Anwser of the Week

I’ve had some thoughtful comments on my Question of the Week post.

My answer is this- I think it’s both cool and good that graduates from the RCICW don’t all look like graduates of the RCICW.

Interestingly, some of the more experienced and advanced students did also look most representative of their respective schools, and were the least changed by the end of the week. Of course, why fix what ain’t  broke? Still, I hope that as they work and develop and continue to study, that they’ll find more and more of their own vocabulary.

Ultimately, the real conducting teacher is the score. To me, the real value of a conducting workshop is not in teaching people how to conduct, but in making them more aware of how they are conducting. My colleagues and I want them to be more self-aware in evaluating what they are doing when they study and when they’re on the podium, and to give them a bigger tool box to use in creating their own performances.

We all go through stages of modeling our teachers, but nobody would ever say that Bernstein ended up looking like Fritz Reiner, his teacher at Curtis, or that Carlos Kleiber ended up looking much like his dad, Erich. I’m glad that nobody seemed particularly pressured to copy my style (although I don’t demonstrate tons at these things, anyway) or that of Chris or David, but I’d love for them to be more questioning of their current influences over the coming months. Imitation is a shortcut we all have to let go of eventually.

c. 2007 Kenneth Woods

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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