By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – A swimming pool might not seem like the most conventional place to teach students how to conduct music.
But for University of Nebraska at Kearney Professor David Bauer and his 12 students in Music 407 Choral Conducting class, standing in five feet of water offers the perfect lesson in understanding the strength and proper technique required to conduct.
Call it a “unique training opportunity,” said Bauer.
“When it comes to conducting, to a lot of people it looks like anybody can do it. In reality, it can be very physically demanding.”
Especially if done improperly.
“Hand and body positioning is incredibly important. By getting in the pool, and dealing with the resistance water offers, it forces us to recognize correct hand position and use proper technique,” added Bauer. “The water resistance allows them to quickly sense and feel the concept of linear, or legato, pull of a musical phrase.”
Bauer has taught at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for 31 years. This is the first time he’s incorporated the pool into his teaching.
For 35 minutes, UNK students went through “all the different meters they will ever conduct, including all the different cutoffs on different counts of those meters.”
Bauer said it only took about five minutes in the pool for his students to see how much difference using proper technique made.
“It is tougher than it looks,” he said. “You have to be in shape and have some arm strength to conduct. The jokes ended about 10 minutes in, which is when most of them were really hurting.”
Bauer also had the UNK students sing while conducting underwater to help them focus on text and melody.