Marin Alsop’s Classic FM Conducting Masterclass: Beating time

This week Marin tackles one of the most fundamental skills for a conductor – beating time, from the fairly common 4/4 time to music with 5 beats in every bar (we're looking at you, Bernstein) or even just 1. Grab your baton and get ready to beat along…

Marin Alsop conducting masterclass

Watch the other instalments of Marin's masterclass here >

Beating 4/4

First up, 4/4 – also known as common time because it's so, well, common.

Play

Marin Alsop's conducting masterclass: beating 4/4

The brilliant conductor talks us through how to beat in four

06:37

Here's the beat pattern Marin demonstrates:

Marin Alsop conducting beat pattern in 4


Did you miss the first instalment of Marin's masterclass? Watch it here

Beating 3/4

Ah waltz time. But how do you tackle it as a conductor?

Play

Marin Alsop's conducting masterclass: conducting in 3/4 time

How do you beat time for a waltz?

03:48

Here's the beat pattern Marin, Jonah and Mike use in the video:

Marin Alsop conducting beat pattern in 3

 

Beating 2/2

Play

Marin Alsop's conducting masterclass: beating in 2

Marin talks us through the challenge of beating two in a bar

03:45

 

And here's that all-important beat pattern to help you follow along:

Marin Alsop conducting beat pattern in 2

And finally: 1 beat per bar and how to conduct Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

Beating 1 per bar doesn't necessarily mean there's only one beat per bar – it could mean that the music is in three or four, but it's too fast for the conductor to show all those beats.

In this clip, Marin shows you how to conduct the famous On the beautiful Blue Danube and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Play

Marin Alsop's conducting masterclass: beating in 1

How do you beat if you only have time to fit in one beat per bar?

05:18

 

This one at least *looks* straight-forward on the page:

Marin Alsop conducting beat pattern in 1

5 beats per bar

Ok, this is tricky, let's make no bones about that. But Marin's going to talk us through it – with the help of some gorgeous Tchaikovsky, whose Second Symphony uses five in a bar.

Play

Marin Alsop's conducting masterclass: beating in 5

Marin talks us through this tricky beat pattern

05:49


And here's the beat pattern to help you beat along:

Marin Alsop conducting beat pattern in 5

Next week: Marin tackles more complex conducting gestures including the upbeat and the big finish

 

Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop Conductor and Violinist Marin Alsop

Discover Marin Alsop: full biography, news, features and music to play and download.