University of Tasmania

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Redefining the conductor as conductor-music educator

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 07:56 authored by William BakerWilliam Baker, King, S

This study examined the lived experience (van Manen, 1990) of the researcher as a conductor, as a teacher, as a learner and as a musician, interrogating the nature of my work as a conductor-music educator. It explored the researcher’s experiences in regional Tasmania from the dual perspective of a conductor and a music educator primarily involved with teaching music through a large instrumental ensemble, a context in which these two roles are inextricably inter-linked.

In this study I examined the nature of the conductor-music educator’s work through my eyes and the eyes of members of an ensemble I conducted. At the commencement of the study it was necessary for me to define the term conductor-music educator, the definition is as follows: The music educator and a professional/semi-professional conductor teaching instrumental or choral music through ensemble performance. The primary focus of the conductor-music educator is the musical and technical development of the ensemble and its members.

An autoethnographic approach was taken to facilitate an understanding my practice as a conductor-music educator. This approach provided opportunities for me to reflect upon the teaching and learning that occurred during ten weeks of rehearsals. Data were generated through my reflexive writings, journaling, rehearsal plans, rehearsal video footage, concert video footage, ensemble participant interviews and video-stimulated interviews. The rich data generated provided an insight into my work as a conductor-music educator. These data are considered in relation to the literature of the work of the music educator, the development and art and craft of a conductor, and the work of the conductor-music educator.

Emergent themes suggest that the nature of the conductor-music educator’s work is multifaceted and multi-layered. The relationship between the selection of quality repertoire (music pedagogical texts) selection and rehearsal preparation, planning, implementation and reflection is inextricably linked; it is a cyclic process where one stage informs the next stage. Fundamentally a conductor-music educator never stops teaching and during rehearsals they must engage ensemble members’ fingers (technique) and musicianship (cognition). This engagement comes through the planning and implementation of meaningful experiences, which empower ensemble members to learn.

This paper follows the journey my ensemble and I took which enabled us to perform one music pedagogical text: Thomas R. Roots’ “Polly Oliver”.


Publication title

Redefining the Musical Landscape: Inspired Learning and Innovation in Music Education - Australian Society for Music Education XIX National Conference Proceedings


B Merrick and D Forrest






Faculty of Education


Australian Society for Music Education

Place of publication

Parkville, Victoria

Event title

Australian Society for Music Education XIX National Conference

Event Venue

Canberra, ACT

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright 2013 Australian Society for Music Education

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Learner and learning not elsewhere classified

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