Showing the Music: An Exploration of the Effect of Expressive Conducting on Elementary Band Performance

Open Access
Nation, Christopher
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Linda Carol Porter Thornton, Thesis Supervisor
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Honors Advisor
  • conducting
  • band
  • elementary band
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of expressive conducting on elementary band performance. One music teacher conducted a fifth grade band using both strict and expressive conducting styles. The strict conducting consisted of a simple time beating pattern, no facial expression, and no eye contact. The expressive conducting included expressive gestures, dynamic changes through gesture size, eye contact, specific cues, and emotive facial expressions. The band was given a single verbal cue prior to performance in order to encourage focus on the conductor. Both styles were performed on the same one-minute excerpt from the same piece of music and the band’s performance was recorded. The recordings were then analyzed by a group of senior collegiate music education majors. Analysis criteria included dynamic contrast, phrasing, style, precision, overall expressiveness, overall musical effect, and overall performance. The results indicated that the expressive conducting did have a significant effect on ensemble performance.