UNDERGRADUATE CONDUCTING

The undergraduate conducting sequence is open to all music majors and minors and includes a general introductory class, a second level course grouped by genre (instrumental and choral) and a third advanced level course which focuses on rehearsal techniques. Motivated undergraduate students may audit the graduate practicum in conducting, and a select few could participate (conduct) by audition/invitation.

Our undergraduate spring conducting symposium, organized by CNAfME (Collegiate National Association for Music Education), offers a rare opportunity for motivated young conductors to work with a full ensemble and conducting faculty in gestural and rehearsal techniques.

Interested students are also encouraged to audition to become a drum major with the Redcoats, an extremely rewarding experience in music and leadership.

GRADUATE CONDUCTING

UGA offers cutting-edge MM and DMA programs in Conducting. These competitive degrees offer students the opportunity to conduct a broad array of ensembles in preparation for a professional and/or academic conducting career. The art of conducting is examined from the perspective of gesture and movement, score study/analysis/ear training, and rehearsal techniques/teaching. In addition, students learn a broad range of repertoire within social and historic contexts. A focus is placed on contemporary music and the development of the wind band as a friend to living composers.

Conducting majors may receive applied instruction each week and participate in a graduate practicum exploring creative movement, aural and score reading skills, history, repertoire and a variety of other musical topics. Graduate conductors have the opportunity to work with our nationally visible athletic band program including arranging, writing, and teaching drill. In addition to working closely with our wind conducting faculty, wind conducting majors also study with our renowned orchestral and choral conducting faculty and collaborate with conducting students from all three genres.

Graduate conductors conduct all of the wind bands at Hodgson, including frequent appearances with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony. Graduates are also required to read relevant literature in areas related to conducting (brain research, leadership, presentation skills, entrepreneurship, psychology, learning theories, movement/gesture, creativity, etc.). Annual treks to the Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic in Chicago are sponsored. Students also have the opportunity to learn from other conductors in the profession by interacting with guest conductors, including clinicians at Midfest and Janfest. Opportunities to learn from guest soloists and composers are also frequent. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS) ABOUT GRADUATE STUDIES

What do you look for in a Graduate student?

Excellent musicianship is a given–good ear, developed technique and gestural language, good rehearsal technique, knowledge of history and repertoire. Beyond that? Inclusivity, inter- and intra-personal skills, willingness to take risks, strong work ethic, positive attitude, entrepreneurial spirit,  independence, intelligence, proactivity, curiosity, a team player, a good heart, interests in areas other than music, a strong desire and developing plan for how they intend to be a positive factor in the future of music. Answers to these questions:

  • How are you different than everyone else who wants a graduate degree?
  • What needs to change in the wind band world?
  • How are you going to change it?
  • We in the collegiate wind band world confer many, perhaps too many, DMA degrees in wind conducting. Understanding that talent, passion, and hard work are not enough anymore, what do you have to offer that others don't?

Do I need to have teaching experience to be accepted into the graduate program?

Assuming you mean "formal" teaching experience, it's not necessary but it is a definite plus. You certainly need to have spent substantial time on the podium. But profound strength in other areas (see first answer) can make a big difference.

How much podium time will I receive?

Lots. You will conduct all of the wind bands, including the wind ensemble. In the spring semester, graduate conductors run the non-major concert bands. The DMA graduate recital is with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble or with members thereof.

Will I have the opportunity to conduct ensembles and repertoire other than the wind band repertoire?

Yes! Good music is good music, and we don’t tolerate musical snobbery. You will learn orchestral, “new,” (for Wind Ensemble and contemporary chamber ensemble), choral, and operatic repertoire, along with wind band repertoire. This is a comprehensive program.

How are the TA duties assigned?

We try to assign duties that will contribute to your learning and stretch you in some way. If you want to work with the Marching Band, great. If you don’t want to because you have no experience doing so, you can definitely get that experience. If you want to focus your assistantship on library duties, great. On teaching, great. Yes, there is some moving of chairs and stands, but it’s minimal. Will you be called upon sometimes to go above and beyond? Count on it.

What is the “Graduate Practicum?”

The Graduate Practicum is an 8000-level course that emphasizes practical experience conducting a variety of repertoires. Guest performers include two rehearsal pianists, graduate small ensembles, and singers. In addition to “getting on the box,” the practicum addresses real world issues by invited guest artists and lecturers, CV and webpage development, navigating tenure, job interviews and auditions, entrepreneurship, writing program notes, engaging audiences, score-study, psychology of leadership, etc. We also do a good amount of atonal sight-singing together, Hindemith exercises, and exercises to help explore gesture effectiveness.

Do you have any suggestions on the application process?

If you submit an application on Acceptd, and we’ve never heard of you, we won’t give it a lot of consideration. While it’s difficult (but recommended) for some to visit campus, connecting via email or other means is a good idea. We are also happy to review video before you submit an application. A graduate degree starts with a 2-3 year interaction, but it is likely to yield a lifelong relationship. Helping you make a good decision is as important is it is for us to make good decisions.

What do you look for in rehearsal and performance footage?

We are unlikely to sit through a recording to find your moment of brilliance near the end. Find that part of your rehearsal and performance recording that you are most proud of and start there. If you want to help us through your edited tape, that's fine too ("It took us 4 more times to perfect it. Here is the best run that day," "I've deleted 10 minutes here," etc.) In the rehearsal video, we want to hear the music improve. In the performance video, we are looking for your connection to the music/musicians. Find those things and submit that.

What about the GRE?

Not required. But, if you do take the GRE and receive great results, it can make you more competitive for Graduate School awards.

What makes the graduate degree in conducting at UGA different than others?

The podium time is key. While you will observe a lot, that's not necessarily the best way to learn. You will conduct and teach a lot. We encourage risk and even failure (in a safe environment). That's how you learn the most valuable lessons. You also have the opportunity to conduct a variety of musics, not just band music. You will be in charge of a non-major band at least twice during your tenure. Faculty at the Hugh are committed to helping you make connections across your history, theory, and performance courses. You will be encouraged to publish before you graduate. Each time you conduct in public it counts toward your degree recital.

Go Dawgs!