The Effect of Conductors on Ensemble Evaluations
Undergraduate music and music education majors (N = 131) scored stimulus video recordings of conductors and ensembles with seven conductors directing an identical performance of a college wind band composition from the performer's (front) and audience's (back) perspectives. Participants provided written suggestions and a numeric rating for each conductor and ensemble stimuli. The comments were used to develop emergent themes and trends were found regarding positive and negative influences of the conductor and performance. Two aspects of the comments were of particular interest: (1) the most common comment for the ensemble regarded following the conductor (along with musical expression), which were predominantly positive even though the performance was identical for all conductors, and (2) expressivity was a focus for both the conductor and ensemble comments even though participants were rating quality. Results indicated that there was a significant (p < .0001) conductor impact on the conductor and ensemble performance evaluations, even though the performances were identical. The conductor scores were strongly related to the ratings of the ensemble performances. It was also found that conductors viewed from the front or back had a significant (p < .01) impact on participant evaluations of conductors but not ensembles.