I am going to use today’s Around the Web to point out the new site aimed at theatre music directors, the aptly named theatremusicdirectors.org. It is the sister site of MusiciansWages and already contains many useful titbits of advice and information for people who work (or want to) in the creation of music for the theatre. It does have a slight focus on musical theatre, but contains some useful pointers nonetheless.
How much you can give your musicians isn’t just up to your own skills as a music director. It is also up to your musicians’ skills. When you conduct a slow 4/4 in 8, it might not be as clear for high school students as it might be for Broadway players. Or when you start to subdivide in the middle of a measure, it might not be as powerful for community theatre musicians as it might be for professionals.
As music directors, we do not need to tell our players the details of the show.
-Because it takes time away from rehearsing: a good rule of thumb is to have the band play at least 80% of the time, and to speak no more than 20% of the time.
-Because it doesn’t make much of a difference to the musicians.
(I actually disagree with this, having both MD’d and played in pit bands. Knowing the dramatic context of the music you are playing gives you a great deal of information about style, cues, timing, and helps you enjoy the performance a little more. I believe that an orchestra that knows roughly what is happening while they are playing will be more responsive and sensitive).
Instrumental partsthat need a cue: Cue a section when they first start playing, when they’ve had a long rest, and before an important solo.Not all cues are marked in the conductor’s score. Make sure to listen through the show, and compare each part with your own to add any important cues you’re missing in your score.
The more prepared you are, the easier the rehearsal will be.
(This last sentence is the most important piece of advice I can give to any Music Director, Composer, arranger or performer.)
It’s early days yet, and although there is a mixed bag of content at the moment, this could be a productive resource for this kind of thing.