The Saito conducting
method was developed by Hideo
Saito after he analysed the gestures of outstanding
conductors in Europe and Japan in the 1920s and 30s.
was a cellist who studied in Germany where he observed the outstanding
conductors of that time. He became principal cellist of the new NHK
orchestra under founding conductor Joseph Rosenstock. The new
orchestra was conducted by famous guest conductors from all over the
world. Saito was left wondering why it was easier to follow and make
music with some of the conductors and more difficult with others.
had admirable technique, became Saito's conducting teacher. Saito
came to understand the ways by which gestures elicit and shape music.
Saito was one of the founders of the Toho Gakuen
School of Music where he taught the method. Morihiro
Okabe, who was in the first conducting class,
became Saito's teaching assistant and helped to create
a textbook from Saito's teaching notes. Seiji Ozawa and Kazuyoshi Akiyama were early graduates
of the conducting program. The method has been refined
by Messrs. Okabe and Akiyama. The original text was translated into English by Fumihiko Torigai and
edited to include Okabe's revisions by Wayne Toews. It was published in Tokyo in 1988.
After first studying the method in 1974 in Courtenay,
B.C. Wayne Toews traveled to Tokyo in 1983
to study with Morihiro Okabe. Toews used Saito's method
in his daily work for more than 40 years and taught
it at national and international conventions, in university
classes and to private students. He enjoys the reputation
as a first rate musician and teacher. He has broad
experience with orchestras, choirs, wind ensembles
and jazz groups.
The animation below demonstrates a fundamental gesture
in the Saito method called Shakui (Shah-kwee).
Notice how this swinging motion shows a precise beat
point making each beat clear and allowing each to
be anticipated with ease. It is an example of an into-point
motion. It is made by controlling the acceleration
and deceleration of the arm. This gesture can be varied
to show different articulations, timbres, subdivisions,
and dynamics. In combination with from-point motions
it provides conductors with the means to shape musical
The gesture is predictable, clear and precise at the various tempi.
Try it by clicking on the words slow, medium or fast under the diagram.
You can explore other animated gestures by clicking
the Resources button in the menu above.
Click here to
get the details about the workshops for orchestral, choral and band conductors. The annual workshops that began in 2006 have been outstanding
successes. Read HERE. Join others who want to communicate clearly
Empower your gestures with clarity and artistry.