Friday, May 2, 2008

The Perfect Swing and the Pefect Gesture?

I always thought that a great choral conducting doctoral dissertation would be "The Correlation Between Good Conducting Technique, and the Perfect Golf Swing". Ok, it probably wouldn't be up for the Julius Herford Prize, but nevertheless, it is one that I would probably put on my required reading list for my conducting courses.

About ten years ago, nearly eleven now, when I first moved to Edmonton to begin graduate studies in choral conducting, I was what you'd call a "weekend hacker" in the golf world. I thought I played OK, averaged about 108 strokes a round, parred a few holes, even birdied one or two. I then found out that both my supervisor and a new friend, also a choral conductor, were avid golfers. I was very happy about this - until I played with them for the first time. Not realizing that one was a mid-teen handicap, and the other nearly a scratch (zero) handicap. I felt completely useless, and at time utterly embarrassed to be playing with them.

Over the next few years, I found that they were very patient people, and also good teachers of the game, and I steadily improved over time. I also started to find some comparisons between the golf swing, and conducting gesture. Things like foot positioning, weight transfer, using gravity to your advantage and tempo. I even discovered an "ictus" in golf (ball striking). Since that time I've had a few lessons, joined a club, and have been as low as a 14 handicap. I've had a hole in one, and have seen the low 80s on my card a number of times. I have also beat my supervisor in a game or two (I don't recommend you do this prior to your defense date), and now I play upwards to sixty round a year. Up here, our golf season starts early May, and ends late November. Today was day one!

Every once in a while, when I am coaching a conducting student I catch myself saying something like "it's just like timing a perfect golf swing" and then I look to see a blank face and realize "oh ya, that dissertation hasn't been written yet ... someday, you'll understand ..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is most interesting. Undoubtedly changes in bodily health affect both. I wonder if James Levine plays golf?