be so to arrange the numbers that
each one will be presented at the point in the program where it will
be likely to be most favorably received, and will make the most
lasting impression upon the auditors.

In general, of course, the heavier part of the program should usually
come in the first half and the lighter part in the second, for the
simple reason that it is at the beginning that our minds and bodies
are fresh and unwearied, and since we are able to give closer
attention at that time we should accordingly be supplied with the more
strenuous music when we are best able to digest it. But although this
is doubtless true in most cases, we have often noticed that audiences
are restless during the first part of the concert, and frequently do
not get "warmed up" to the point of giving close attention to the
performance until ten or fifteen minutes after the program begins, and
sometimes not until the second half has been reached. For this reason,
and also to cover the distraction arising from the entrance of the
ubiquitous late-comer, it seems best to us that some shorter and
lighter work be placed at the very beginning of the program--possibly
an overture, in the case of a symphony concert. The phenomenon here
alluded to has an exact parallel in the church service. When we enter
the church, we are thinking about all sorts of things connected with
our daily life, and it takes us some little time to forget these
extraneous matters and adjust ourselves to the spirit of a church
service, and particularly to get into the appropriate mood for
listening to a sermon. The organ prelude and other preliminary parts
of the service have as their partial function, at least, the
transference of our thoughts and attitudes from their former chaotic
and egoistic state to one more appropriate to the demands of the more
serious part of the service to follow. Somewhat the same sort of thing
is found in the case of the majority of people who go to a concert
hall for an evening's performance, and although the end to be attained
is of course altogether different, yet the method should probably be
somewhat the same. Our feeling is therefore that there ought usually
to be some comparatively light number at the beginning of the concert
program in order that we may be assisted in getting into the listening
mood before the heavier works are presented. On the other hand, an
artist often plunges into a difficult composition at the very
beginning of the concert, and by his marvelous technique or his
tremendous emotional vitality sweeps his audience immediately into an
attitude of rapt attention; all of which proves again that art is
intangible, subtle, and ever-varying--as we stated at the beginning.


In concluding our very brief statement of program-making, it may be
well to mention the fact that small details often have a good deal to
do with the failure of audiences to follow the program with as keen
attention as might be desired. These details are often overlooked or
disdained merely because they seem too trifling to make it worth the
artist's while to notice them; but by seeing to it that the concert
hall is well warmed (or well cooled), that it is well lighted and well
ventilated; that the doors are closed when the first number begins,
and that no one is allowed to enter during the performance of any
number; that there are no long waits either at the beginning or
between numbers; that unnecessary street and other outside noises are
stopped or shut out so far as practicable; and that the printed
program (if it has more than one sheet) is so arranged that the pages
do not have to be turned while compositions are being performed--by
providing in advance for someone who will see to all these little
matters, the artist may often be rewarded by a fine type of
concentrated attention which would not be possible if the minds of the
individuals comprising the audience were being distracted by these
other things.

The printer too bears no small responsibility in this matter of having
an audience follow a program with undiminished attention from
beginning to end, and there is no doubt that the tastefully printed
page (and particularly if there are explanatory remarks concerning the
composer, style, meaning of the composition, _et cetera_) will usually
be followed with much keener attention than one the parts of which
have merely been thrown together. The reason for this we shall leave
for some one else to discuss--possibly some writer of the future upon
"the psychology of the printed page."




In chorus directing, it is of the utmost importance that conductor and
accompanist not only understand one another thoroughly, but that the
relationship between them be so sympathetic, so cordial, that there
may never be even a hint of non-unity in the ensemble. The unskilful
or unsympathetic accompanist may utterly ruin the effect of the most
capable conducting; and the worst of it is that if the accompanist is
lacking in cordiality toward the conductor, he can work his mischief
so subtly as to make it appear to all concerned as if the conductor
himself were to blame for the ununified attacks and ragged

[Footnote 35: On the other hand, the conductor sometimes shifts the
responsibility for mishaps to the accompanist when the latter is in no
wise to blame, as, _e.g._, when the organ ciphers or a page does not
turn properly.]


In order to obviate the disadvantages that are likely to arise from
having a poor accompanist, the conductor must exercise the greatest
care in choosing his coworker. Unless he knows of some one concerning
whose ability there is no question, the best plan is probably to have
several candidates compete for the position; and in this case, the
points to be especially watched for are as follows:

     1. Adequate technique.
     2. Good reading ability.
     3. Sympathetic response to vocal _nuance_.
     4. Willingness to cooperate and to accept suggestions.

Of these four, the last two are by no means the least important; and
sometimes it is better to choose the person who has less skill in
reading or technique but who has sufficient innate musical feeling to
enable him not only to follow a soloist's voice or a conductor's beat
intelligently, but even to anticipate the dynamic and tempo changes
made by singer or conductor.

