I cannot over-emphasise however, the importance of the MD’s ability to cast the right players/singers for the job at hand. Someone who is really funky, but who it takes a long time to learn form and decipher a chart could be disastrous in a situation like TV. That same person , however might be perfect for an extended live tour where there were significantly more rehearsals and the material already existed on a recording that they could study and memorize.
A great singer does not a great background vocalist make. Learning the material, steps and movement, understanding how to “blend” with the other voices, keeping oneself healthy and looking good on stage …all are a part of what a Music Director has to consider. Sometimes, the artist or the Producer has his or her own ideas about who should or shouldn’t have the job.
All in all …my feeling is that the Music Director helps to direct traffic. The organization and musical “point of view” of a show or a project has to be understood and implemented with accuracy, consistency, skill and spirit. It is my feeling that this kind of energy, drive and feeling starts with a confident and capable music director. Balancing and challenging the sometimes perceived “task master” mode with an ability to empower all involved to focus and give their very best in any given musical situation. Although it is unrealistic to think that everyone involved in a production – notices when all the music is played well and everything is flowing “just right”, I like to think that it makes a difference when you can feel that the MD really cared about the project (and not all MD’s do. It’s for some, another job, another check , another show.) But…. the music done well, always makes a show that much better… ‘cause the choices are right. It feels great and sounds great.
— Patrice Rushen