Stand Partners for Life

Stand Partners for Life

038: Do we really need a conductor?

March 03, 2020

Here at Stand Partner HQ, we get this question a lot! And that should tell you something without even knowing the answer. Nobody asks what a pilot does, or if we really need one for our airplanes. But the conductor's role isn't nearly so obvious, to our audiences and even, at times, to us!

Do we really need someone up front "driving the train"? Do a conductor's responsibilities begin and end with a downbeat and a final cutoff?

Key points

* Akiko's forthcoming appearance on the Every Little Thing podcast* Audience fixation on the conductor as the focal point of an orchestra* The job of the conductor during rehearsal and performance* Giving instruction vs. providing a "guiding current"* Examples of time wasting, directionless rehearsal* Examples of showing appreciation for the work of the players; giving credit where it's due* Petty retaliation: talking in rehearsals and other signs of discontent* Setting aside grudges for the concert and putting the music ahead of everything else* Do musicians always agree who's a great conductor?* How to balance exerting control and letting go of it* The "dreaded hand": play quieter!* Components of a perfect conductor; designing the Robo-conductor!


Every Little Thing Podcast

Gimlet Media 


Sean Connery

Full Metal Jacket

Andrew Manze


Kurtwood Smith




[00:00:01] NC: Hi and welcome back to Stand Partners for Life. I’m Nathan Cole.

[00:00:04] AT: I am Akiko Tarumoto.

[00:00:18] NC: And today we are talking about conductors and not just because we see a conductor all the time at work, see many conductors. There’s actually a special reason, that’s because you are going to be a featured guest on another podcast.

[00:00:33] AT: Yeah.

[00:00:33] NC: I couldn’t be more proud. It’s like a spinoff of Stand Partners. It’s great. We got a call from the show Every Little Thing, which is a Gimlet Media show. They answer or try to answer questions that you can’t find out just by Googling. Their recent example was how to police sketch artists really. Can they really come up with a picture that’s so close to the person you’re thinking of and they went through it. It was really fascinating, and all the episodes come from listener questions. It’s actually a great idea for this show.

[00:01:13] AT: It’s true. Should steal that.

[00:01:16] NC: I know. I think I might. They actually play the call – If someone calls in and leaves a message, it’s very 90s. You have to leave a message on the machine. In this case, someone was calling up to say if, "I were ever the victim of a crime, I would be the worst witness. There was no way the police could ever pick up the person because I wouldn’t be able to describe to a sketch artist anybody’s face. I’m the worst and I really don’t believe the sketch artist could help me. Do they really work?"

They actually found a sketch artist. So that was the expert on the call and they had this person describe ...