I recently sat down for an episode of a great new podcast called Rite of String, hosted by strings music educators and two of my favorite musicians, Kevin Sluder and Matthew Moreno. It’s a terrific podcast and I highly recommend it to musicians and music educators (and especially college students studying to enter the field) interested in unpacking the strings section and understanding the orchestra classroom.


The episode was titled “Conducting Professionally.” From the Rite of String show notes:

While a majority of us do our teaching in the classroom setting, there are also many educators who have utilized their skill set on a different path leading groups around the community.

In this episode, Jordan Randall Smith, a conductor in the Baltimore area, talks about working with church groups, non-major college orchestras, and developing special projects that foster new compositions.

During the episode, we discussed topics such as the strings music education landscape, the music of Florence Price, advice for using music education experience to pursue a conducting career, and keeping track of what is inspiring in music as we teach our students.


In the sample below, Kevin Sluder and I talk about the difference between being honest and self-critical in rehearsal and practice, and forgiving ourselves and enjoying the moment when we “go into battle” to give a performance with an open heart. It is critical that we take care of ourselves and allow ourselves to be pleased with imperfect performances; after all, there is no such thing as a perfect performance! The goal is to strive for perfection, to get as close as we can, and then share the perfectly imperfect result with our fellow-travelers. In so doing, we learn a valuable lesson in self-forgiveness and self-care which is crucial to longevity in the music career.

Full Episode

To listen to the complete episode, click the button below, use the embedded player, or search for “Rite of String” wherever you get your podcasts. And, make sure to follow Rite of String on Facebook and Twitter.

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.