The minds of conductor and accompanist must work as one. In stopping
his chorus for a correction, it should be possible for the conductor
to assume that the accompanist has followed him so carefully and is in
such close musical rapport with him that, before the conductor speaks,
the accompanist has already found the badly executed passage, and the
instant the conductor cites page and score, is ready to play the
phrase or interval that was wrongly rendered. The same sort of thing
ought of course to take place whenever there is a change of tempo, and
it is to be noted that in all these cases the accompanist must make a
_musical_ response to the conductor's interpretation, and not merely
an _obedient_ one.


Having chosen the best available person to do the accompanying, the
next thing in order will be to treat the accompanist in such a way
that he will always do his best and be a real help in causing the
chorus to produce effective results. Next to the conductor, the
accompanist is undoubtedly the most important factor in producing fine
choral singing; hence our reference to the accompanist as the
conductor's _coworker_. The first thing to note in connection with
getting the best possible help from the accompanist is that he shall
always be treated in a pleasant, courteous way, and the conductor must
learn at the very outset not to expect impossible things from him; not
to blame him for things that may go wrong when some one else is really
responsible; and in general, to do his utmost to bring about and to
maintain friendly, pleasant relations. This will mean a smile of
approval when the accompanist has done particularly well; it may
involve publicly sharing honors with him after a well rendered
performance; and it certainly implies a receptive attitude on the
conductor's part if the accompanist is sufficiently interested to make
occasional suggestions about the rendition of the music.

If you as conductor find it necessary to make criticisms or
suggestions to the accompanist, do this privately, not in the presence
of the chorus. Much of the sting of a criticism frequently results
from the fact that others have heard it, and very often if the matter
is brought up with the utmost frankness in a private interview, no bad
blood will result, but if a quarter as much be said in the presence of
others, a rankling wound may remain which will make it extremely
difficult for the conductor and accompanist to do good musical work
together thenceforth.


One of the best ways to save time at the rehearsal is to provide the
accompanist with the music in advance. Even a skilful reader will do
more intelligent work the first time a composition is taken up if he
has had an opportunity to go through it beforehand. This may involve
considerable trouble on the conductor's part, but his effort will be
well rewarded in the much more effective support that the accompanist
will be able to furnish if he has had an opportunity to look over the
music. When the accompanist is not a good reader, it is, of course,
absolutely imperative that he not only be given an opportunity to
study the score in advance, but that he be _required_ to do so. If in
such a case the conductor does not see to it that a copy of the music
is placed in the accompanist's hands several days before each
rehearsal, he will simply be digging his own grave, figuratively
speaking, and will have no one but himself to blame for the poor
results that are bound to follow.


If the accompaniments are played on the organ, the conductor will need
to take into consideration the fact that preparing and manipulating
stops, pistons, and combination pedals takes time, and he will
therefore not expect the organist to be ready to begin to play the
instant he takes his place on the bench; neither will he be
unreasonable enough to assume that the organist ought to be ready to
pass from one number to another (_e.g._, from a solo accompaniment to
a chorus) without being given a reasonable amount of time for
arranging the organ. The fact that in such a case the accompanist has
been working continuously, whereas the director has had an opportunity
of resting during the solo number, ought also to be taken into
consideration; and it may not be unreasonable for the organist to wish
for a moment's pause in order that he may adjust his mental attitude
from that demanded by the preceding number to that which is
appropriate to the number to follow. All this is especially to be
noted in performances of sacred music, in which no time is taken
between the numbers for applause. In any case, the least the conductor
can do is to watch for the organist to look up after he has prepared
the organ, and then to signal him pleasantly with a nod and a smile
that he is ready to go on with the next number. This will not only
insure complete preparedness of the organ, but will help "oil the
machinery" and keep relations pleasant.

The conductor of a church choir should remember that the organist has
probably studied and is familiar with the dynamic resources of his
instrument to a much greater extent than the conductor; and that many
times the organist is not depending upon his _ear_ in deciding the
amount of organ needed, so much as upon his _knowledge_ of what the
total effect will be in the auditorium. It is frequently impossible to
tell from the choir loft how loud or how soft the sound of the organ
is in the body of the house. The conductor, not knowing the dynamic
values of the various stop combinations as well as the organist, must
not presume to criticize the latter for playing too loudly or too
softly unless he has gone down into the auditorium to judge the effect
there. Even this is not an absolute guide, for the balance is very
likely to be different when the auditorium is full of people from what
it was when empty. Moreover, the amount of choral tone frequently
increases greatly under the stimulus of public performance. All in
all, therefore, a good organist should be permitted to use his own
judgment in this matter. In any case, do not resort to conspicuous
gestures to let him know that there is too much or too little organ.
He has probably discovered it as soon as you have, and will add or
subtract as soon as it can be done without making an inartistic break
in the dynamic continuity of the accompaniment. If a signal becomes
absolutely necessary, make it as inconspicuously as possible.


