Empowering 21st Century Conductor-Educators


The idea for this thesis topic arose when I was asked to teach the choral conducting module at my alma mater, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). Considering that circa 25% of each cohort go on to be future music teachers with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and that a significant majority of NAFA’s Singaporean graduates lead or coach choral or instrumental ensembles in schools and institutions of all levels, a conducting module of this nature needs to cultivate music leaders I would term as ‘Conductor-Educator’. (Please refer to Chapter 2 ‘Who is the Conductor-Educator?‘ for definition). Some of the central questions that arose in the process of curriculum planning include:

  • What are the challenges faced by a 21st century conductor-educator?
  • What sort of character, personality and skillsets must these conductors have in order to overcome these challenges?
  • What philosophy, methodology and concepts should we employ to equip and empower these future conductors?
  • What is the function of choral music in the 21st century?

As part of the investigations into this thesis topic, an interview with distinguished conductor-educator Professor Péter Erdei titled “Conducting, Conductor-Training and Competitions” was done. It is hoped that this interview transcript can shed some light on subject matter that can be highly subjective and controversial. A hour long video of this interview can be found in the archives of the Kecskemét Kodály Institute.

It is hoped this thesis could also arouse interest and thought in addressing some of the issues through an exploration of conductor training. As a reflection of the Zeitgeist with its overwhelming speed of communication, I have opted to avoid erudite language in favour of simple prose, graphic illustrations and point form summaries – concision and clarity of language that promotes dissemination, discussion and debate of knowledge should be the way forward in the globalized village of the 21st century where time is our most precious commodity.

Albert Tay

27 March 2012