8: Finding the Right Conducting Teacher with Talia Ilan

Show Notes:

๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€?

A good teacher, especially when you are just starting out, will help you build a strong and solid foundation, provide you with useful tools and skills to continue improving yourself along the road, and even connect you with professional musicians which can broaden your knowledge of the industry and network.ย 


However, every teacher is different. They all have different personalities and strengths, and we are of course unique individuals. With this in mind, I am thrilled to welcome my guest today, Talian Ilan, as she shares with us her tips of finding the right conducting teacher for you.ย 


Talia Ilan is an Israeli conductor and a Radio Music Editor at the IPBC Classical Music Radio Station. She was named as one of the most inspiring of our generation in the State of Israel, and have guest conducted Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Macao Orchestra, the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra, the Janรกฤek Philharmonic, and the Moravian Philharmonic, to name a few.ย 

Links Mentioned in Today's Episode

Website: taliailan.com

Twitter, Facebook: #oneconductoraday


Instagram:ย @theconductorspodcastย /ย @tingchaowen

Website:ย www.chaowenting.com

Facebook:ย Chaowen Ting

Hi everyone, this is Chaowen recording in May 2023.

After finishing the first season of the Conductors podcast, I have decided to give this podcast project a dedicated website with more user-friendly functions. So now we have a brand new website called theconductorspodcast.com. And now we also have its own Instagram handle, it’s also the same, the Conductor’s podcast. So older show notes have been moved to the new site and I invite you to come check out all the resources and happy listening.

Talia 0:50
A good teacher should himself be a good conductor. Secondly, your teacher should have a method. When you’re a young conductor or not that experienced of a conductor, sometimes people don’t really realize your musicality from outside. Sometimes you look very technical, very dry. It doesn’t mean that you’re like this. It only means that you are still concentrating on your technique. I have to tell my students, it’s okay. This is the process. This is how it has to be. If you try to show off your musicality, then you’ll miss the point.

Chaowen: 1:28

Chaowen: 1:29
Hi there, welcome to The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting. This is a space created for conductors, conducting students, musicians, and non musicians who are curious and interested in learning more about the profession, craft, industry, and business. Shy away from the real talk? No way. Money, hardship, growth and the roller coaster of a conducting career are all topics we discuss here. Think of this as a one-stop shop for happy hour with supportive colleagues helping you to navigate both the messy and the magical seasons of this thing we call life. Now pull up a seat, make sure you’re cozy and get ready to be challenged and encouraged while you learn. This is The Conductor’s Podcast.

Chaowen: 2:20
[Episode begins]

Chaowen: 2:23
Hi there. Welcome to Episode No. 8 of The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host, Chaowen Ting, and I’m thrilled that you’re tuning in with me. As conductors, we study with many teachers, from school programs to masterclasses to workshops. We also learn from observing or playing under other conductors, especially if you are an ensemble musician yourself. However, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find the right teacher for you.

Chaowen: 2:55
A good teacher, especially when you’re just starting out, willl help you build a strong and solid foundation, provide you with useful tools and skills to continue improving yourself along the way, and even connect you with professional musicians, which can broaden your knowledge of the industry and network. However, every teacher is different. They all have different personalities and strengths, and we are of course unique individuals. One pedagogical method [that works] well [for] your friend doesn’t [necessarily] mean that you will benefit from it just as much. A teacher specializing in training students for competitions, for example, might not be the best fit for you when your urgent need is to develop tools to work with young musicians. A mentor with expertise in lesser known repertoire might not be as helpful if you still lack mastery of basic techniques.

Chaowen: 3:54
With this in mind, I’m thrilled to welcome my guest today, Talia Ilan, as she shares with us her tips [for] finding the right conducting teacher for you.

Chaowen: 4:05
Talia Ilan is an Israeli conductor and a Radio Music Editor at the IPBC Classical Music Radio Station. She was named as one of the most inspiring of our generation in the State of Israel, and has guest conducted Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Macao Orchestra, the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra, the Janรกฤek Philharmonic, and the Moravian Philharmonic, to name a few. Ilan currently serves as the Resident Conductor of the Reflex Ensemble of Contemporary Music and the conductor and co-founder of the Classical Women Orchestra. She is the former Music Director of the Israeli Stage Orchestra and the Campus Symphony Orchestra. With over 20 years of experience, she has taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, the Ono Academic College Music School, the Ma’ale Adumim Conservatory of Music, as well as summer music camps and private lessons. Ilan herself is a student of renowned pedagogue Professor Mendi Rodan from the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and has studied with conductors Daniel Barenboim and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Chaowen: 5:23
Welcome to the show, Talia. I’m so thrilled to welcome you to the show, and I can’t wait for you to share your story and experience with my audience.