We have previously stressed the fact that the conductor must stand so
that his beat may be easily seen by all performers; and this matter is
of the utmost importance in connection with the accompanist. He must
be able to see you _easily_ if he is to follow your beat accurately;
further, he should be able to see your face as well as your baton, if
a really sympathetic musical relationship is to exist. This may appear
to be a small point, but its non-observance is responsible for many
poor attacks and for much "dragging" and "running away" on the part of

The sum and substance of the whole matter may be epitomized in the
advice, "Be courteous, considerate, and sensible in dealing with your
accompanist and verily thou shalt receive thy reward!"




Having now reviewed the various essentials in conducting from the
standpoint of public performance, we wish emphatically to state our
conviction that in many cases both choruses and orchestras have been
short-lived, being abandoned after a season or two of more or less
unsatisfactory work, directly as a result of the inefficient methods
used by the conductor in the rehearsal. In an earlier chapter (p. 18)
we noted that the successful conductor of the present day must possess
a personality combining traits almost opposite in their nature;
_viz._, _artistry_ and _organizing ability_. We were referring at that
time to business sense in general as needed by the conductor in
selecting works to be performed, deciding upon the place, duration,
and number of rehearsal periods, engaging artists to assist in the
public performances, and in general, seeing to it that the business
details of the organization are attended to in an efficient manner.
But such organizing ability is needed most of all in planning and
conducting the rehearsal, and there is no doubt that mediocre results
at the public performance and not infrequently the actual breaking up
of amateur organizations may be traced more often to the inability of
the conductor to make the best use of his time in the always
inadequate rehearsal hour than to any other source. It is for this
reason that we have thought best to devote an entire chapter to a
discussion of what might be termed "The Technique of the Rehearsal."


The word _efficiency_ has been used so frequently in recent years that
it has come to be in almost as bad odor as the word _artistic_, as
employed by the would-be critic of esthetic effects. This antipathy to
the word is perhaps most pronounced on the part of the artist, and
there has been a well-defined feeling on the part of a good many of us
that efficiency and advancement in art appreciation do not perhaps go
hand-in-hand as much as might be desired. Granting the validity of
this criticism of efficiency as a national ideal, it must nevertheless
be evident that the artist has in the past been far too little
concerned with life's business affairs, and that both he and his
family on the one hand, and those having business relations with him
on the other would be far better off if the artist would cultivate a
more businesslike attitude in his relationships with the rest of the
world. However this may be in general, it is certain that the
conductor of the present must take more definitely into consideration
what is going on outside the world of art; must recognize the fact
that this is now a busy world and that there are a great many
interesting things to do and a great many more distractions and
amusements than there were a half-century ago; and that if the members
of a chorus or orchestra (particularly in the case of an amateur
society) are to continue to attend rehearsals regularly and to keep up
their enthusiasm for the work of the organization, the conductor must
see to it that something tangible is accomplished not only during each
season, but in each and every practice hour, and that regular
attendance at the rehearsals does not cause the members to feel that
they are wasting time and energy.

This is, after all, the essence of scientific management--to
accomplish some desired result without any waste moves and without
squandering valuable material; and surely no artistic loss will be
involved if efficiency of this type is applied to conducting a musical
rehearsal. On the contrary, the application of such methods will
enable the conductor to secure a much higher degree of artistry in the
public performance because, by avoiding any waste of time in
rehearsing, he will be able to put the musicians through the music
more often, and thus not only arouse greater confidence on their part,
but be enabled to emphasize more strongly the interpretative, the
artistic aspect of the music. Most of the rehearsal hour is often
spent in drilling upon mere _correctness_ of tone and rhythm,
especially in the case of amateur organizations.

In order to make these matters as concrete and practical as possible,
we shall give in the remainder of this chapter a series of somewhat
unrelated suggestions about conducting an ensemble rehearsal, trusting
that the reader will forgive the didactic (and possibly pedantic)
language in which they are couched.


Do not make the mistake of attempting to study your score at the same
time that your singers or players are learning it. Study your music
exhaustively beforehand so that at the rehearsal you may know
definitely just what you are going to do with each selection and may
be able to give pointed directions as to its rendition. This will
enable you to look at your performers most of the time, and the
freedom from the score thus allowed will make your conducting very
much more effective and will enable you to stir your singers out of
their state of inertia very much more quickly. Weingartner, in writing
upon this point (with especial reference to the public performance)
says:[36] "He should know it [the score] so thoroughly that during the
performance the score is merely a support for his memory, not a fetter
on his thought." The same writer in another place quotes von Bülow as
dividing conductors into "those who have their heads in the score,
and those who have the score in their heads"!

[Footnote 36: Weingartner, _On Conducting_, p. 43.]

