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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000895.txt from 2003/06

From: Jeremy A Schiffer <>
Subj: [kl] Left handed conducting
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 12:17:04 -0400

On Wed, 25 Jun 2003, myke cuthbert wrote:

> Several great conductors are left handed, however, to the best of my
> knowledge, they all still give the beat pattern with their right
> hands. Most conducting teachers will make everyone use their right
> hand for the beat pattern because it's where orchestral musicians
> expect to see the beat. In 4/4, is beat 2 the one that goes to the
> right (from the performer's perspective) or the one that goes inward?
> Normally it's both, but if the conductor is using her left hand then
> it might be one or the other, and it could be easy to confuse.

When I conducted the Holst First Suite during college, I began with the
baton in my left hand. The orchestra conductor happened to be sitting in
on a rehearsal and he yelled at me to change hands. When I inquired
whether it bothered anyone in the ensemble (you know, the people actually
playing), the unanimous comments were that no one had even noticed. It
should be noted that I had run through all three movements of the piece
before the orchestra conductor made his comments.

Personally, I think it is better to conduct with the left hand, because
then you are not forced to cross your body to reach for the score when you
need to turn the page.

In the end, I used my right hand because I didn't want to provoke any more
arguments in the departments, as I was already on the doo-doo list of
several faculty members.

It is my opinion, from my experience, that musicians are smart enough to
recognize a beat pattern, regardless of whether it's inverted, and that
the prohibition of left-handed baton use serves no practical purpose.


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