Talia 5:32
Hi, Chaowen. It’s also a great pleasure for me to talk to you and to explore and to share my ideas and thoughts about the things that we’re going to talk about.

Chaowen: 5:44
I’m so excited. So before we get started, can you give everybody a brief intro? Just a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are now.

Talia 5:54
Sure. Okay, so my name is Talia Ilan. And I was born in Israel almost 50 years ago. And when I was a baby, my mother used to let me listen to classical music, not because she wanted me to be a musician; she herself was not. But just because she thought this is the most beautiful music that she liked to listen to. And therefore, all throughout my childhood, this is what I heard. And this is how I grew up. When I was about 10, I asked my parents if I can start studying piano, which is a rather late age. But, of course, they let me study piano. When I was 14, I attended a music high school. And there, I started studying the repertoire of the orchestral music profoundly. And then I realized that what I really like the most is orchestral music that I used to listen to since I was a baby, not necessarily the piano music. Not that I didn’t like the piano, of course, and I continued to play the piano. But what I really loved inside myself is the orchestral music. And then when I was 14, I decided I would become a conductor. I just forgot that I’m a woman, and it was almost impossible [for women to become conductors]. Also, of course, 36 years ago, there was no internet, no media, and for me, there were no female conductors. Of course, today when I research this subject, I know that there were female conductors from the beginning of the history of conducting. For example, if we consider Felix Mendelssohn as the first modern or podium conductor, his older sister Fanny Mendelssohn was herself a conductor of her own orchestra. So there were always female conductors. After my army service, when I wanted to attend a music academy, I realized that I’m going to start studying a profession that I have never seen any woman do before.

Chaowen: 7:20
This is really amazing that you did this at the age of 14, which is still quite young. Did you have experience playing in an orchestra? Or did anything happen that prompted you to make up your mind that you wanted to become a conductor?

Talia 8:45
I think I remember those moments in class when we listened together to an orchestral piece. The specific piece that made me decide I wanted to be a conductor was Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. I loved this piece so much. Yes, I know. It’s crazy. And I want to remind you again, I was 14. And on the same year, the Israel Philharmonic had in their programming this very piece–you know, it is not every year that it is in the season program. And I was so excited. So I bought a ticket. And then that time, they didn’t have this program like they have today that youngsters get free tickets or very reduced prices. No, I paid for a regular ticket, which was quite expensive, especially for me, but that doesn’t matter. I went in, I enjoyed it so much. The next day, I came again. And I was kind of short. Even though I was 14 then, I wasn’t that tall. And I went to the cashier and this woman, I still remember her face. She said, Hey, little girl, what would you like to buy? And I said, I want to buy a ticket for the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. She said, you have to buy a ticket? You’re so small. I will give you a free ticket. And she really gave me a free ticket even though they didn’t have this understanding, you know. I still remember I was so excited and I went the second time. Later when I was 16, my clarinet teacher’s wife arranged [to give] me access to the rehearsals. So for almost 10 years, I was able to attend tens or hundreds of rehearsals of different guest conductors. And this is how I really studied conducting. Yes, this is how I really studied. I really think I know many conducting students because I myself have been teaching conducting for 22 years, and my husband is also a conductor and a conducting teacher. Unfortunately, conducting students really don’t appreciate this opportunity of learning from other conductors. They don’t attend rehearsals. And how do I know? The whole 10 years that I attended so many rehearsals, I was the only one there–in Israel, and also in London and San Francisco, and in Miami. And I wondered, how come all the conducting students don’t use this opportunity to see how other conductors–doesn’t matter good or bad–[how] they make the process of preparing a concert through rehearsals, and how the orchestra relates to what they do and how they do it. What are the good things in their method? And what are the bad things that we can learn from others? All those things are so important for us to learn more repertoire. I mean, it’s better to hear the right sound, the real sound, the natural sound, and not from necessarily the radio or the media. Also, when you go to rehearsals, you can hear sections, not all the time the tutti. Only in rehearsals can you listen to the separated sections when the conductor is asking them to work on specific places. Only in rehearsals, you can really see how the concertmaster talks with the conductor and other violinists [about] how to take this bow up or down or up up down. All those things happen only in rehearsals. And only there you can really see how it is in real life. So it I think it gives [you] a lot of confidence if you really do that. So maybe I did it too much. More than 10 years I kept at it. And actually, even the players of the Israel Philharmonic used to mock me, they said, What is so interesting in our job, you’re just watching what we are doing in our job. But I think I really learned a lot from it.