Study the individual voice parts, so as to find out so far as possible
beforehand where the difficult spots are and mark these with blue
pencil, so that when you want to drill on these places, you may be
able to put your finger on them quickly. It is very easy to lose the
attention of your performers by delay in finding the place which you
want them to practise. It is a good plan, also, to mark with blue
pencil some of the more important _dynamic_ and _tempo_ changes so
that these may be obvious to the eye when you are standing several
feet from the desk.

Decide beforehand upon some plan of studying each composition, and if
a number of works are to be taken up at any given rehearsal, think
over in advance the order in which they are to be studied. In brief,
make a plan for each rehearsal, writing it out if necessary, and thus
avoid wasting time in deciding what is to be done.

In case you are a choir director, learn also to plan your services
weeks or even months in advance,[37] and then keep working toward the
complete carrying out of your plan by familiarizing your musicians
with the material as far in advance of the public performance as
possible. In this way the music is _absorbed_, as it were, and the
singers and players are much more apt to feel at ease in performing it
than when it has been taken up at only one or two rehearsals.

[Footnote 37: The complete list of works to be given by leading
symphony orchestras during the entire season is usually decided upon
during the preceding summer, and somewhat the same procedure might
profitably be followed with a church choir or an amateur orchestra.]


It is impossible to conduct well unless you have the absolute
attention of every singer or player. Hence the discipline at all
rehearsals must be rather strict and the performers must be trained to
keep their eyes on you practically all the time. (In the case of
choral music, it would be well to have a great deal more of it
entirely committed to memory so that at the performance the singers
might be enabled to give the conductor their absolute attention.) You
have a perfect right to demand that all shall work industriously
during every working minute of the rehearsal hour and that there shall
be no whispering or fooling whatsoever, either while you are giving
directions, or while you are conducting. If you are unfortunate enough
to have in your organization certain individuals who do not attend to
the work in hand even after a private admonition, it will be far
better to drop them from the organization, for they are bound to do
more harm than good if they are retained. On the other hand, you will
recognize the temptation to whisper which the performer feels while
you are giving a long-winded explanation of some pet theory of yours,
and you will accordingly cut down the amount of talking you do to the
minimum. A good rule to follow is this: "_Talk little at the
rehearsal, but when you do talk, be sure that every one listens._"
Keep your performers so busy that they will have no time to think
about anything but the work in hand. Plan plenty of work so as to be
able to keep things moving through the entire hour. Better a rehearsal
conducted in this way and only one hour long, than a slow-moving,
boresome affair, two hours in length. If the tax of such concentrated
attention is too severe to be kept up constantly for an entire hour,
plan to have a five-minute intermission when everyone may talk and
laugh and thus relax. The author has found that with a body of amateur
singers, a ninety-minute rehearsal, with a five- to seven-minute
intermission in the middle, works very well indeed.


Do not shout at your chorus or orchestra if the members are noisy.
Wait until the noise subsides entirely before you begin to speak, and
address them in a quiet, dignified, authoritative way when you do
begin. Unless you have some pointed remark to make about the
rendition of the music, it is far better to give merely the place of
beginning without making any remarks at all. Securing quiet by a
prolonged rapping with the baton is a sign of weak discipline. Do not
rap at all until the music is distributed, the accompanist in his
place and ready to begin, your score open, and until you know exactly
what you are going to do first. Then let just a slight tap or two
suffice to notify everyone that the rehearsal is to begin at once.


In drilling on a difficult passage, it is usually better to stop at
the actual spot where the mistake occurs than to go on to the end and
then turn back. Find the exact spot that is causing trouble and
"reduce the area of correction to its narrowest limits," as one
writer[38] states it. It is to be noted that merely one repetition of
such a passage is usually of little avail. _It must be gone over
enough times to fix the correct method of rendition in mind and muscle
as a habit._ If a section sings a certain passage incorrectly twice
and then correctly only once, the chances are that the fourth time
will be like the first two rather than like the third. The purpose of
drilling on such a passage is to eradicate the wrong impression
entirely and substitute for it an entirely new habit at that point.
After learning a difficult tonal or rhythmic phrase in this way, be
sure to fit it into its environment before assuming that it has been
finally mastered. The difficulty in such passages often consists not
in performing the intervals or rhythms in isolation, but in doing them
while the other parts are going on.

[Footnote 38: Richardson, _The Choir-trainer's Art_, p. 156.]


In directing attention to some particular place in the score about
which you wish to speak, give the details of your direction always in
the same order, _viz._: (1) page, (2) score (or _brace_ if you
prefer), (3) measure, (4) beat. Thus _e.g._, "Page 47, second score,
fourth measure, beginning with the second beat." Give the direction
slowly and very distinctly, and then do not repeat it; _i.e._, get
your musicians into the habit of listening to you the first time you
say a thing instead of the second or third. Carrying out this plan may
result in confusing unpreparedness on the part of your singers or
players for a time or two, but if the plan is adhered to consistently
they will very soon learn to listen to your first announcement--and
you will save a large amount of both time and energy.


