Baton hold & exercises

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hello welcome to this fourth film in my

conducting fundamentals series today

we're going to be looking at how we hold

the baton and then doing some basic but

on wielding exercises roughly speaking

there are two ways to hold a battle one

is with your arm in a handshaking sort

of position one is with your hand in a

basketball bouncing position some people

will tell you that one or the other is

superior to all other forms of holding

the battle I wouldn't agree with that

for example Mexico Dolph and his grammar

of conducting book suggests that both

can be used and that one can indeed swap

from one to the other at times I would

very much go along with that however for

the beginning may I suggest that we go

with the former the handshaking position

in order to show you where the battle

goes I need to turn the hand over but

I'm going to turn it back again in a

moment the end of the battle where I've

got my bit of cork will go roughly at

the bottom of my middle finger pointing

across the the index finger so

roundabout where the first joint of the

index finger is and then that finger and

the middle finger will slightly wrap

around the battle and the thumb will

fall onto the top it won't hardly at all

touch the ring or little finger let me

just go over that again so I've got the

baton roughly at the end the end of the

baton rather roughly at the end of the

middle finger going across the index

finger and then I'm wrapping both of

those fingers slightly round the baton

and then completing the hold with the

thumb on the top and I'm now

turning my hand back so that it's in

that handshaking sort of position the

sort of place to have the arms is in a

roughly in a sort of diamond shape so

you're something like this or perhaps

we'll call it a tree-hugging shape

perhaps with a battle back there it

looks something like this

please also also know that my arms are

not here into my side my elbows are in

front of me and slightly up not

significantly like this so that I'm

resting on water but not into the side

at all and slightly forward from me not

so far forward that the that I go

straight in the arm here but certainly

not so far back that it's almost at 90

degrees something like this

the other thing please to note is the

position to which the baton is pointing

it's pointing roughly over first Holm's

head it isn't straight in that one

manner and it isn't straight in this

manner either it's both tilted this way

and tilted that way the reason being

that gives the best possibility for the

musicians in the orchestra to see the

battle this all this will have the

potential for cutting out sight from

some of the orchestra okay so having

given a sort of basic idea of how we're

going to have the baton let's look at

some exercises which will essentially be

to do with seeing that all the joints of

our baton holding end work in a

well-oiled manner

now I carefully said battle holding hand

there rather than right hand as I have

because some of you may be left-handed I

had a left-handed student who conducted

very successfully with his left hand I

have a friend who's a very good

left-handed conductor and there

are examples of very good left-handed

conductors around the world not very

many of course but there are there they

are there so if you're strongly

left-handed please don't be put off

please swap round and put the battle in

your other hand

however if you're somewhat ambidextrous

I would suggest you do use the right


books videos tutorials and such so forth

tend to simply go with the right end

being the baton holding hand and it'll

be much easier for you in the long run

if you are to do that okay so back to

those exercises the sorts of motions

that you make when you're conducting are

composed of two types of line one a

fairly straight line and one a curved

line course these occur all over the

place but we're going to practice these

in our basic exercises the first thing I

want you to do is actually without the

baton is just to swing your arm from

left to right across your body and to

really feel that it's swinging I don't

want you to control the arm here's me

controlling the arm it really does have

a bit of a stiff feel now that I'm

controlling it I've lost that's that

control now and I'm just trying to let

it swing like a pendulum while you're

doing that feel the acceleration as your

arm comes down to the middle of your

body and then the deceleration as it

goes beyond

now you can do that with the battle in

your hand as well again feeling that

acceleration and deceleration and also

remembering to check your posture that

you're standing well with no locked

knees or anything of the kind

okay that's just a bit of a warm-up

really the next thing I want to do is to

go down a central line an imaginary line

in the middle of your body so the baton

is going to come from here down like

that down way back over the top of your

head and coming right there and probably

hit you in the knees roughly the tip of

the baton is going down the center of

your body so if I did that in slow

motion I'm around about here

as the battle goes down okay let's just

do that again and we're just going to

get that smaller the moment I'm using

all of my arm but I'm going to make this

smaller smaller so that I'm actually

only now using my forearm you can check

that by just touching your upper arm

don't hold it no need for that just

touch it and you'll be able to tell if

it's moving or not using my forearm and

you'll also feel that your wrist it's

not moving like that of course but it is

very gently moving up and down check

that is happening you don't want your

wrist to be locked okay so we're still

doing this line down the center of our

bodies now we're going to do a line

across ways this way now this line is

not going to be directly facing me like

this it's going to be on a plane which

is round about there I may be

exaggerating slightly so if you were to

imagine that the end of your battle was

was a pencil that you would draw

with you would be drawing on a piece of

paper which was in this sort of angle at

this sort of angle here not at this sort

of angle okay so when we draw this line

across ways we're going there okay now I

can draw a little little larger my arm

will go around both to the right and

left of my body slightly again make sure

that your wrist is not stiff and is

allowed to just slightly move you're

particularly notices at the end of each

line good

so we've heard up-and-down lines we've

had side-to-side lines always keep

stopping yeah do a little bit stop check

that your battle is in the right

position that you're holding the battle

well that you're standing well the more

you do that now the better it will be

later on the less you'll have to do

stuff like that later on now we're going

to do some curved lines those were

fairly straight lines now we're doing

some curves

the first one is reasonably low down

drawing again with the tip of the baton

a large smile across the front of your

body although of course it will again be

in that sort of slightly oblique plane

okay so make it a nice smile

good then with the next ones we're going

to come back to our imaginary central

line and we're going to draw a little

smile on this side so I saw half sized

smile then we're going to draw a heart

draw a half size one on this side so

here we are on this side this will just

be the forearm and then I'll do it on

the other size just checking here that

my upper arm is staying pretty nice and

still of course a very good thing to do

is to put a mirror on the wall directly

opposite where you're conducting and

watch yourself conducting you'll be able

to see all of these things really easily

as well it's a useful way to check

what's going on okay so we've done a

little smile on one side a little smile

on the other side I'd like you to go

back and just do that smile with your

wrist so your forearm is now not moving

your five arms Victor Borge I would say

good and then finally we're going to do

another curve but this time the curve is

going from here up to the top on this

side and on this side okay so that

starts here and we'll start at the top

we'll go down and up and down and up

like that again let's just do with the

forearm and then let's close it down to

only do it with the wrist and then we'll

do it on this side of the imaginary line

okay so we're using the forearm I think

I was getting a little bit of upper arm

in there as well don't worry if there

happens okay so that's a forearm ocean

and then I'm going to touch my forearm

just so I can see that

doing this now only with the wrist now

all of those motions you can do in a

very free sort of manner but then it's

worth doing them at different speeds so

just think to yourself slow medium fast

perhaps I wouldn't suggest you put a

metronome on yourself you may well be

doing that at a later point

so the moment let's deal with this in

just a fairly general sort of way but

you can do each of those motions the big

swing down and up the central line the

across line the smile to one side the

smile to the other side and then the

sort of going up the slope on one side

and up the slope on the other side you

can do all of those at different speeds

now that's just a collection of little

basic exercises both to get you warmed

up and just to start on some of the

basic motions that you use in conducting

you can use these for a little while

perhaps a few minutes five minutes a day

ten minutes a day even if you're

starting to do other conducting things

at the same time it's a good way to

start off your practice