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College Beginning Choral Conducting Course

I am teaching Beginning Choral Conducting for the second year in the 2014-2015 school year. Last year, I had 14 students one semester and 15 the next. Those were manageable class sizes (the course is only one semester long and the cap on the course is 20 students).
 
However, I now have 19 students signed up for the fall semester (yay? oh no?). Last semester was pushing it with time. The course meets twice a week for 50 minute sessions. I like to present a concept, then have the students conduct each other through repertoire that assesses that concept in a master-class style session (they conduct, I critique things that are good and those that could be better). However, with 19 students, each student is not going to get very much conducting time over the course of the semester.
 
How do you teach conducting so that you're covering a good breadth of knowledge while still giving your students ample time to conduct in class?
 
Thanks for any insights you have!
Ashley
on June 5, 2014 6:26am
19 is a challenge for that class, certainly. I frequently break them into 2s and 3s and have them critique each other. Is there a former student or TA type person who could help you get to more groups? They could als offer extra help outside of class. Video recoridng is, of course, very useful. If you video more classes then you can spend time outside of class giving them feedback. I am trying to find an efficient way to be able to record my comments on their video while the video plays.
 
Just some thoughts. Good luck,
John Warren, Syracuse University
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 5, 2014 7:28am
Hi Ashley,
 
Many years ago, we had a similar problem at Brigham Young University. To solve it, Ronald Staheli and I produced a set of DVDs on which we teach each concept and then provide practice material.  The course is different to most other conducting DVDs because it teaches one concept at a time, in quite a bit of detail. It also shows siimultaeous front and back  (over-the-shoulder) views of the conductor on split-screens, which our students found extremely helpful.
 
Having replaced our previous textbook, it is now used in all our conducting classes and has really turned things around as we are able to assign the students to study and practice the concept BEFORE class. Then we can use almost all the class time for the kind of master-class session you describe, as they have already learned and practiced the concept. Our students are now much better conductors at the end of the course than they ever used to be, and the whole process is far more enjpyable for us all.
 
If this interests you, you can see more details of the DVDs at http://creativeworks.byu.edu/catalog/ViewItem.aspx?item=SM016.
 
Good luck, 
Rosalind Hall
Brigham  Young University
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 23, 2014 9:17am
I have had the same issue with overly enrolled classes.  I take all announcements, etc. out of class.  Class assignments are assigned in the opening syllabus with additional details provided as the assignment nears.  Questions about assignments are handled with meetings or emails.  Papers are returned to individual folders outside my office door.  The order of conductors is given in advance in a detailed schedule.  Everyone must be prepared one class in advance of when they are assigned to cover illness, etc.  If a person becomes ill, they are asked to contact someone up for the next class to ask them to be prepared.  This is double whammy coverage.  I also set up at least two hours a week for 10 minute private coachings.  Sometimes 5 minutes alone in my studio can do more good than 15 minutes in front of the class.  I also provide videos for presntation of ideas, concepts.  I will often follow up in class during a critique time.  I also build in "catch-up" time in to to the schedule.  I hope at least one of these ideas provides some help.  It is a good problem!
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
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