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1/9/2001: Are there times when it is actually wrong to follow the orchestra conductor? The conductor of our musicale admits that I follow his conducting impeccably, but he says that I should have followed the concertmaster instead. I am the keyboardist.

My initial reaction was in the negative, but I can think of one scenario that might lead us to this kind of request. As in almost any profession or craft, there is more than one school of conducting. In one school, the German school, the orchestra plays behind the beat. I do not conduct that way but, rather, prefer the orchestra to play with the beat. You should read nothing into this. Much great music has been made by conductors and orchestras in the German style.

If your orchestra and conductor play this way, then, you must understand something about the keyboard. That is, the keyboard will sound more quickly than other instruments. If you and your concertmaster attack your instruments at precisely the same moment, your keyboard will sound an instant sooner.

Now these are very small time increments, but a good conductor will certainly hear them and they will certainly have an effect on the ensemble and the ultimate sound.

If this is not the explanation, by the way, that is something else you must not read anything into. The field is large and the variables many.

2001 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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