Chaowen: 13:13
Definitely, I felt that a lot of the young people, when they first think about conducting as an option, they get really focused on the part of waving your arms in front of the ensemble, and giving commands or doing rehearsals while we forget that a lot of the work is actually done in rehearsal. And only by going to rehearsals or actually playing in an ensemble do you learn the process from inside out. But coming back to the part of you going to observe rehearsals, which I think is a great opportunity. A lot of people might think, okay, how do I get to rehearsals? Do I need to have special connections? Do I just contact the orchestra managers and what are the steps or the process of getting into the hall?

Talia 14:02
Okay, so in my case, the Israel Philharmonic, so it was the wife of my clarinet teacher, which reminds me: I didn’t tell you about part of my early stages. After I attended this high school and I realized when I was 14 that I would want to be a conductor, then I decided that I will teach myself first. And I decided, I have to play an orchestral instrument. So I chose the clarinet.

Talia 14:35
Somehow, in my class was the clarinetist, John come. I don’t know if you know her, but she’s an international clarinet player, and she gave me the inspiration that this is the instrument I should play. And after a year of studying–of course, it was much faster than starting from scratch because I was already a pianist–then I joined an amateur orchestra. So I [had] already entered this world of orchestra. So the wife of my teacher, she worked in the Israel Philharmonic and I asked her if she could arrange it and then this is what she did. Of course, she had to have permission from Zubin Mehta, who told her yes, you can enter but only from the row number 12 onwards. Okay, no problem. From 3000 empty seats, I could choose almost all of them. And of course, I saw all the great conductors since the 80s actually. So this is about how I did it and later when I had a mentor who was the music director of the London Symphony in San Francisco. So I just asked him for permission, and he arranged it. So there was no problem. But for other students who are asking this, so first of all, this is just a technical thing. Of course, I would like to help and give suggestions. But I want to say, if you want to become a conductor, this is really [a small barrier]. This is not the thing that has to prevent you from trying to do this. So yes, find a player, get friendly with some of the players and try to find out or call the office or do something, do something. I mean, I don’t say that every time you will get the access. But if you’re a conducting student and a musician, there is no reason for an orchestra not to allow you to enter rehearsals. I do understand that sometimes they don’t want to, if there is a specific rehearsal that they say is confidential for their own reasons. But the majority of the rehearsals should be open for students. I think [that] it [should] be a demand from the school that the students will enter rehearsals of symphonic orchestras. I think it has to be part of the program.

Chaowen: 16:23
Absolutely. We conductors really need to be brave, as very often we need to be creating things for ourselves. So it’s better to start practicing asking [for] things for yourself early on in your training and career. Nowadays, in the Internet era, the worst that can happen is someone not returning your email. There is no harm in sending out a cold email introducing yourself and expressing your desire to learn. Even if they just glanced at your email without replying to it, they might have remembered your name and noted that this person is a proactive conductor or conducting student. So I really want to encourage everyone to just have courage for, you know, 30 seconds, and reach out to people. There might be surprises there. One thing that I really want to hear from you, because you’ve been teaching conducting for over two decades now: what did you find that will help conducting students the most?

Talia 17:31
So I really think that for conducting students, first of all, they have to check about themselves, what is the reason they really want to become conductors? I know it will not really change the reality, because I’m sure you also know and we see in reality that some of the conductors will say, okay, they’re there just because they want to be famous and they want to be seen, not for the real reason of making good music and having the joy of exploring music and exploring how to transform what you feel to the orchestra and backwards and all those things and to make a performance amazing for for the sake of the composer and for the sake of the piece, but for the wrong reasons. So it’s better to ask ourselves, what is the real reason? If we really feel that this is our mission, our life mission, because I really feel that this is very important. If we want to start a career, and we want to study, and it’s six years at least of studying, with first degree and second degree…it will be a waste of time, if we don’t do it for the right reason.

