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MUSIC 3O03 Conducting

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: by email

Course Objectives:


To develop skills in music listening and interpretation.

To establish a conducting technique that is clear, supportive & responsive.

To learn the basics of score-reading and analysis.



Body awareness & coordination

Technical & expressive gestures

Attentive listening

Score analysis & preparation



The course will employ a combined lecture/laboratory format.  Each new topic will include time for experimentation, practice, and testing. The members of the class will provide an ensemble with which each participant will learn the gestures necessary for effective conducting. Students are advised that this course is taught as a master class. Those students who carefully prepare for each class, whether or not they expect to conduct, will benefit most from the course. Preparation must involve technical considerations (planning and practising specific physical gestures), and musical/artistic issues (tempo, style, phrasing, balance, musical direction, etc).  Also, because of the master class format and frequency of conducting opportunities, irregular attendance will significantly limit the knowledge and skills a student can expect to acquire from this course.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Basic Conducting Techniques by Joseph Labuta. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.

Erasable coloured score marking pencils


Video-recording device

Please bring your instrument to every class.


Method of Assessment:

In-class conducting (55%)

Analysis & Listening Project (20%)

Self-Evaluations and Final Reflection (15%)

Participation, Preparation & Progress (10%)

   *Due Dates and Schedule listed below.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Any in-class conducting assignment that is missed without prior consultation with the instructor will be penalized 20% up until the following class, after which the assignment will no longer be able to be completed.

Late written assignments will be penalized 20% up to five days, after which the assignment will not be accepted.

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:


Students will conduct weekly throughout the course of the term.  Feedback and a grade for each conducting exercise will be updated in Avenue to Learn within a few days of each conducting assignment.

Weeks 1-2

Preparatory Beats, Downbeats, and Releases

Prepare the two Chapter 1 excerpts.     


Weeks 2-3

Patterns, Active and Passive Gestures

Prepare two of the following excerpts: 2-1, 2-4, 2-6, 2-8, 2-11, 3-1, 3-2, 3-8, 3-9, 3-11, 3-12. (of two different time signatures).  Students are expected to show proficiency and confidence with preparatory beats, beat patterns and internal releases. (For extra practice, see Ch. 4). 


Weeks 4-5

Cueing & Internal Releases

Conduct on excerpt from Ch. 8, incorporating appropriate cueing and release gestures. This must be conducted FROM MEMORY.


 *Self-evaluation 1 due NO LATER than one week after testing.

Weeks 6-7


Conduct one of the following excerpts incorporating all of the three types of fermatas:

7.1, 7.2, or 7.14. This must be conducted FROM MEMORY. Hand in a photocopy of your marked score BEFORE you conduct.


*Self-evaluation 2 due NO LATER than one week after testing.

Weeks 8-9

Dynamics & Articulation

1. Be prepared to conduct all of the excerpts on the Expressive Conducting handout provided as well as the example in Appendix B. (For extra practice see Ch. 10 & Appendix E.)

2. Prepare a short expressive piece (6.4, 6.5, 6.7, 9.6, 9.7, M-7, M-9). Hand in a photocopy of your marked score BEFORE you conduct.


*Self-evaluation 3 due NO LATER than one week after testing.

Weeks 10

Divided Meters

Conduct an excerpt from Ch. 5.  Ensure a steady, rhythmic flow. Hand in a photocopy of your marked score BEFORE you conduct.


*Self-evaluation 4 due NO LATER than one week after testing.


Weeks 11-13


Prepare a final piece (list to be provided by Dr. Rensink), incorporating what you have learned throughout the term. You will have an opportunity to work with the class on your piece at least once before your final test. See Appendix B for your evaluation guideline (excluding “Rehearsal Technique”). A score knowledge test will also be included and a well-detailed marked score must be submitted.

*Final Reflection due last day of class.



Analysis & Listening Project

Analyze the provided movement of Symphony No. 27 by Mozart following the guidelines specified in Chapter 12 of the Labuta book. Part 1 (Acquire a conception) may be presented in point form, as a chart, or written directly onto the score. Any unique symbols used will need to be explained. Part 2 ("Anticipate problems of conducting) and Part 3 (Anticipate problems of ensemble and rehearsal) are better presented separately from the score, but may be in point form. 

Please include a copy of the score with all bars numbered. Due: October 21, 2015.


Self-Evaluations & Final Reflection

You will be required to complete and submit self-evaluations (10%) and a final reflection (5%).  It is expected that you record ALL of your conducting sessions and use these recordings as a basis for your self-evaluation.  Self-evaluations will not be accepted beyond the one-week time frame.


Participation, Preparation & Progress

All students are expected to actively participate in this class, whether in singing, playing or discussing. Preparedness & progress displayed throughout the term will also be strongly considered here.