These days we’re told as we grow up to always follow our dreams, that we can be whatever we want to be, all we need is to go out there and seize the opportunity, but the reality of it is that life is of course not that simple. It’s a competitive world out there and often it’s hard to know what path to follow in order to even come close to attaining that dream job. Becoming a musical conductor is just such a dream, a dream that plenty of people aspire too. It’s a great job to aim for but not one that you can simply walk out there and apply for, it takes discipline, training, passion and of course grit to follow the path. Sure, we could say not just anyone could reach these lofty heights but with the right attitude why not? The following career path will hopefully give you some idea of how to follow a path and plan ahead to achieve your goals, putting you on the road to success.
Learn to Play Well
In fact, don’t just learn to play well, learn to play very well. It is crucial that you gain a keen understanding of your craft and by learning to play your chosen instrument, whatever that may be, to the best of your abilities. You need to know what it means to play an instrument, doing this will give you a firm understanding of what the players in your orchestra will be doing, it’ll allow you to speak their language if you will. In an interview with the BBC the principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen, stated that if you do not know how to play an instrument well you wouldn’t be in a “moral, mental or ethical position to demand the same thing from an orchestra”. So again, whatever instrument you play make sure you learn it well, for this is the foundation of which the career will be built on.
Love Your Craft
As with any job (particularly in a creative industry) being a conductor requires a real passion for music. Think about it like this, your job as a conductor is essentially to present whatever music your orchestra is playing in the form of your own interpretation. As such, you need to understand exactly what it is each piece means to you and how to portray that. The orchestra is effectively your instrument, think of how a musician is able to channel their feelings and emotions into their playing, that is exactly what you will be doing but instead through an orchestra. Understand exactly what each sound means to you, the emotions the strings convey, the passion felt in the percussion, the joy of the woodwinds and so on. You’ll need to love and understand music in a way that you can convey your ideas to both your musicians and then of course and audience.