Talia 18:58
And second, we have to really put a lot of effort in it and a lot of knowledge. It’s not enough to just want to be a conductor, we have to have a lot of prior knowledge before we even attend the music school [or] the music academy, we have to play the piano at least [on a basic level], and it’s better to have another orchestral instrument and to have the experience in sitting inside an orchestra and to know how it is to to get instructions from a conductor and what it is like to hear the music from the place where you see it and to play together and what the player inside the orchestra needs from the conductor. So later when you are the conductor, you know what the players really need from you and what is not necessary and what to give and what is even making damage. So all those things are things that I think we need to know prior to when we go to school. When we go to school, we already have all this knowledge, information, and experience. This is what I believe. Of course, we never stop learning. All the time, I keep learning new pieces, of course now, mainly the new source of music from female composers that I’m really addicted to. So at no point can we say, Okay, now we know everything. No, on the contrary, the more we know, the more we want to explore more and more and more, and we feel that our life will not be long enough for all of this. And another thing, which I think is very important is to look for the right teacher. It’s not guaranteed at all. And somehow, I think I was very, very lucky that (I think) the best teacher in the world in my time was the teacher in Israel in the Jerusalem Academy. Professor Mendi Rodan was my teacher. And how I know he was the best teacher is because first of all, our class was international. People came from all over the world, including Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. And of course, there were some Israelis there, but really, people understood that he is the best teacher. I also know from another perspective, it was not enough for me to study only in my academy, but I also went around the world to have master classes because in our academy, unfortunately, they didn’t let us conduct the orchestra–not rehearsals, nothing. Even though they promised they would, but they didn’t. So once in a year, I picked up one of the masterclasses, especially in Europe and the United States, back then it used to be the American Symphony Orchestra League, today it’s the League of American Orchestras. And in those master classes, of course, I met many, many conductors who were teaching. And of course, I learned a lot from them. But still, I felt that the best teacher is still the one back home, my teacher. So I think finding the right teacher is something very important. But sometimes I know that the conducting students, they don’t really care so much about the level of the teacher, but the name of the school. And many times the big name schools, they might have a big name conducting teacher, but not necessarily a good conducting teacher. And it’s very rare, unfortunately, to find a good conducting teacher. You see the result many times, conducting teachers give you the feeling that they are gods and know everything. But in the end, they don’t teach you the right technique. Sometimes they themselves don’t have [the] technique. And they think that if they tell you ‘here forte, here piano’ and what tempo you have to take, this is something that you can learn by yourself. So it’s really important not to waste four years on someone who is telling you something that you can learn by yourself. This is not the reason why you go to this school, because if you’re majoring in conducting, you better have a real good teacher. And if you don’t find a good teacher, at least, find a place where you are sure and you know from past students that you will get the chance to conduct an orchestra on a regular basis. Even once in in a month, it’s much better than, for example, in my school, we could conduct maximum twice in the whole four years. So in the whole degree program, I only got to conduct an orchestra in my school twice. So this is a very, very bad situation. I know today things are changing also in Israel, and in other places, because schools want to attract students, so maybe they give more opportunities, but don’t take it for granted. You have to check to make sure this is what you get. This is very important. Also, don’t put all the eggs in one basket, always go to study here and there, also in masterclasses; go to rehearsals, and if you find a conductor that you really feel that you can learn from him, even if he’s not a teacher, you can make him be your mentor, maybe. Maybe not, but you have to try. And once you found someone that you really like is conducting you can learn only even from watching him rehearsing. This is something I learned a lot from myself.

Chaowen: 25:04
So just to summarize the tips for conducting students: first and foremost, you really need to know why you want to be a conductor, and to really broaden your knowledge, because it’s a lot going on, other than just gestures and techniques. You need to have understanding of the instruments, of the music, of music history and theory, to say the least, and nunderstand how to interact with players, sometimes even with admin. So how can you create a better working environment for everybody, in a sense? And never stop learning. Look for the right teacher, and attend masterclasses or rehearsals whenever you can. And you also emphasized that you want to make sure that you have a chance to conduct a real ensemble, no matter if you’re in orchestra or in choir or band conducting, you want to find chances to work with live musicians instead of just learning it with your teacher or with a piano.

