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Blog - James Rose

Conducting at Royal Academy of Music – The Evaluation

James Rose Conducting next to Sian Edwards

Photo taken by Çağlar Kimyoncu (filmpro)

My last post was about my preparation for the project week and now I’m reporting back on what happened. I’m pleased to say that the project at Royal Academy of Music in May went extremely well.  I’ve taken the liberty of providing you with an audio recording of the pieces I wrote for this project just in case you wish to listen whilst reading the rest of this post!  Once you have reached the end, you can watch the project film and read the official report written by Jen Farrant.

I’ve uploaded a piece of music from Conducting Development Week onto SoundCloud.

The project week started with a one-to-one with Sian Edwards at North London Music Academy on the Monday. We discussed how I should approach score preparation and what this entails.

Technically speaking, these types of discussions started the week prior during a weekly visit to the Royal Academy of Music’s MA Conducting classes.

However, this one-to-one on the Monday was an opportunity to dig deeper into breaking down the score(s) into appropriate phrasing.

Close-up of a Digitally Marked First Page of Mozart's Divertimento (first movement), k136 125a

Photo was taken by James Rose

Outside of my contact with Sian, I successfully found a way of marking digital scores using Adobe Acrobat’s commenting feature.  Please see my previous blog post covering this subject. This method works albeit offering a clunky work flow.

My preparation for the first day with the quartet included preparing parts and score. However, I did not consider the structure of the sessions and the relationship between this and the material to be rehearsed. This lead to repetitive playing in the first quartet session on the Tuesday causing physical and mental exhaustion in the players risking low morale. My approach and attitude, and that of those in the room was based in theory and hesitance.

I therefore created a rough session schedule before each of the remaining days that week (Tuesday – Friday). This enabled faster progression; forcing me to concentrate on identifying opportunities to make smaller refinements to the performance. This improved the trust of the players in my musicality and ability, adding to the creative flow of the sessions. Thus shifting focus from seeing whether I could conduct to “the actual material of playing the music” (Sian Edwards).  This in turn improved my conducting.


Photo taken by Çağlar Kimyoncu (filmpro)

I am pleased that all players felt included in the creative process creating a team spirit within the room. For the first day, I had a mentor sat next to me throughout.  Once my mentors stood aside only intervening where necessary, I found it easier to migrate from a theoretical realm to becoming more practical in running rehearsals.  Creating a team-spirited environment was always one of my personal goals. I purposely did not declare this to anyone. This was to avoid any pretext, thus stemming the chances of it happening. All of the players, however, voluntarily commended the team spirit in the round table discussion at the end of project week.

There were so many amazing people involved in this project, making it possible.  Everyone – the musicians, film team, mentors, Jen the evaluator, and Julian and Ellie from the Open Academy department at Royal Academy of Music – all mucked in and were a pleasure to create with.  There were many other people behind the scenes to whom I am grateful for their help and support including all the project partners.

We have created two versions of the project film – one with audio description and one without.

The Audio Described version of the Project Film can be viewed on YouTube at: (this link will open in a new tab or window)

Or a standard version of the Project Film can be viewed at: (this link will open in a new tab or window)

The project report is available as a PDF and is hosted on GoogleDrive (for which does not require any sign-in).  Therefore, the report will open in GoogleDrive within your Internet browser tab/ window.  You may have to download the report on to your computer and open it using a PDF reader enable the web links inside the report.

Conducting Development Week (2nd-6th May): Project Report by Jen Farrant (this link will open the PDF document in a new tab or window)

Thanks to DAO for hosting this blog for me – they’re amazing!  You can follow my twitter account @jamesrosetweets where I’ll be posting updates on upcoming projects. Further details on the project can be found at http/:/

Conducting Development Week title graphic. Project partners: Arts Council England, Drake Music, filmpro, Royal Academy of Music, Disability Arts Online, Orchestra of St. John's, and Together 2012.

Photo taken by Hana-Zushi Rhodes, Royal Academy of Music

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3 years ago

Great to see that your career has advanced further since your project at Royal Academy of Music last year, James

3 years ago

Congratulations on your blog. I have read great personal stories. I am also a musician and teacher. I’ve been following your work. Success.

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