On the Principles and Practice of Conducting

On the Principles and Practice of Conducting

Markand Thakar


University of Rochester Press



A practical manual for building musical understanding and physical skills, intended for conductors at all stages of development.
This book is a practical manual for anyone who stands on a podium helping an ensemble make music. The four main chapters address the major obligations of the conductor: (1) bringing the musical tones to life in the most beautiful, most moving way possible; (2) freeing the mind to fully absorb all the tones; (3) freeing the body of unnecessary tension; and (4) effectively using the freed mind and body to influence the sounds. Each chapter begins with a summary of the underlying principles, presents real-life applications, and offers exercises for developing skills.
Video demonstrations of the exercises as well as downloadable scores and parts are available on a companion website. The parts, in multiple transpositions, allow for hands-on experience where standard instrumental complements are unavailable.

Markand Thakar is music director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and a member of the graduate conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory. A protégé of the legendary Sergiu Celibidache and former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Thakar leads annual conductor-training programs that draw students from around the world. He is author of Looking for the "Harp" Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011) and Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (Yale University Press, 1990).


June 2016
12 black and white, 60 line illustrations
144 pages
9x6 in
ISBN: 9781580465403
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS008000, MUS006000
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Table of Contents

Make Beautiful Music: Involving Singularity of Tones in Succession and of Tones Sounding Simultaneously
Free the Mind, Hear Everything: Connecting the Open Consciousness to All the Sounds, All the Time
Free the Body: Involving the Necessity of Freeing the Body from Unnecessary Muscle Tensions
Be the Music: Applying the Free Body in the Service of a Maximally Beautiful Performance
Addendum A. Starting, Stopping, and Fermatas: Achieving a Collective Sense of When to Begin and End the Sound
Addendum B. Odds and Ends: A Miscellany of Matters Musical, Physical, and Practical


What distinguishes Markand Thakar as a conductor and a teacher is the unique balance he achieves between the technical and the emotional contents of music, and the ability to communicate that balance to both audiences and students. It is that quality that runs throughout this book, and it is that quality that makes this book both different from others and extraordinarily valuable.
--Henry Fogel, dean, Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University

With insight into into how mind and body contribute effectively, On the Principles and Practice of Conducting offers a fresh and highly detailed approach to successful music-making from the podium. The online video demonstrations clearly solve a multitude of technical issues confronting conductors. A must read for all students of conducting!
--David Effron, Professor of Orchestral Conducting, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University

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