Chaowen: 26:12
So I think we all know finding the right teacher is so critical, especially when you’re at the foundational stage, like kind of when you’ve just started getting your feet wet. So teachers have different styles and personalities. What will YOU look for in a good teacher, like someone who teaches both knowledge and techniques? Or some other things? When someone [has] just started, if they are contacting teachers, what kind of things would you advise them to be cautious about?

Talia 26:48
Okay, so from my experience, I feel that a good teacher should be himself a good conductor, first of all, because for example, my teacher not only was the best conducting teacher in his time, and unfortunately, he passed away 10 years ago. But he was also a great, great conductor, unfortunately, not that famous, maybe internationally, although he did conduct all over the world. And he was the resident conductor of the Israel Philharmonic. And he was the music director in Belgium. And he also was teaching in the United States, I don’t remember in which academy, but I think in two of them, he was a guest teacher for several years. But really, from when I was his student, those five years, I attended all his rehearsals, and all his concerts in Israel. And from this, I learned a lot. And I was his admirer also. So it was very important for me to get inspired from his own conducting. So of course, I learned even more than my own classes. This is what I felt, that without really watching his conducting, both in rehearsals and in concert, I wouldn’t learn as much in my private lessons with him, if I didn’t know how he was himself conducting. So I think the first thing is to see that your teacher is himself a conductor that you would like to learn from, and you would like to become like him. Of course not like him, in the sense of imitation–exactly the opposite. I’m against imitation. Also, as a teacher, I always tell my students, don’t imitate me, please don’t. Everybody has to have his own natural style and way of showing his gestures and everything, but in the sense of learning the attitude and also technique. So, for me, my teacher was a model as a conductor and as a teacher. This is very important, first of all.

Talia 29:22
Second is that your teacher should have a method. It’s not enough to be a great conductor. Not all the great conductors can be great teachers. Sometimes they know how to do it themselves, but they don’t know how to teach. And this is so important because technique needs to have a method. When I teach first year students, the main thing I teach them is technique, because without that technique, there’s no way they can improve later. And if they do it later, it’s sometimes too late, it’s very difficult to change that technique when you’re already experienced. So the first steps, I really demand that they will work a lot on their basic technique. I built a up a method for this, and the method really works quite well. And sometimes my first year students have better technique than some students from other years more advanced, if they didn’t really learn it the right way from the beginning.

Talia 30:37
And of course, the other things well about musicality, I still doubt if it’s something that we can learn. I think that in the stage of our life, when we choose to become conductors, if we’re not musical already, there is no point in becoming conductors. This is what I feel. I feel that this is something that has to come from childhood. I don’t say there is no way to learn how to express yourself according to your musicality, but you cannot build up your musicality in this stage already. This is what I believe. And you can only dig in and explore yourself. And what else I found out is that when you’re a young conductor or not that experienced [of a] conductor, sometimes from outside, people don’t really realize your musicality. Sometimes, you look very technical, very dry–it doesn’t mean that you’re like this; it only means that you’re still concentrating on your technique. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t know what you hear; it doesn’t mean that you don’t know what you want to hear and what you want to achieve. It just means that it doesn’t come out. It’s not visual yet. And actually, it’s not that important. I know some people think that only if you show your expressions [then you’re not that good]. Also, as a pianist, if you don’t show your expressions, [it’s] as if you’re not musical. But close your eyes and listen to the music. This is what says if your musical are not, not how you look or how you really perform. And it’s very important to point this out, because many young conductors can get this feedback and feel that maybe the problem is with them. And no, I have to tell my students, it’s okay. This is the process, this is how it has to be. It cannot be otherwise. On the contrary, if you try to show off your musicality, then you’ll miss the point.

Chaowen: 32:47
So you’re advocating a step by step method of learning conducting from the very beginning. At first you acquire good conducting techniques. And then you connect your musicality and your musical expressions with the techniques and have the techniques help you express your musical intentions. And I absolutely would agree with you on the comment on young conductors, because a lot of times, including myself, when I was starting, I was so focused on being right and good. And I couldn’t really express myself. But it didn’t mean that I didn’t hear or I didn’t feel the music. I just didn’t have the right tools yet to help me express what I was feeling. But I think a good teacher would really see beyond this and acknowledge and help you continue building your musicality and musicianship. So like the things that you mentioned: a good teacher won’t ask you to just imitate their gestures; they would have a good method of teaching techniques and also can help you continue growing and combining those skills together. I think those are really wonderful [pieces of] advice. So before we wrap up, I wanted to circle back to the topic about women in this profession. Because from the beginning of our conversation, we talked about how visibility is so important for women in this field. Do you have something that you want to share with the young conductors out there?

