Loaded Question

Found this little gem floating around on Yahoo Answers:

How does an symphony orchestra conductor communicate with the orchestra musicians if they don’t look at him?


  1. S/he doesn’t necessarily communicate with the musicians as individuals, unless someone has something to play that either needs to be shaped or shushed. The role of a conductor is to communicate collectively to a large group of musicians who are in need of a point of focus in order to play well. There are conductors that I play with that I only look at when it is necessary, and only out of the corner of my eye, but that does not mean I’m not watching. The only time I don’t watch a conductor is when the conductor is not able to give me what I need to see. A really good conductor, one who is really connected with the music and has an absolute sense of how s/he wants to shape a piece, is someone that I want to look at all the time when I am playing, and even when I’m not.

  2. Miss Mussel

    Thanks so much for your comments on this and the other posts. It’s lovely to have new people around here, that is, assuming you haven’t been a lurker for months.

    To be honest, I was posting this in an impish sort of spirit, thinking of the times what the conductor is trying to communicate is not at all helpful and avoiding eye contact is the only way for the orchestra to keep it together.

    Although we do like to grumble about it a lot, happily the instances of this actually happening are rare.

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