Music directors are responsible for making the creative decisions associated with a live performance.
Musical directors will conduct a group or orchestra. This involves having a clear idea about the performance of a piece of music and leading a group of musicians to realise this idea.
The director or conductor may carry out the following functions:
- Sets the pace of a musical performance and ensure that everyone plays or sings the right notes at the correct speed
- Interpret the musical score and whether musicians or singers should perform softly or loudly
- Balance instruments and voices against each other in a performance
- Lead rehearsals so that every piece is properly rehearsed in preparation for the performance.
Conductors often specialise in a particular type of music, perhaps the work of contemporary composers or early music.
Music directors work within a variety of different institutions and/or musical situations:
- Directing large professional orchestras and choruses - Principal conductors of large orchestras are involved not only in performing works, but also with the administration of the orchestra, planning programmes and working on long-term ideas
- Amateur orchestras and choirs - Many good amateur orchestras and choirs employ professional conductors to conduct concerts and train musicians and singers
- Involvement with church music – many large churches have a full-time musical staff which requires the involvement of a musical director
- Musical directing - Musical shows in the theatre have a musical director. Their job is to conduct the musical element of the show, directing both performers and the offstage musicians
- Recording music - Soundtracks for TV and films often use quite large groups of musicians, and a conductor or music director is needed
- Music education – major music colleges, as well as schools will often have a conductor or musical director.