Ensemble music is frequently supplied with _rehearsal letters_ or
_numbers_, these enabling the performers to locate a passage very
quickly. When not printed in the score, it will often be a saving of
time for the conductor to insert such letters or numbers in his own
copy of the music in advance of the first rehearsal, asking the
members to insert the marks in their music as he dictates their
location by page and score, or by counting measures in the case of
orchestra music. These letters or numbers are best inserted with soft
red or blue pencil.


When a new composition is to be taken up, go through it as a whole a
few times, so as to give everyone a general idea of its content and of
the connection and relation of its parts. After this, begin to work at
the difficult spots that you have found, then when it begins to go
fairly well, work definitely for expressive rendition. You will of
course not expect ordinary performers to go through the composition
the first time in a very artistic fashion. If they keep going and do
not make too many mistakes, they will have done all that
non-professionals should be expected to do. Psychologists have found
as the result of careful investigation that the "whole method" of
study is much to be preferred to what might be termed the "part
method," because of the fact that a much clearer and closer
association between parts is thus formed, and there is no doubt but
that this point applies very forcibly to the study of music. In an
interview published in the _New York World_ in June, 1916, Harold
Bauer writes as follows about this matter as related to piano music:

     Now, in taking up a new work for the piano, the child could
     and should play right through every page from beginning to
     end for the purpose of obtaining a definite first impression
     of the whole. A mess would probably be made of it
     technically, but no matter. He would gradually discover just
     where the places were that required technical smoothing, and
     then by playing them over slowly these spots would be
     technically strengthened. By the time the composition was
     thoroughly learned the technique would be thoroughly
     acquired, too. Obtaining first a perfect mental picture of
     the whole, and afterward working out the details, is better
     than learning a work by starting with the details before
     gaining a broad impression of the composition as a whole.

This method of studying musical compositions is especially important
from the standpoint of _expression_. In many an instance, the source
of wrong interpretation (or of no interpretation at all) may be traced
directly to a method of studying the composition which has not
impressed the singers or players with its essential meaning and
spirit, and with the significance of the various details in relation
to the plan of the work as a whole. This is particularly true of
choral compositions, and in taking up such works, it may often be well
for the conductor to read aloud the entire text of the chorus that is
being studied in order that the attention of the singers may be
focused for a few moments upon the imagery conveyed by the words. Such
attention is frequently impossible while singing, because the minds of
the singers are intent upon the beauty or difficulty of the purely
musical aspects of the composition, and thus the so-called
"expression" becomes merely a blind and uninspired obedience to
certain marks like _piano_, _forte_, and _ritardando_--the real spirit
of interpretation being entirely absent.


Have the distribution and care of music so systematized that there
will be neither confusion nor waste of time in this part of the
rehearsal. In a professional organization there will of course be a
salaried librarian to see to such work, but it is entirely possible to
secure somewhat the same kind of results in an amateur body by having
two or three members elected or appointed for the task, these persons
serving either entirely without salary or being paid a purely nominal
sum. These librarians will then be expected to take the responsibility
of marking new music, of distributing and collecting it at such times
as may be agreed upon by librarian and conductor, and of caring for it
at concerts or at any other time when it is to be used.

It will be the duty also of the head librarian to keep a record of all
music loaned or rented, and to see that it is returned in good
condition. It would be well too if he kept a card index, showing just
what music is owned by the organization, the number of copies of each
selection, the price, the publisher, the date when purchased, _et
cetera_. Ask the librarians to come five or ten minutes before the
beginning of the rehearsal, and make it your business to provide one
of them with a slip having upon it the names or numbers of all the
selections to be used at that particular rehearsal. Keeping the music
in covers or in separate compartments of a cabinet, one of which will
hold all of the copies of a single selection, and having these
arranged alphabetically or numerically, will considerably facilitate
matters for both you and the librarians. Do not think it beneath your
dignity to investigate the number of copies of any composition that
you are planning to use, and when there are not enough to supply each
singer in the chorus and each desk in the orchestra with a copy, to
see to it that more music is ordered. It is impossible to rehearse
efficiently if the singers in a chorus have to use a part of their
energy in trying to read music from a book or sheet held by some one
else, or if the players in an orchestra are straining their eyes
because three or four instead of two are reading from a single desk.

It will be convenient for the conductor to possess a file containing a
copy of each number in the library at his home or studio, each copy
being marked "conductor's copy." In this way, the director will always
be assured of having the same music, and will feel that it is worth
while to mark it in such a way as to make it more useful in both
rehearsal and performance.


