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Advice from Yamaha Master Educator Douglas Droste

Technique vs. Emotion

Early in my conducting career and marriage, my wife, Amanda, and I were talking to one of my colleagues about a major orchestral work. 

He was going on and on about the conducting technique required to lead such a work.

Amanda, who is not a conductor but a fine singer, started grilling my friend. “How does it make you feel?” “What does it make you think of when you conduct?” “Can you describe your feelings about this section?”

This conversation served as a “lightbulb” moment for me.

I, too, was very concerned with the technique of music making and often forgot the powerful emotional aspect. As educators we get wrapped up with festivals, travel, class schedules and student behavior among many things, and this emotional element can get pushed aside.

After that conversation, I knew I had to dig deeper to fully appreciate all that music had to offer. Since then, when studying a score, I constantly look inward and feel how the music is speaking to me. The conversation immediately helped my conducting, and it also confirmed that I made a good marital choice!

This article originally appeared in the 2017 V3 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.