Development of an instrument to assess conducting gesture and validation of its use in orchestral performance



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The purpose of this study was to (a) develop an instrument to assess the gesture capability of orchestra conductors in direct relation to ensemble response, and (b) explore the relationship between gesture effectiveness and performance quality. A systematic procedure was used. First, a panel of expert conductors reviewed a list of conductor gesture functions, characteristics, and contexts which had been synthesized by the researcher from the literature on conducting. The experts determined the feasibility of using the list as a basis for an observation instrument. Modifications suggested by the experts resulted in a list of ten conductor gesture functions, characteristics and contexts. This list became the basis for the Gesture Response Instrument (GRI). Next, 20 high school orchestra directors were videotaped under controlled performance conditions. Ten of the conductors were designated as "stronger" gesturers and ten designated "weaker" by three music administrators. All 20 conducted the same piece with the same orchestra. A unique scoring method was developed for the GRI which takes both conducting gesture and immediate orchestra response to gesture into account. Four trained observers scored each of the 20 videotaped performances using the GRI. [...]