Talia 34:35
It’s a difficult topic, because each woman is individual and each surrounding is different. Israel is different than the United States. But also, San Francisco is different than New York, which is different than Chicago. And you have to be lucky to have the right people around you. Sometimes you have the wrong people around you. Sometimes you have the wrong people in your life around you, like in my case, but it’s difficult, of course. As long as we when we see that, in reality, women are still a very small percentage on the podium, it means that we are being there is a bias–we cannot say differently. There is a bias, because even in the new generation where you could see almost 50% of students who are women, how come in the end, you don’t see them an equal amount of them on the podium as men? So it means that orchestras prefer to take a mediocre male conductor than a better woman conductor, there is no other way to see it. This is actually the fact. And of course, it’s changing, and the more brave orchestras will choose to have more and more female conductors, then it will be more regular. But we don’t have the time to give those orchestras to do this process, because it’s on our account. One this time, when they are trying inviting female conductors and to be brave to do this step, some conductors are staying at home and not doing anything, even though they’re more talented and they can give much more to the orchestras. And instead of them, they take male conductors who are less than them. So I don’t really know what to say today.

Talia 36:46
What I know is that we have to believe in ourselves and to try to find good mentors. Good mentors means that we have to find those experienced and older conductors who can help us. Not good mentors is not only good conductors, it’s more people who can help us and not help us just to say, Oh, you’re a good conductor, bye. No, they have to help us find jobs, they have to help us find opportunities, they have to tell us, I’m sorry, I’m not available for you, go find another mentor. And this is important: not to stay in a place where you’re not wanted or you are not getting help; you will waste your time. So it’s important to find the right mentor for the right time, and then to find another one until you’re already inside the profession and you don’t need it anymore.

Chaowen: 37:47
That’s kind of a really heavy subject to talk about. I was just talking to another friend the other day, [about how] even though a lot more women are seen on the podium, very often, they are in a supporting role. So they’re the assistant conductor, they are the apprentice conductor–they are not someone who is in charge and it somehow feels like [they’re saying], Okay, if women are supporting and are in a secondary role, we are okay if you conduct.

Talia 38:16
That’s right, exactly. We have to make it happen, even though it’s the way the blame is on the patriarchal society and mainly on men. But they will not help us, because they want to preserve this privilege, a way of living [where] they can get whatever they want, even if they’re not the best ones, just because they are men. And of course when I say it, and men will listen to it, he will say, Who do you think you are, of course, I’m that talented, and that’s why I got my job. Well, but you have to know that if no woman got this job at all, this means you only had to fight against other men, only half of the society. But if it was open to the 100%, who knows if you would get this job. And this is what those men have to understand: that they are privileged, and it’s not [just] their talent. It’s only because they they shut the doors to half of the society who is at least equally talented like them, or even more, according to what I feel, especially in the conducting field. So and of course, we have to do things because it’s for us–for our sake, for our daughters’ sake. I want my daughters to be conductors too. And of course they’re small, but they [have] already started taking some lessons from me.

Chaowen: 39:49
You have two daughters?

Talia 39:50

Chaowen: 39:51
I have two daughters too, but they are not into music. My older one wants to be a ballerina. And my second one just wants to annoy her big sister. That’s her life mission now, just to annoy the sibling. Yeah, but I really want my daughters to grow up into a society where they will feel supported, and secure. No matter what they choose to become, that they will be seen for their values, [that] they will be judged, not by their gender or appearance, but by their contribution and their potential. Yeah, so I just want to put it out there. If you’re listening, no matter if you’re a man, women, non binary, anything in between or beyond, I think it’s really important that we really form a community, that we help each other out. Thank you so much for all that you’ve shared. And I felt we need probably five more episodes of the podcast to finish all the topics that we want to explore. I’ll put everything in the show notes, but I wanted everybody to hear it from you. So could you tell my listeners where they can find more about you, like your website or social media handles?