Do not make the mistake of counting or tapping on the desk constantly
during the rehearsal. You may think you are strengthening the rhythm,
but as a matter of fact, you are actually weakening it, for in this
way you take away from the performers the necessity of individual
muscular response to the pulse, and at the performance (when you
cannot, of course, count or tap) the rhythm is very likely to be
flabby and uncertain. Singing with the chorus is another mistake
against which the amateur should be warned. The director not only
cannot detect errors and make intelligent criticisms if he sings with
the chorus, but will make the members dependent upon his voice instead
of compelling them to form the habit of watching him. The only
exception to this principle is in teaching new music to a choir
composed of very poor readers, in which case it is sometimes much
easier to teach a difficult phrase by imitation. Even here, however,
it is almost as well to have the organ give the correct tones. In
leading community singing, the conductor will of course sing with the
crowd, for here he is striving for quite a different sort of effect.


See to it that the practice room is well ventilated, especially for a
chorus rehearsal. Plenty of fresh air will not only enable your chorus
to sing with better intonation, but will allow them to sing for a
longer period without fatigue. (We are tempted to add a corollary to
this proposition: namely, that sleepy congregations are not always due
to poor preaching, as is generally supposed, but are as frequently the
result of a combination of fairly good preaching and a badly
ventilated auditorium!)


In directing a chorus rehearsal, have your singers study without
accompaniment much of the time. The organ "covers a multitude of sins"
and practising without it will not only enable you to discover
weaknesses of all sorts but will help the singers themselves
enormously by making them more independent, improving the intonation,
and compelling them to make cleaner and more definite attacks and


Finally, in concluding both this chapter and the book as a whole, let
us commend once more to the conductor that he cultivate "the saving
grace of humor." This quality has already been commented on somewhat
at length in an earlier chapter (see p. 8), but it is in the rehearsal
period that it is most needed, and the conductor who is fortunate
enough to be able to laugh a little when annoyances interrupt or
disrupt his plans instead of snarling, will not only hold the members
of the organization together for a longer time, because of their
cordial personal attitude toward him, but will find himself much less
fatigued at the end of the rehearsal; for nothing drains one's
vitality so rapidly as scolding. A bit of humorous repartee, then,
especially in response to the complaints of some lazy or grouchy
performer; the ability to meet accidental mishaps without anger; even
a humorous anecdote to relieve the strain of a taxing rehearsal--all
these are to be highly recommended as means of oiling the machinery of
the rehearsal and making it run smoothly.

But of course, even humor can be overdone. So we shall close by
quoting the Greek motto, "Nothing too much," which will be found to
apply equally well to many other activities recommended in the
foregoing pages.




Berlioz, _The Orchestral Conductor_. A short treatise full of
practical suggestions. It is found in the back of the author's
well-known volume on _Orchestration_.

Weingartner, _On Conducting_. A small volume of about seventy-five
pages, but containing excellent material for both amateur and

Schroeder, _Handbook of Conducting_. A practical little book from the
standpoint of both orchestral and operatic directing.

Wagner, _On Conducting_. A short treatise that every professional
conductor will wish to read, but not of much value to the amateur.

Mees, _Choirs and Choral Music_. A well-written account of the history
of choral music from the time of the Hebrews and Greeks down to the
present, containing also an excellent chapter on the Chorus Conductor.

Grove, _Dictionary of Music and Musicians_ (article, Conducting).

Henderson, _What Is Good Music?_ (chapters XIII and XVII).

Krehbiel, _How to Listen to Music_ (chapter VIII).


Coward, _Choral Technique and Interpretation_. One of the few really
significant books on conducting. The author gives in a clear and
practical way the principles on which his own successful work as a
choral conductor was based.

Matthay, _Musical Interpretation_. A book for the musician in general,
rather than for the conductor specifically; an excellent treatise and
one that all musicians should read.


Lavignac, _Music and Musicians_ (chapter II).

Mason, _The Orchestral Instruments and What They Do_.

Corder, _The Orchestra and How to Write for It_.

Prout, _The Orchestra_ (two volumes).

Kling, _Modern Orchestration and Instrumentation_.

Henderson, _The Orchestra and Orchestral Music_; contains two chapters
(XII and XIII) on the Orchestral Conductor that will be of great
interest to the amateur.

Mason (Editor), _The Art of Music_ (Vol. VIII).

Stoeving, _The Art of Violin Bowing_.

Forsyth, _Orchestration_. A particularly good book both for
professional and amateur, as it gives many illustrations and treats
the various instruments from an historical as well as a practical

Widor, _The Modern Orchestra_.


Curwen, _Studies in Worship Music_ (two volumes).

Dickinson, _Music in the History of the Western Church_.

Helmore, _Primer of Plainsong_.

Pratt, _Musical Ministries in the Church_.


Bates, _Voice Culture for Children_.

Brown and Behnke, _The Child Voice_.

Howard, _The Child Voice in Singing_.

Johnson, _The Training of Boys' Voices_.

Richardson, _The Choir Trainer's Art_.

