What's the best Baton for conducting students?
Thanks for the many helpful responses about batons for students. Here
are all the messages, in case you're interested.
Have a great semester,
I have my students buy the 10" Hamel, wooden handle, fiberglass shaft and
then they use sand paper to fit it to their own hands and taper the
shaft. It's something Don Neuen had us do when I took his course at
Eastman. It is only about $5.
My personal favorite batons are made by Charles Olson, the former
director of bands at Bethel College in St. Paul, MN. His company is
called Custom Batons, and he can be reached at olscha(a)goldengate.net.
Since your students are probably going to want to keep their batons, I'd
suggest having them purchase them (I'm assuming that this is a college
course). It's a $25 to $50 investment (Mr. Olson's batons are on the
lower end of the cost margin) that will stay with a person for a long
time. I am of the opinion that it's best to start with a quality,
balanced baton, because a balanced baton seems lighter and becomes a
natural extension of the hand (versus a tool used to bludgeon a band,
orchestra, or choir into submission!)
His batons are made to balance, with a very, very durable fiberglass
handle...and he also makes batons to order (handle shape; type of wood
used for the handle, and the color of the handle). I've had my original
Olson baton for over 10 years now. I've banged it on instrument stands,
children (no, that's a joke), and although some of the white enamel has
worn off the fiberglass shaft, it still looks great. I even have a
"spare" in case mine ever breaks. I think he can also make custom
shafts out of wood.
I buy a baton for each of my student conductors (high school) as a gift
at the end of the year. I'd suggest sending Mr. Olson an e-mail; you
won't be unhappy with the product.
I know there are some other companies out there...they show up at MMEA
(Minnesota Music Educators Association) Minnesota's division of the
MENC) in the vendor area from time to time. I also know of some people
that swear by Mollard Batons (http://www.mollard.com/).
Call Mollard Batons (they're on the web). I use them for my conducting
class and if you place the order as a class they give a significant
Here at the Music Mart we sell the Hamel batons that are a
fiberglass shaft and either a wooden or cork handle that retail for
You can view them on our web site ate www.musicmart.com. We also have an
exotic wood baton that is $8.95. The exotic wood baton that we have is
an all wood shaft. The batons are either 12 or 14 inches and they have a
tapered shaft. We can send you an assortment of them on exam so you can
try them out. Please contact me at 1-800-545-6204 should you
wish to try them out.
Stan Keith, Mgr
Music Mart, Inc. 3301 Carlisle Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110, U.S.A.
Please direct all email inquiries to skeith (a)musicmart.com
In USA call me at 1-800-545-6204, ext
(Local 505-889-9777, ext 21)
Heids (in Appleton WI) has a cheap ($7) plastic one - 14-16 inches that
is pretty well
balanced that we use
I consider myself somewhat of an expert on batons since I own over 110
and am incredibly picky about them. I recently wrote a review of baton
makers for our conducting students at EIU, so here is the ranking:
1. THE BEST- Newland Custom Batons- www.newlandbatons.com
--somewhat expensive (26.95); many handle choices; does group order
discount- THE FINEST CRAFTMANSHIP I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! Has excellent
balance, quality materials, very lightweight. Offers wood and graphite
shafts. Each baton includes a durable storage case made of PVC.(Newland
would be my first pick becuase he will send you a bunch of batons in
different lengths and handles so your students can choose one that they
like. He puts a 90 day guarentee on his batons. If you don't like it
or even if you break it, he will replace it for free. No one else
offers such an incentive.)
2. Charles B. Olsen 763-421-8786
--WONDERFUL craftsman- totally custom-designed handles. Cost is
dependant on materials and handle design you choose.
3. Mollard- www.mollard.com
--Lightweight; extremely fragile; very small handles- about $20 each-
each baton incldues a nice plasic protective tube.
4. Premier Batons- www.premierbatons.com
--reasonable pricing ($15-$20); somewhat heavy (fiberglass shafts, not
5. Piansano press- 248-879-6346
--2 baton makers sell batons through Piansano- Tim Topolewshi and Harry
Begian. They both have fiberglass shafts, but the handle designs are
very innovative and comfortable.
Don't even consider the following:
5. Hermele Batons- www.hermelebatons.com
--A little expensive ($25-$35); rather heavy; not always balanced
6. Symphony Batons- www.talwarbrothers.com
--fragile, cheaply made, most are warped before you even buy it
7. Mowen Batons- www.conductingbatons.com
For a beginning conducting class, you might opt to use a company called
Harron Batons. These batons are available to order through most music
store catalogs. They are cork handled and have a light fiberglass
shaft. They aren't more than about $10 each. However, Newland is still
my #1 pick. (If you use him, tell him that Derek Weston referred
you...I have about 10 of his.)
One more note---if you decide to use Mollard, have all of the students
poke one or two small holes in the tube for ventilation- If moisture
gets trapped inside, it will cause the baton to warp.
Let me know if you have any other questions...baton collecting is a
strange hobby of mine.
Graduate Student in Orchestral and Choral Conducting, Eastern Illinois
I wouldn't get anything other than a Mollard baton. It is well made,
beautifully balanced, and I haven't found others that compare. Maybe
could arrange a bulk purchase with Mollard - they have a web site.
You can go to these companies' sites:
Mollard conducting Batons
Newland Conducting Batons
Both I've used for myself and classes. Both are
reasonable in price.
I have always used Mollard Batons (1-800-842-2866). They have
inexpensive models on up to some rather pricey ones, but all high
quality. I avoid fiberglass batons--a colleague had a student suffer an
eye injury when one broke. Ask Mollard to send you a free brouchure.
Contact Mollard. They have a group discount for students and, in my
they have the best batons.