My Experience as a Musical Director + Tips

Last year in my society, Curtain Call Musical Theatre Society, I was the musical director (MD) for the show The Addams Family. As a part of my role as MD, I taught all of the singing to the cast, found the band for the show and conducted every performance.

I found this to be both a stressful but rewarding experience for myself, it was stressful because of unforeseen circumstances and a lack of organisation within the show, I never knew whether I was coming or going unless it was my Wednesday rehearsal. However, no matter how stressful the rehearsal process was, each night was as rewarding as the last, especially when the band sound insane, harmonies are on point and dances don’t miss a beat! The whole show was a rollercoaster of emotions, as we do the shows alongside our degrees there were many a time where I walked into the rehearsal room, laid on the floor and cried just before everyone was due in (I mean lets be real, many people saw my Wednesday breakdowns about a river) then as soon as 1:30 hit picked myself back up and got on with rehearsal. I loved being the MD for Addams and I’m now dabbling into directing for our current show of Guys and Dolls.

Anyway, over the course of the show and my previous experiences as an MD I thought I would give 10 quick tips on how to be a better MD if you ever get the opportunity:

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan. Did I mention plan? You’ll have to plan rehearsal schedules, though you dont need to stick to it, it is best to revise the schedule frequently to keep your cast/band updated depending how quickly/slowly you’re getting through the work.
  2. Come prepared. Sometimes there are unforseen circumstances and people are late or no longer can make rehearsal, always have a back up song or piece you can do or teach the harmonies behind their song (if the person missing is a lead).
  3. Know the show. The better you know the music yourself the better and easier you’ll find teaching it.
  4. Know your cast. If you know they are a chatty cast maybe do some focus games at the beginning of the rehearsal. If it is a rehearsal that seems to lack energy, do an energy arm up etc and get people interested!
  5. Be several steps ahead. This is down to that first step of planning, make sure you know what you are doing each rehearsal, know what people have and havent learnt annd make sure you know the music, the tempo and when the music splits into harmonies.
  6. Time management. If your cast are picking up something really quickly, polish it and move on so you can focus on harder sections. Like I said earlier most of us do a degree alongside our shows so knowing your deadlines for your degree and the show are majorly important so you dont forget anything!
  7. Confidence is key. Even if this means fake it until you make it! If you look like you dont know what you’re doing in the role of your production team, your cast may not have faith in you. You’re on the team for a reason, so be a little more confident.
  8. Get your band sorted early. If you have a voulenteer band, people are likely to drop out so best find them early and always have people on standby if possible!
  9. Stay Positive. It will be all worth it trust me, when you have an amazing show or concert and you see it all together for the first time, all that stress will be worth it.
  10. Have fun with it. Being a muscial director can take over your life a little so much sure you have fun with it, the process will be much better if you enjoy it yourself!

Hope these tips help, if you have any yourself please do let me know!

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