S1E6: Discernment: How to Pick Quality Music

What does artistic excellence look and sound like?

  • Expectations
  • Form, shape & design
  • Orchestration & density
  • Style
  • Development
  • Idiom
  • Musical validity
  • Appeal & interest to players, audience and us
  • Being the adult in the room - training musical palates rather than pandering

Download the Determining Excellence Checklist PDF

Blog post: Why can't the kids pick their own music?

Stephen Budiansky's Washington Post article: The kids play great, but that music...

How to develop your own discernment and taste

  • Getting out of the rehearsal room
  • Listening beyond your ensemble/genre
  • Listening to great (and bad!) performances
  • Listen outside classical music

Musical Inspiration for Conductors (Youtube playlist)


  • How to listen
  • Where to listen

How to select music that is appropriate for your:

  • Ensemble
  • Occasion
  • Audience

Download the Determining Appropriateness Checklist PDF

Action Steps

  1. Select a work that is new to you and assess its artistic excellence using the checklist.
  2. Select an upcoming performance in your calendar. Assess the work from Step 1 for its appropriateness to that event using the checklist.

Share your action steps with us on Instagram!

Take a photo or screen shot, tag us @conductingartistry and use hashtag #conductingartistryinaction

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Check out our videos YouTube

S1E7: Engaging Players and Audiences with Thematic Programming

The how and why of thematic programming to engage your players and (new) audiences.


S1E6: Discernment: How to Pick Quality Music

How do we determine artistic excellence? How do we select music that is appropriate for our ensembles, audiences and performances?


S1E5: Finding New Music: Being A Repertoire Detective

Where and how to look for new repertoire.


S1E4: The Concert: Creating An Emotional Journey

Curating transformative experiences for performers and audiences.


S1E3: Creating Balanced, Contrasting Programs

Make your audience and players hungry for more with programs that are varied and balanced.


S1E2: Make Real Music Faster with Appropriate Repertoire

Get to real music making faster by selecting appropriate music. 8 Common ensemble problems caused by repertoire choice and how to avoid them. The 80/20 rule for selecting music that is the right level for your ensemble.


S1E1: Setting Goals for Guaranteed Growth and Learning

The building blocks of repertoire selection: where do you want to go, and how long have you got to get there? Tools and strategies to feel ready and prepared for every performance. Set goals that ensure your ensemble members progress holistically throughout the year, both as musicians and as people.