Stubbs, _Practical Hints on Boy Choir Training_.


Ffrangçon-Davies, _The Singing of the Future_.

Fillebrown, _Resonance in Singing and Speaking_.

Greene, _Interpretation in Song_.

Henderson, _The Art of the Singer_.

Russell, _English Diction for Singers and Speakers_.

Withrow, _Some Staccato Notes for Singers_.


Hamilton, _Outlines of Music History_.

Hamilton, _Sound and Its Relation to Music_.



"Surprise" Symphony

Score of Second Movement

[Transcriber's Note: The modern designation for the "Surprise"
Symphony is No. 94.]




A cappella singing, 162.

Accompanist--Relation to conductor, 147.
  Choosing of, 147.
  Treatment of, 148.

Accompanying, organ, 150.

Adolescent boy, 124, 125.

Alto, male, 119.

Altschuler, quoted, 61.

Anglican chant--Baton movements for, 33.

Attack--How to secure it, 30.
  In reading new music, 32.


Back stroke, 28.

Baton--Description of, 20.
  How used, 21.
  Position of, 22.

Baton movements--Diagrams of, 22.
  Principles of, 22.
  Length of stroke, 32.

Bauer, quoted, 159.

Berlioz, quoted, 62.

Boundaries of music, 41.

Bowing--Directions for, 103.
  Signs, 103, 104.

Boy--Problem of, 126-129.

Boy choir--Problem of, 118.
  Government of, 126-129.
  Remuneration of members, 129.

Boy voice--In church choir, 118-125.
  Life of, 123.
  During adolescence, 124.

Break--Adult voice, 137.
  Child voice, 122.

Breathing, 132.

Breath Control, 133.


Canadian Journal of Music, quoted, 19.

Caruso, quoted, 44.

Chant, Anglican--Baton movements for, 33.

Cheatham, quoted, 87.

Cheerful attitude--Value of, 10.

Child Voice--Peculiarities of, 118.
  Difference between boy and girl, 120.
  Compass of, 121.

Children, directing, 79.

Choir, boy--Problems of, 118.
  Boy voice, 118, 119, 120-125.
  Qualifications of leader, 119.
  Remuneration of boys, 129.
  Government of boys, 126-129.

Choir, church--Problems of directing, 108.
  Remedies, 109.
  Difficulties involved in, 111.
  Qualifications of leader, 112.
  Danger of individualism, 112.
  Solo singing in, 114.

Chorus, high school--Music for, 80.
  Direction of, 82.
  Seating of, 83

Church music--Remedies needed, 108.
  Solo singing, 114.
  Importance of congregation singing, 116.

Clarinet, 99.

Clearness of speech--As element in leadership, 16.

Community music--Significance of, 85.
  Social effects of, 86.
  Qualifications of song leader, 87.
  Song material, 89.
  Advertising, 90.
  Provision of words, 91.

Compass of child voice, 121.

Compass of orchestral instruments, 107.

Compound measures, 23, 24, 26, 27.

Conducting--Definition, 1.
  History of, 2.
  Psychological basis of, 3.
  Orchestral, 93.
  Church choir, 108.
  Boy choir, 118.

Conductor--Qualities of, 8, 110.
  Present status of, 2, 3.
  As organizer, 13.
  As interpreter, 36.
  Orchestral, 93.
  Relation to accompanist, 147-151.

Congregational singing, 116.

Consonants in singing, 135.

Counting aloud, 161.

Coward, quoted, 65.

Creative imagination, 11.

Crescendo, 58.


Diagrams of baton movements, 22, 23, 24.

Dickinson, quoted, 62, 109.

Discipline in rehearsals, 155.

Dynamics, 57-63.
  Terms defined, 59, 60.


Efficiency in the rehearsal, 152.

Efficiency vs. Idealism, 153.

Emotion--In interpretation, 38.

Enthusiasm as an element in leadership, 16, 17.

Expression--Meaning of, 36, 43.
  In instrumental music, 46.
  Elements of, 46.
  How produced, 72, 75.


Fermata, 31.

Five-beat measure, 27.


Gehring, quoted, 42.

Girl voice, 120, 121.


Harmony, 71.

Haydn score, 166.

Head voice, 122, 123.

High school chorus--Direction of, 82.
  Seating of, 83.
  Music for, 80.

History of conducting, 2.

Hold, 31.

Humor--Sense of, 8.
  Illustrations of, 9.
  Value in rehearsals, 162.

Hymns--Selection of, 117.


Idealism vs. Efficiency, 153.

Imagination--Value of, 11.

Individualism--Danger of in church choir, 112.

Instinctive imitation, 3.

Instrumental music--Expression in, 46.
  Timbre in, 66.
  Phrasing in, 69.

Instruments--Proportion of, 97.
  Transposing, 98-100.
  Pitch standards, 101.
  Tuning of, 102.
  Bowing, 103.
  Range of, 107.

