Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of preconducting and conducting behaviors on perceptions of conductor competence. We modified and extended a previous research study (Frederickson et al., 1998) and asked undergraduate college musicians (N = 214) to evaluate recorded videos of conductors that displayed combinations of poor and excellent preconducting and conducting behaviors. These behaviors included stepping onto a podium, preparing conducting materials, and conducting one measure in 4/4 time. Participants were also asked to describe the factors that impacted their ratings via open-ended questions. Results of a conducting behavior × order interaction signified that although participants’ ratings were influenced by preconducting behavior conditions, the effect was mitigated by order. Results also indicated that observers’ evaluations of conductors’ competence began immediately. Analysis of free-response questions indicated that conducting technique, eye contact, facial expressions, and conductors’ perceived confidence level impacted participants’ ratings of conductors. Given the importance of preconducting behaviors on participants’ ratings of conductors’ competence in our study, several suggestions are presented for university faculty who teach undergraduate conducting courses. Recommendations for future research are also discussed.

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