Performer Perceptions of Effective Conductor Traits
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Ward Woodbury noted in his 1955 article, Leadership in Orchestral Conducting, “It is generally recognized that success in the conducting field is not the result of musical ability alone.” Based on questionnaire responses submitted from 103 orchestra performers and 12 conductors, this study ranked 19 personal and professional traits perceived to be “necessary” in highly effective conductors from most to least essential. This questionnaire, however, was administered nearly 60 years ago when 98 out of the 103 responses were elicited from male orchestral performers and conductors. The present study seeks to recreate Ward Woodbury’s 1955 study using questions similar to those issued via mail by Woodbury. Based on questionnaire responses, I will compare how perceptions of “necessary” conductor traits have changed from those illustrated in Woodbury’s 1955 study. I will also focus on the role that gender has played in changing perceptions and which traits, if any, are considered consistently effective for female respondents in comparison to their male counterparts. Finally, as illustrated in Woodbury’s study, I will collect a list of conductor “don’ts,” comparing how these “don’ts” have changed from those collected by Woodbury in 1955.