MUSIC 308, a basic conducting course, is where many of the students who conduct devotional are recruitedfrom, said Darrel Brown, a Music Department instructor.
“It’s actually a pretty intensive course even though it’s only a onecredit class,” Brown said.
Brown said that the course requires students to do six class conducting tests as well as a final.
Brown said students have to conduct arrangements ranging from simple hymns to more complex concert arrangements.
“The class focuses on basic conducting patterns, like in the back of the hymn book, and special techniques that make the patterns more musical, or direct the music better,” Brown said.
Brown said that because students have to learn to conduct confidently in front of groups of people, the leaders who run devotional select students from this class in order to help students gain confidence, and because it is more manageable that way.
“We don’t have tons of opportunities to conduct as peers, so devotional plays into that,” Brown said.
Brown said conducting for devotional is sometimes a requirement for his students.
“If I have to assign, then I’ll assign, but usually there are enough people interested that they volunteer,” Brown said.
Molly Patrick, a senior studying music, said she volunteered and conducted devotional during Winter Semester 2015.
Patrick said it was not as intimidating as students might imagine.
“You can’t really see the audience because of all the stage lights,” Patrick said. “The weirdest part is you have to smile, and you can’t see anyone, including yourself, so you’re basically conducting for no one.”
Patrick said there is much more to conducting than people may think.
“If you move before you want the music to start, your beginning is going to be ambiguous,” Patrick said. “Also, facial expressions and body language are huge. They play a major role in how the music will come out.”
James Densley, a senior studying music, was assigned to conduct devotional this past winter semester.
“Conducting an instrumental ensemble is a lot different than conducting 2,000 people,” Densley said.
Densley said there are certain factors you have to consider — like how there are delays due to how far the sound travels in such a huge space.
Densley said he had to consider the delays between the organist and him, and the audience and him and the delay of the sound traveling around the room.
“So you’ve got three different interpretations of the tempo,” Densley said. “So basically all I did is I just stood there and ignored all of it and tried to keep going.”
Densley said due to his experiences in the past, he was not intimidated at all by having to conduct in front of the student body, and he would recommend the experience to others.