The Effect of Nonverbal Elements of Conducting on the Overall Evaluation of Student and Professional Conductors
A study is presented that examines the relationship between nonverbal elements of conducting when assessed by students and professionals in student conducting performances. Five basic elements of conducting - right arm movement, left arm movement, eye contact, facial expression, and body movement - were studied for overall performance perception, as well as the focus of attention. Three groups of subjects viewed excerpts of 15 student and professional conductors. Subjects in Group 1 evaluated the conductors on a positive/negative continuum. Group 2 tracked their focus of attention during the conducting performance based on the identified elements. Subjects in Group 3 were divided into five subgroups, each avaluating one of the identified elements, and evaluated each conductor on a positive/negative scale for their assigned element alone. Results of correlating data from Group 1 and 3 indicated that the right arm was the most consequential element for student conductors, while the left arm and facial expression were more important for the professionals. Focus of attention data reflected that participants focused more on the right arm for students, while the overall effect was most salient for the professionals.