• Jen Huber

Beyond the baton

Inaugural Conducting Symposium

to take place online July 20-21

and 23-24

In a summer filled with cancelled summer camps and postponed seminars, Associate Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Jacob Joyce hopes that he will be bringing a bit of happiness into the lives of music students and music educators across the country. Beginning on July 20, a free, virtual, four-day Conducting Symposium for students in high school and college and beginning music educators will be taking place. Presented by Music for All—which is one of the largest and most influential national music education organizations in support of active music making—students will learn the fundamentals of conducting, from score study techniques to navigating mixed meter. The brand new Conducting Symposium runs on July 20, 21, 23, and 24, with up to four sessions per day, and will feature special guests Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Hugh Wolff.

Associate Conductor of the ISO Jacob Joyce

Joyce came up with the idea for the Conducting Symposium while thinking about how he could teach people more about conducting and offer something during the summer when other workshops may have been cancelled. “There isn’t a lot of instruction out there for people who want to learn how to conduct, and I hope I can fill that void,” he says. “I hope that this workshop will be helpful to young people and teach them what they need to know before they get on a podium.”

Since Joyce began planning this symposium during the pandemic, he knew from the start that everything would be taught online. “The virtual format is great for teaching conducting skills,” Joyce says. “Baton technique needs to be practiced in person, but a lot of the discussion on how to conduct effectively and rehearse effectively and how to study a score can be done remotely. So much of your work as a conductor is in the study of the music, and unlike playing an instrument (which can be a challenge online), teaching conducting is a lot of talking and is well-suited for the online format.”

James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Educational Resources at Music for All, was very excited when Joyce reached out to him to be the presenter. “We are very excited to collaborate with our friends at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on this program for young musicians and we hope this experience will inspire them,” he says. “Having the opportunity to learn from Maestro Joyce and other leading orchestral conductors about the art of conducting and the role of a symphony conductor should provide a truly life-changing experience.”

The two guest artists—Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Hugh Wolff—come with amazing accolades and valuable experiences of their own. Harth-Bedoya is the Music Director of the Fort Worth Symphony and works on improving the quality of conducting education. Wolff teaches at the New England Conservatory and is one of the most sought-after conducting instructor in the country. “He really teaches students what they need to know and has a great track record of his students getting jobs,” adds Joyce. Both Harth-Bedoya and Wolff will teach a one-hour session during the symposium.

As Joyce gears up for next week, he is most excited to talk about how he studies a score and his recommendations for studying it. “I think that score study is an area where people get lost and don’t get clear instruction,” he explains. “I also have a unique way of how I study a score that is very practical, so I hope people will benefit from that.”

Looking ahead, he hopes that the symposium can be held in person one day and that participants can be connected with conductors or aspiring conductors to keep their education going. Stephens agreed. “Simply put, if educators and young musicians find this to be valuable and rewarding, this might be something we can offer annually or perhaps even expand upon.”

Though he won’t be able to see the reactions of students because of the online format, Joyce is looking forward to a week of great learning and experiences. “It’s a great feeling when you are teaching something and you feel like a student really gets it. You feel like you’ve helped for something to click with them, and it’s my hope is that this will happen for a lot of people in this symposium.”

For more information about the Conducting Symposium or to register*, visit https://education.musicforall.org/conducting/

*The symposium is free for students and charges a nominal fee for adults

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