Talia 41:12
Okay, so thank you, Chaowen Well, my website, I didn’t take care of it for the last two years…but in general, I mean, you can still watch my recent videos, and the biography hasn’t changed that much. So it’s okay. And the name of my website is my name, taliailan.com. And also in Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter. I’m very much active in Twitter. And my hashtag, #oneconductoraday, is on both Facebook and Twitter. And I have some followers who are supporting me in both medias, and it’s very nice. And the more support this hashtag has, the more visibility we will have as female conductors on the podium. And I have some followers who are very important: journalists in United States and in Europe, and they also support this. And I was already invited to talk in the news on television, and I had one article about it in Israel. And it’s going to get bigger and bigger. I didn’t even expect this to happen. But I’m very happy for this, because this is the aim: that as many people as possible will see that we are here we exist. It cannot be used as an excuse that, Oh, there are not enough women conductors. That’s why you don’t see [them] and we cannot invite [them]. No, it’s not an excuse, because there are hundreds of us. And a big percentage of us are very professional in the highest level. So there is no excuse to say there are no female conductors; there are and there will always be [female] conductors.

Chaowen: 43:16
And I just wanted to tell all of my male colleagues: you should be confident even if you’re competing with the entire society. If you’re good, you’re still going to stand out. The more talented and strong professional conductors in the profession, the better this profession will become.

Talia 43:34

Chaowen: 43:35
I just wanted to thank you so much.

Talia 43:37
Oh, I would like to thank you. Thank you, Chaowen, for hosting me. It was a great pleasure for me to talk to you and to see you, and I’m sure we will keep in touch.

Chaowen: 43:48
So here you have it. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did. What is your biggest takeaway from this episode? My biggest personal takeaway from this chat was that you really need to find a teacher that can help you become a better you, instead of turning you into a mini him or her. Look for someone that has a balanced view on building both your basic techniques and musicality, especially when you are just starting out.

Chaowen: 44:17
I would emphasize that the end goal of any conducting should be to serve the music, but without good basic techniques, you will waste so much valuable time of your musicians in rehearsal when you can just show what you want with your conducting instead of telling them what to do. I also strongly recommend learning baton techniques as early as possible, and really find a good teacher with a good pedagogical method. As Talia said, not all great conductors are great teachers. I started as a choral conductor in high school and built my entire foundation with just my hands, with no baton. Later, when I came to the U.S. to formally study conducting, my first teacher believed that I should conduct solidly with my hands first before using a baton, so I was forbidden to use a baton for two yearsโ€”which didnโ€™t work out well at all.

Chaowen: 45:18
Everyone is more natural with their hands, and what you can do with bare hands and fingers doesnโ€™t translate directly into the baton. Learning to use the baton effectively is like learning bow discipline for string players. It takes good teaching, good understanding, and a lot of practice to master the skills. I ended up spending so many years later just to find the right baton grip for myself, not to mention my struggles with some basic baton techniques. So, I believe a beginning teacher with a balanced pedagogue of both the techniques and the understanding of the score is really important and would benefit you a lot. When you are a bit more experienced or advanced, depending on your weaknesses, you might want to work with someone who has a strong specialty, like deep knowledge in a certain repertoire such as opera, or conductors known for teaching and working with young adults if thatโ€™s your primary focus, or even someone with strong professional connections.

Chaowen: 46:25
How was your experience working with different conducting teachers? Iโ€™d love to hear your story with various types of mentors, or what you have been struggling the most with your current conducting study. You can tag me on social mediaโ€”I am @tingchaowen on Instagram and @chaowentingconductor on Facebook. If you post anything, donโ€™t forget to use the hashtag #theconductorspodcast. You can also email me at theconductorspodcast@gmail.com. More importantly, I will be hosting a monthly giveaway of an hour of free consultation with me, starting in December. All you have to do is to leave a review of the podcast and share why you love the show. Just share the screenshot of the review and tag me on social media, and you will be entered into the monthly giveaway for a free hour consultation. During that time with me, you will have a chance to ask any questions you might have about conducting or the business. You can also get an extra entry every month as long as you share the podcast post and tag any friend. So go ahead and subscribe and leave a review if you have been enjoying listening.

Chaowen: 47:50
Next week I will be sharing something that is very close to my heart with all of you–tips to get unstuck, especially when you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Okay, I will see you next week at the same time, same place. Bye for now!