Monday, March 9, 2015


This Rehearsal is Available to You in High Definition | Tuba Master Class - Missouri State University

This Rehearsal is Available to You in High Definition
by Dr. Thomas McCauley
This article was written by Dr. Thomas McCauley, Director of University Bands at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. The information is from a handout at a session Dr. McCauley did at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. It is being re-published with permission from the author.

"If you want the opportunity to work with better players, make the players you have better."
-- Larry Rachleff

What is a High Definition Rehearsal?

In a highly defined rehearsal, the score comes to live as a multi-dimensional entity and each student is made aware of his or her role in the musical dialogue. It is said that the greatest actors in the world are the ones who are best at listening and reacting to what they hear and feel. Our students need to be made aware that the most valuable tool they bring to every rehearsal and performance is their ability to listen to what is happening around them at all times and the ability to react accordingly.

Why? Because while in a professional musical organization, we rehearse because we perform, but in a school-based musical organization, we perform because we rehearse! The rehearsal is NOT a means to an end.

Elements of a Highly Defined Rehearsal Include:

  • Highly Defined Tempo
    • Printed Tempo / Real Tempo
    • Player Pulse / Conductor Pulse

  • Highly Defined Balance and Color
    • Instrument Combinations and Balances
    • They only have their lines! They need the context!
    • Printed Dynamics / Real Dynamics / Volume Choices

  • Highly Defined Intent
    • What do I want this music to sound like?
    • Your preparation: discovery - imagination - internalization
    • Can I describe both verbally and non-verbally to my students what I want?

Conducting is NOT 'Acting,' But...
There are many commonalities between great actors and great conductors.


  • find/unleash the essence of the character within the text/score
  • are able to access different aspects of their experience that are 'similar' to the character/music
  • have 'technique' that is invisible
  • use the power in the text/score to carry the day
  • research, immerse themselves in, connect with the essence of the character/music
  • inject the text/score into themselves
  • BECOME the character/music
  • have performances that come from within and are slightly different each time
  • are fearless in their approach, unafraid to explore depths of their personalities/psyches and to deal with what they find/feel
  • listen and react to what they hear/feel

There are many commonalities between "movie stars" and "less than great" conductors.


  • Play 'themselves' in every role, in every piece
  • Use the power of their personality and presence to carry the day
  • Inject themselves into the text/score
  • Superimpose their charisma onto the role/score
  • Have surface-level performances
  • Play the character/notes
  • Are interested in WHAT is in the text/score and not WHY it is there
  • Have performances that are well-rehearsed repetitions of choreographed movements and expressions

Three Additional Goals for each rehearsal

At least:

  • One Moment of Beauty
  • One Moment of Realization
  • One Moment of Fun