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2/13/10: Why do some conductors use such small batons? Some look more like a toothpick than anything else!

It is true that conductors who move very little will usually use something quite large and those who move a great deal will tend to use something smaller. Partly this is a question of visibility. A larger baton makes a bigger picture. But this is also a good thing because some pretty awful accidents have happened—injuries to others and to the conductors themselves. See the paragraph on the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully at Wikipedia, but there are more.

This leads to a related subject which is the material and shaping of a baton. Mine are custom-made and of a light-weight and flexible balsa wood; they are also blunt rather than pointed. I have a variety of batons of various lengths and switch around depending on the repertory and the performing conditions (though none is very large or very small and switching is not frequent).

2010 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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