MUSA320-21W (A) Whole Year 2021 (The Arts Centre Christchurch)


30 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 21 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 27 August 2021


Fundamental conducting techniques and experience in front of choir, ensemble and orchestra.

This course seeks to provide you with an introduction to developing skills and experience as a conductor and musical leader, whether of instrumental groups, choirs, or conducting from within an ensemble while also playing/singing. Involved in this study is not just the mechanics of ‘waving your hands around’, though that is where we do start; it also involves some detailed discussions of the psychology of rehearsing and performing from the viewpoint of leading/directing an ensemble. We touch on the administrative realities of leading a musical entity, even if it is “simple” as being a leader/organizer of a string quartet or rock band etc.

Along the way, there is constant reference to learning about as much repertoire as you can – either through class discussion, or through your own pathways of discovery: this you will be encouraged to document (in a “scrapbook”). This is an important resource to provide you with referential fuel for your future endeavours leading an ensemble – whether in informal or amateur surrounds, or indeed leading a professional concern such as a choir or orchestra.

An essential part of the course is observing how others rehearse, conduct and lead an ensemble. At mutually agreed upon times, you will be invited to attend rehearsals of a number of ensembles and this will be the basis of discussion in our classes that follow those respective experiences.

Enriching perspectives – on tangential topics – will be explored as the year progresses. For example, around the study of certain repertoires, we will delve into the current understanding(s) of the performance practice of various historical repertoires. With regard to contemporary music practices, we will look at the conductor as orchestrator in the context of scoring session-work, for example.

Learning Outcomes

  • An ability to conduct the basic patterns, cuing, and character motions in front of an ensemble
  • An ability to critique and observe performances and rehearsals of other musicians/conductors
  • Demonstrate a modest understanding of repertoire both historical and contemporary
  • Engage in developing an efficient and relatively tension-free use of the body while conducting
  • Develop an ability to speak (coherently) in public
  • Demonstrate an ability to rehearse effectively and personably
  • Demonstrate an ability to read scores
  • Transferable skills: Public performing; setting and achieving goals; time management; performance under pressure; self-assessment and persistence; self-motivation; connection with community.


MUSA201 or approval by Head of School



Equivalent Courses


Timetable Note

Student workload (150 hours) will be allocated to:
• 48 hours attending the class
• 24 hours attending performances and rehearsals
• 28 hours preparing for specific class tasks and projects: scores, basic conducting motions etc.
• 50 hours researching repertoire, conducting practices, rehearsal approaches et al – documented in the ‘scrapbook’

Course Coordinator

Mark Menzies


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Written Statement 2.5%
Written Statement 2.5%
Performance 1 10%
Performance 2 20%
In Class Test 10%
Take-home Test 10%
Listening Exam 1 10%
Class Engagement 35%

There are a total of 8 separate components to the class that form the total grade assessment for the year. Please do not be alarmed at this high number: as you will see, most are to do with engagement with the subject, rather than submitting you to a competitive test situation, per se – though a few of those are in there too.
A schedule of class topics, performances and test dates and/or assessment due dates are available with the course outline.

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,754.00

International fee $8,400.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 6 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts .

All MUSA320 Occurrences

  • MUSA320-21S2 (A) Semester Two 2021 (The Arts Centre Christchurch)
  • MUSA320-21W (A) Whole Year 2021 (The Arts Centre Christchurch)