Music director

 2 March 2011

Music directors are responsible for making the creative decisions associated with a live performance.

Philip Bateman is a musical director and singing coach. He teaches songs, arranges vocal harmonies, conducts cast and band for a musical.
Philip Bateman is a musical director and singing coach. He teaches songs, arranges vocal harmonies, conducts cast and band for a musical.

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.

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