ISU Students Learn How to Lead Without Using Words

AMES, Iowa- This time of year many are heading to Christmas concerts at schools or community centers.

For those who are leading such programs, there is training for future conductors at Iowa State University’s School of Music.

Jacob Harrison has a doctorate in music, he’s studied at the University of Texas, and Arizona State. He leads freshmen and sophomore students in conducting class.

“For most of their musical life they've been told do it like this, softer, loud, sharp, or flat, from band directors and coral directors,” said Harrison. “The thing we have to start with is talking about leadership, responsibilities of being on podium, and leading a group of people.”

The students learn basic conducting techniques, and how to use the nuance of their movements to communicate.

“It’s non-verbal communication, your goal is to be efficiency experts,” said Harrison. “Our job is to convey the most amount of information non-verbally in the most direct and specific way possible that we can.”
“I think it’s a lot of fun, at first I was super scared, in front of your peers and everything,” said Christian Loaiza, from Perry. “But we have a really great teacher.” Loaiza plans to be a high school band director.

“Sometimes it’s easy and you really get it, sometimes you have to practice a little more,” said
Carly Ites, from Spirit Lake who plans to be a high school vocal teacher.

The class makes it worthwhile for these students.

“It’s really rewarding when you’re up in front, and you are able to make beautiful music,” said Bailey Cook, of West Des Moines. She plans to teach music in elementary schools.