Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Robert D. McCashin


The purpose of this study was to evaluate how effectively current high school orchestra directors demonstrate the elements of conducting. To do this, I first selected what elements of conducting would be evaluated and then defined what is effective for each. From this, I created a conductor evaluation form consisting of a 1-Not Effective to 5-Effective rating scale to score how effectively each element is demonstrated. The results would later address the primary research questions:

  1. What elements of conducting do high school orchestra directors demonstrate most effectively?
  2. What elements of conducting do high school orchestra directors demonstrate least effectively?

Current high school orchestra directors from all parts of Virginia and portions of Maryland and Washington, D.C. were contacted to take part in this study. Twenty conductors from diverse regions of Virginia and Maryland agreed to participate. The participation of the conductors involved signing a consent form and then allowing me to digitally video record them conducting in their normal high school orchestra rehearsal setting. After all participants were recorded, I reviewed the video recordings to evaluate each element of conducting for each participant. Scores were then compiled to gain an understanding of which elements were demonstrated most and least effectively.

The results indicate that high school orchestra directors demonstrate most effectively the technical elements of conducting: beat pattern, tempo, breath, and conducting area. The results, even more strongly, indicate that high school orchestra directors demonstrate least effectively the expressive elements of conducting: efficient joints, style in both non-dominant and dominant hands, and dynamics in both non-dominant and dominant hands.

This qualitative study is limited and intended to inform those involved in the academic conducting community about the current state of conducting demonstrated by high school orchestra directors. It simply evaluates the physical elements of conducting and is not designed to provide a total conductor effectiveness rating nor evaluate the musical effectiveness, teacher effectiveness, or effectiveness of student understanding or learning.



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