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  • Writer's picturePatrick Norris


Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Emotions are fascinating. Many people only experience them reactively. Some feel them deeply. Some repress them. Some protest various emotional experiences. What about you? How do you experience emotions?

What would happen if you became highly attuned to emotions? What if you learned to more fully understand them? What if you were to conduct them, like the conductor of a symphony? What if you learned how you could activate, release, and increase or reduce various emotional experiences?

In previous chapters in this series on emotions we have learned that emotions are spiritual. God is an emotional being. God’s emotions are holy, unique, and in a category separate from human emotions, due to the corruption of sin into our emotional processes.

We have learned that emotions can be studied. Emotions are what our “experiences” are made up of. “Emotionalism” is to be understood as separate from that which is “emotional”. While all emotional processing is technically a positive gift from God, many people use the categories of “positive” emotions in contrast to “negative” emotions, as a form of easy communication.

We learned that both of these categories of “positive” and “negative” emotions are God’s necessary gifts to us. And we have learned that the devil’s primary strategy is to leverage, exploit, and gain access into our emotional processes.

Today, in this chapter, I want to help you consider that you are not a victim to your emotions, but you are the “conductor” of your emotional experiences. You can be a manager that activates, releases, increases, and reduces various emotional experiences.

Do you want to feel more love, empathy, and compassion? Do you want anxiety, panic, and fearful imaginations to lose their power over you? Maybe you want more experiences of joy, laughter, and fun. Or maybe you want to not be the victim of depression, sadness, and hopelessness. Let’s frame our emotional management, responsibility, and possibilities in a different way.

Think of the experience of a “conductor” on a symphony stage. One of the most famous is Gustav Mahler. He was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer and a leading conductor of his generation. Google him and you will see caricatures of him with extreme gestures, arms waving, jumping in the air – all to master a symphony of amazing music.

Another historical conductor is Richard Strauss, a German composer in the Romantic era. Richard conducted music in a very subdued projection, with bare movements. Though these two symphonic giants are on the opposite ends of expression, they are equally powerful in the results.

The role of a conductor is to organize the music, prepare the orchestra, guide the symphony choir, direct the soloists, and lead the individual musicians to embody the conductor’s interpretation of the music. The conductor has an end in mind and moves the symphony forward in an orderly manner.

The conductor chooses the complex musical works to be performed and studies their scores. They can then make desired adjustments to the tempo, articulation, phrasing, repetitions of sections, and so on. They capture and relay the vision to all the performers. Then, the end an extraordinary, moving, musical experience.

A role of a conductor is an art form. It is an anticipatory art. What they do takes place before the music happens. The hand gestures and baton movements right and left are in advance of what is desired for that sound.

The baton is simply an extension of the full arm and wrist. Small movements in the wrist area can make expressive movements, the baton being an extension of the wrist. The conductor’s right hand is mainly for managing the rhythm and beat patterns. The left hand has a much more complex role. It manages things out of the ordinary such as phrasing, or the speed of a string player’s bow.

When the conductor makes soft, elegant movements, the orchestra will play soft, elegant sounds. When the conductor makes direct, edgy, pivotal movements, the orchestra will play that way.

Percussion needs clarity from a conductor. They need to know where to hit something. The bass player may play as little as one note in an entire symphony, but that note is very important. Some horns bring delicate sounds forward, to compliment the overall sound. The conductor has to be very aware of each individual’s role, and then conduct the music to bring out the highest and best of them.

Some conductors are dancing extroverts, and their music demonstrates the joy. These conductors are contagious, making the audience want to dance too, experiencing the fun that is so at the forefront of the moment.