Six Functions of Conducting: A New Foundation for Music Educators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article poses six functions of conducting as a new foundation for music educators. Two traditional functions focus on music: the mechanical precision function indicates beat, tempo, meter, rhythm, cues, entrances and cutoff releases, and the expressive function indicates dynamics and other expressive characteristics interpreted in a score. Used to a lesser degree, yet representing distinct camps or schools of thought in the field, are functions that focus on musicians. Gestures that draw musicians into an intense mental and visual connection with the conductor serve a motivational function. Gestures that mimic and guide performance on specific instruments serve a physical technique function. Smaller, circular, or rising motions serve an unrestrained tone function that unites an ensemble in a self-reliant tempo and tone. Sharing the intention of planned gestures, teaching musicians to conduct, and drawing gestures from musicians’ familiar experiences serve a psychosocial function. This multifunctional view of conducting draws attention beyond the act of delivering gestures to how an ensemble receives and responds to gestures. It is educationally better rounded, providing a more complete foundation for music educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalMusic Educators Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • band
  • chorus
  • conducting
  • general music
  • gesture
  • motivation
  • orchestra
  • technique


Dive into the research topics of 'Six Functions of Conducting: A New Foundation for Music Educators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this