Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit





Unit rationale, description and aim

Musicians working as performers, teachers and music directors need to be able to facilitate and lead music performance. The unit content develops conducting techniques, aural skills, score reading and preparation, rehearsal planning, and leadership skills in the context of ensemble direction for school, church, community, and professional ensembles. The unit includes a consideration of the criteria for selecting appropriate repertoire for ensembles based on the age, experience, and skill-level of the musicians. Practical learning activities are central in the design of the unit and experience is gained through participation in performance activities as both director and participant performer. The unit also facilitates students to continue their development as performers outside of formal educational settings.

The aim of the unit is to develop the skills that underpin choral and instrumental conducting and performance.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - apply musical knowledge and skills to the direction of a selected ensemble (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA10)

LO2 - understand the inter-relationships that exist between theory and practice in music performance (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA10)

LO3 - demonstrate ensemble conducting techniques including beat patterns and simple interpretive gestures (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - develop approaches to the selection, preparation and execution of appropriate ensemble and performance repertoire (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10)

LO5 - apply positive music leadership and communication skills through effective rehearsal procedures and techniques (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • An introduction to basic conducting techniques: duple, triple and quadruple beat patterns; indications to begin and end; entries and cut-offs; simple interpretive gestures
  • Approaches to the selection, preparation and execution of appropriate ensemble and performance repertoire
  • A study of a variety of approaches to sight-singing, sight reading, aural perception and accompaniment
  • The development of choral and instrumental ensemble techniques applied to selected repertoire
  • Research into ensemble formation and development and selection of suitable repertoire
  • Considerations of performance practice tied to diverse music styles
  • Strategies to practise and rehearse music and musicians
  • Strategies to develop as a musician outside of a studio-based learning model (lifelong learning)
  • Practical application of musical knowledge and skills

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is designed to develop skills and knowledge related to music performance and the direction of music ensembles. As a 200-level unit, it presumes prior knowledge of music language and of aural perception, and the ability to apply research findings. The unit has a practical bias as it is important that students have the opportunity to practice and demonstrate conducting techniques, sight singing and sight reading, and aspects of selected repertoire. Students employ the skills tied to their musical interests which may include instrumental or vocal performance outcomes. Students are exposed to key knowledge and skills related to music notation and aural acuity to effect music performance and music leadership roles. Students then apply these skills and knowledge first in the context of performance preparation and then in authentic outcomes-based settings.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements, and therefore the assessment tasks are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

Assessments one and three are applied, practical tasks and are designed to allow students to learn, practise and develop specific skills related to directing an ensemble. Both tasks require students to be involved in group activities as both a musical performer and director. Assessment two requires students to research, select and prepare ensemble and/or solo repertoire within varied contexts. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Formative Tests of Music Knowledge and Skills

Requires students to demonstrate task-specific aural and written music knowledge and skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA10

Research: Folio of selected music works with analysis

Requires students to select, research, analyse, and prepare contrasting works for performance.


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA10

Practical Presentation

Requires students to successfully demonstrate skills related to ensemble direction and/or performance. An authentic mode of assessment is employed to translate performance activities to real-world settings. This includes music for community, art and educational contexts.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Bailey, Wayne, and Brandt Payne. Conducting: The Art of Communication. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Bartle, Jean. Sound Advice: Becoming a Better Children's Choir Conductor. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Colson, John F. Conducting and Rehearsing the Instrumental Music Ensemble Scenarios, Priorities, Strategies, Essentials, and Repertoire. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2012.

Garnett, Liz. Choral Conducting and the Construction of Meaning: Gesture, Voice, Identity. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2016.

Gibson, Mark. The Beat Stops Here: Lessons on and off the Podium for Today's Conductor. London, UK: Oxford University Press. 2017.

McPherson, Gary and Graham Welch. Vocal, Instrumental, and Ensemble Learning and Teaching: An Oxford Handbook of Music Education. Vol 3. Global OUP, 2018.

Rogers, Nancy and Robert Ottman. Music for Sight Singing. 10th ed. Brisbane, AU: Pearson, 2018.

Shaw, Brian P. Music Assessment for Better Ensembles. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2019.

Ward-Steinman, Patrice Madura. Becoming a Choral Music Teacher: A Field Experience Workbook. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2017.

Wigglesworth, Mark. The Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters. London, UK: Faber and Faber, 2019.

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