I've been teaching various levels of conducting at the University level now since I began doctoral studies about seven years ago. Since then I have taught everything from the basic introduction courses to 400 level advanced courses in Choral Conducting. This semester I am teaching the Advanced Choral Conducting to a very small, but somewhat enthusiastic class of seven students.
I think I surprise a fair number of students, most of which have only taken the basics of conducting, and some of them under the extreme regime of the new professor who feels they should know everything about the Saito method of conducting. (Don't get me wrong, I am an avid believer of the Saito conducting method, and I also do a few lectures with Saito as a guide - but to do a full three months of it would be a bit tiresome, unless you were being taught by Saito himself I think). So the pressure to do everything technically perfectly, show every cue, keep the left hand from mirroring, and to not lip-sync while conducting is something that is fresh on most of their minds. Most intro courses are based on the principles of conducting large orchestras, and seldom incorporate anything to do with choirs. What's worse, in my opinion, is that few of these instructors require any of the these students to demonstrate MUSICALITY. It's all about "4 inches more this way ... 2 inches that way ... left hand moving 6 degrees that way ..."
So on the first class I look at them all in the eye and say. "You all know how to conduct now - you've proven this in your intro class, so, my goal this term is to get you to show emotion in your conducting - passion for the music - and understanding of the text, and relationship with the music - and how to convey that to a choir".
Ok, so sure - I do spend time fixing loose wrists and bouncy left hands, and make them do complicated hybrid metres, but 80% of their evaluation will be on HOW they transmit the musical elements in their conducting. Not just gesture, but facial expression - EYES - enjoyment, or in some cases, how to convey sadness, the ethos of a character, the passion of a sad lover. So, their first assignment? English madrigals. "Weep o mine eyes and cease not!" (no, not see snot ... cease not!). They will be required to show proper conducting patterns, cues, releases and all that sort of technical clearly, but above all - can they give a performance? Can they Evoke emotion? Is this too much for a 4th year music or Education major to do?
Have I mentioned that I love teaching?