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MUSIC 4OC3 AdvConducting:Choral

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: by appointment

Course Objectives:

Students will engage with the practical and artistic elements of conducting.  

Topics will include:

Body Awareness & Coordination

Gesture & Communication

Listening Acuity

Choral Style Periods

Score Study Strategies

Rehearsal Technique

Leadership & Self-Confidence


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Five Centuries of Choral Music for Mixed Voices VOLUME 1

Five Centuries of Choral Music for Mixed Voices VOLUME 2

Erasable coloured pencils for score marking

Video recording device

Method of Assessment:

This course will run primarily as a lab.  Members of the class can expect to conduct almost every week.  Those who prepare thoroughly for and attend each class will benefit the most from this hands-on course.  It is expected that you video-record all in-class conducting for purposed of completing self-reflections throughout the term. It is also expected that for ALL conducting assignments, you are working from a marked score.



55%            Conducting Assignments                                                        

10%            Rehearsal Preparation  (marked scores, rehearsal plans)         

 15%           Project Score Study                                                                 

15%            Self-Evaluations                                                                      

 5%             Participation as a singer in class                                              

*Please note that a minimum of 10% of your final grade will be assessed before March 10.

*Please see course schedule below for details & deadlines.



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond the assigned due date as outlined in the Course Schedule.

Rehearsal Plans and Marked Scores will not be accepted after you have conducted the musical excerpt to which it applies.

Late submission of the Project Score Study will result in a 20% deduction per day and will not be accepted after you have conducted your Final.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


You MUST record ALL of your in-class conducting activity.

All items in blue can be found in the CONTENT section of ATL.


Jan. 5,9             Body Awareness & Coordination

Review of patterns, left hand independence, preps, cues, releases & fermatas

Score Marking Strategies


Jan. 12              Review of Technical Skills

Conducting #1. Prepare assigned piece from the repertoire list, adhering to the instructions as indicated.


Jan. 16, 19         Phrasing, Word Stress, Active/Passive Beats

Conducting #2. Prepare assigned piece from the repertoire list, adhering to the instructions as indicated.


Jan. 23, 26         Prepare to conduct #2 again, now in its entirety.

Submit self-evaluation 1 to the ATL dropbox BEFORE ­­­­­January 30. 

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond this assigned due date.


Jan. 26              Catch-up

Choral Style Periods

Score Marking Strategies


Jan. 30,  Feb. 2,6,9              Conducting #3. Prepare two contrasting excerpts of different style periods (one slower, one faster) from pieces that you have not yet conducted.  Of the two selections, one MUST be of the Renaissance period.  Prepare NO MORE THAN TWO PAGES of each selection (anywhere between one & two pages is acceptable). You may choose the order in which you conduct your two selections (one on Jan. 30/Feb. 2 and the other on Feb. 6/Feb. 9)

Submit self-evaluation 2 to the ATL dropbox BEFORE February 20. ­­­­­ 

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond this assigned due date.




Feb. 20              Choral Rehearsal Techniques & Rehearsal Preparation


Feb. 23, 27        Conducting #4. In consultation with the instructor, choose a piece from either textbook that has not yet been conducted. Lead the class in a 5-minute rehearsal of no more than a page or so of your piece.  Demonstrate and address aspects of dynamics, phrasing, tempo, articulation, texture, tone colour and contrast.  Complete a 5-minute rehearsal plan and a detailed marked score of the entire piece and submit both in hard copy to Dr. Rensink BEFORE you conduct (rehearsal plans and marked scores will not be accepted after you have conducted).


Mar. 2               Conducting #5. Lead the class in a 3-minute rehearsal of the same piece (from Conducting #4), highlighting a particular section or issue that you wish to address before your upcoming 10-minute rehearsal. 

Submit self-evaluation 3 to the ATL dropbox BEFORE March 6. ­­­­­ 

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond this assigned due date.


Mar. 6               Choral Listening: Hearing is at the heart of rehearsing.


Mar. 9               NO CLASS. Prepare for your 10-minute rehearsal.


Mar. 13,16,20,23 Conducting #6. Expand on your previous 5-minute and 3-minute rehearsals to engage with a larger segment of the piece.  You will rehearse the class for 10 minutes in preparation for a final run-through of the piece.  Please note that you are NOT expected to work on or perform the whole piece.  Even one page is sufficient if you are engaging with the music and the ensemble.  Quality will be assessed over quantity so spend your time really working on the MUSIC.  You must submit your 10-minute rehearsal plan before you conduct (rehearsal plans will not be accepted after you have conducted). 

Submit self-evaluation 4 to the ATL dropbox BEFORE March 27. ­­­­­ 

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond this assigned due date.


Mar. 27             Conducting #7. Perform a final run-through of the piece you have been working on in previous weeks.


Mar. 30, Apr. 3   Conducting #8. FINAL PROJECT

For your final conducting project, you will be assigned to conduct one of the two McMaster University Choirs (choir & repertoire to be determined). All conducting finals will take place on TUESDAY, APRIL 4 either at 3:30 (Women’s Choir) or 5:30 (McMaster University Choir).

Submit a project score study in hard copy format on March 30.

Late submission of the project score study will result in a 20% deduction per day. It will not be accepted after you have conducted your final.

Submit final self-evaluation 5 to the ATL dropbox BEFORE April 10.

Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond this assigned due date.


April 6              Course wrap-up and review.