Interpretation and expression--Definition, 36.

Interpretation, 36-75.
  Emotion in, 38.
  Definition, 40.
  In vocal music, 43.
  Importance of timbre in, 66.


Leadership--Sense of, 13.
  Elements of, 15, 16, 17.
  Summary, 18.

Legato, 135.

Length of program, 142.

Life of boy voice, 123.


Male alto, 119.

Melody accentuation, 61.

Memory, muscular in tempo, 55.

Messa di voce, 138.

Metronome, 48.

Movable break, 122.

Music--Non-measured, 33.
  Boundaries of, 41.
  Vocal, 43.
  Instrumental--Expression in, 46.
  School--Field of, 75.
  Church, 108-117.

Music--Distribution and care of, 160.

Music--Selection of, 80.
  For children, 80.
  High school chorus, 81.
  Church, 108-117.

Music stand, 20.

Musical scholarship, 6.


Non-measured music, 32.

Nuances, tempo, 53.


Orchestra--Directing of, 93-95.
  Seating of, 96.

Orchestral instruments--Proportion of, 97.
  Transposing, 98.
  Pitch standards, 101.
  Tuning, 102.
  Ranges of, 107.

Organ accompaniments, 150.

Organizing ability, 13.


Personality of conductor, 8.

Personality of supervisor, 78.

Phrasing--Explanation of, 66.
  In vocal music, 67.
  Mistakes in, 68.
  In instrumental music, 69.

Pianissimo, 60, 61.

Pitch--Registers, 71.
  Standards, 101.

Planning the rehearsal, 154.

Poise--as element in leadership, 16.

Portamento, 138.

Principle of time beating, 28.

Program-making, 140.
  Length of, 142.
  Arrangement of numbers, 144.
  Importance of details, 146.

Program music, 42.

Psychological basis of conducting, 3.

Public performance--Attitude of conductor at, 82.

Public school music, 76.
  Relation to church choirs, 115.


Qualities of conductor, 8.


Ranges of orchestral instruments, 107.

Recitative, 33.

Registers--Child voice, 122, 123.
  In adult voice, 136.

Rehearsal--How to save time in, 152-163.
  Planning of, 154.
  Discipline in, 155.

Rehearsal letters or numbers, 158.

Relation between conductor and accompanist, 147-151.

Relaxation in singing, 136.

Release--How to secure, 30.

Resonance, 134.

Rhythm, 70.

Rubato, 53.


Scholarship, musical--Importance of, 6.

School music--Field of, 76.
  Supervisor's personality, 78.
  Direction of children, 79.
  Selection of music, 80.
  Public performance, 81.

Schumann as a conductor, 13.

Score--Reading, 93, 105.

Seating--Orchestra, 96.
  High School chorus, 83.

Self-confidence--Element in leadership, 15.

Seven-beat measure, 27.

Singing--Solo, 114.
  Congregational, 116.
  Use of vowel and consonants 134, 135.
  Legato, 135.
  Relaxation in, 136.
  Summary of good, 139.
  A cappella, 162.

Solo singing, 114.

Spitta, quoted, 13.

Standards of pitch, 101.

Sternberg, C. von, quoted, 37.

Stroke, length of, 32.

Supervisor of music, 76.


Table--Of orchestral instruments, 107.
  Transposing instruments, 100.

Technique of the rehearsal, 152.

Tempo, 46-56.
  Importance of, 47.
  Finding correct, 48.
  Rubato, 54, 55.
  Establishing of, 55.

Tempo terms defined, 49-53.

Timbre, 64.
  In instrumental music, 66.
  In vocal music, 64, 65, 66.

Time beating--Principles and methods of, 22-29.
  Back stroke, 28, 29.

Tone--How produced, 134.

Tone quality, 64-66.

Transposing instruments, 98, 99, 100.

Tremolo in singing, 138.

Tuning orchestral instruments, 102.


Unity in program making, 142.


Varasdin, quoted, 19.

Variety in program, 140.

Ventilation of practice rooms, 162.

Vibrato, 138.

Vocal cords, Action of, 137.

Vocal music--Interpretation, 43.
  Timbre, 64.
  Phrasing, 67.

Vocal register, 136.

Voice, the boy's--In church choir, 118-125.
  Life of, 123.
  During adolescence, 124, 125.

Voice, the child's--Peculiarities of, 118.
  Compass of, 121.
  Difference between voice of boy and girl, 120.
  Head voice, 122, 123.

Voice training--In conducting, 119, 131.
  Breathing, 132.
  Breath control, 133.
  Resonance, 134.
  Legato, 135.
  Tone production, 137.

Vowel in singing, 134.


Wagner, quoted, 47.

Weingartner, quoted, 12.

Whipple, quoted, 10.

Whole method, 158.

Williams, C.F.A., quoted, 75.

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