Basic Conducting – WMUS 514

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 06/02/2022

Course Description

Basic instruction in conducting techniques for worship leaders in traditional and non-traditional worship settings. Knowledge and skill areas include: posture and hand position, baton usage, foreign and mechanical terms, conducting gestures and patterns, basic score interpretation, rehearsal management, and technique.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Professional music training requires that a person be able to rehearse and conduct musical ensembles, both instrumental and choral. The purpose of this course is to teach basic conducting gestures and ensemble rehearsal techniques. This course applies the student’s knowledge of musicianship, musical style, and rehearsal and performance discipline.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Articulate the importance of clear, easily readable gestures.
  2. Demonstrate such gestures in use of the basic conducting patterns.
  3. Articulate unique characteristics of conducting, what conducting is, and what conductors do.
  4. Articulate three functions of conducting: meter/tempo, start/stop, and interpretation.
  5. Conduct two short pieces for choir/orchestra, demonstrating a knowledge of right-hand gestures appropriate to various meters.
  6. Demonstrate subdivided beat patterns, preparatory beats, left-hand gestures, releases, dynamic indications, articulations, intensity plane, fermatas, and asymmetrical meters.
  7. Conduct the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah, indicating a developing visual knowledge of gestures appropriate for an assimilation of basic conducting gestures, including those learned from all modules of this course.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.


Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt. The thread must be at least 300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to at least 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 200 words. MLO: A, C

Exercise Video Assignments (6)

The student will submit weekly videos of gestural conducting concepts practiced during each Module: Week. The conducting exercises will vary in length and style. For this assignment, the student is required to record a video showcasing conducting skills with the required musical selections. The student will use the recordings and scores on the Labuta companion website for these exercises. The exception for this is Exercise Video: Fermatas Assignment, which will require a “live” keyboard accompanist whom the student will conduct. The student will be assessed on technical skills taught in the weekly presentation videos and a general understanding/development of conducting concepts. (MLOs: B, F)

Video Project Assignments (3)

The student will upload 3 major project videos of complete pieces demonstrating their progress with gestural expressions. The video projects will vary in length and style. For these assignments, the student is required to record a video showcasing conducting skills with the required musical selections. Unlike the video exercises, the video projects focus on all concepts learned in the course up through the assigned Module: Week. The student will be assessed on technical skills taught in the weekly presentation videos and a general understanding/development of conducting concepts taught throughout the course. (MLOs: B, E, F, G)

Presentation Note-taking Assignment

The student must document the PowerPoint bullets that appear in each Module: Week’s video presentations in Microsoft Word, and then comment with more of the instructor’s verbal concepts and/or reactions to them. This assignment must be at least 750 words. There is the expectation that every PowerPoint discussed throughout the course video presentations is recorded in writing. The student is also expected to make at least 8 total one-phrase comments on major concepts discussed in the videos throughout the entire course. The student does not need to record notes on demonstration gesture videos if there are no PowerPoints in the video. This assignment is meant to ensure that the major concepts are documented and understood and that the student spends time reflecting on them. MLO: A, C, D

Score Charting Exercise Assignment

The student will refer to document “Single Movement Chart Analysis” (Dr. Tim Sharp) and the “Template for Single Movement Chart.” Based on the “Single Movement Chart Analysis,” the student will indicate in the chart measure numbers, possible analysis, and some rehearsal considerations for two pages of Be Thou My Vision. (MLOs: D, E, F)

Score Marking Exercise Assignment

The student will refer to documents “Score Marking Notations,” (Dr. Sharp), and Dr. Suttles’ “Score Marking Example.” The student will mark the music in two pages of “Be Thou My Vision” using the demonstrated score marking suggestions. Student must be liberal in markings, demonstrating an understanding of marking score. Student can add their own additional markings if so desired. (MLOs: D, E, F)

Reflection Summary Assignment

After reflecting on the article Literacy Among Adults in Church Choirs, the student must, in no less than 300 words total, provide a one-sentence general summary of each paragraph, describe what impressions where left in the findings of this research, describe experiences in similar music literacy issues in church-music settings in which the student either participated in as a singer or leader. (MLOs: A, C, D)

Conducting Essay Assignment

The student will complete a 500-word essay summarizing philosophical, methodological, and theological approaches to conducting a choir or orchestra in his or her context (church, school, or community) with a Christian perspective. The content of the essay will be based on the five video presentations from Module 7: Week 7 and Module 8: Week 8.  The essay must include at least 2 citations and current Turabian format must be used. The assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool. (MLOs: A, C, D)