With some preparation, clear and concise communication, and some basic strategies of what to do, conducting an effective rehearsal need not be daunting. Don’t worry if you are not always certain what the best thing to do next is, or if you can’t quite tell whether the violins are rushing or the celli are dragging. You are not expected to be right 100% of the time, and if you have a clear process and the ability to admit your mistakes, the musicians will forgive a surprising amount. Generally, they understand the complexity of what you are doing.
Stay flexible: you should have a plan, but change it if you need to. Musicians don’t like unstructured rehearsals, but neither do they like the sense that the conductor is working through a list of pre-planned rehearsal points without regard to what is actually happening in the room.
Don’t forget to do a debrief with yourself after the rehearsal. While it is fresh in your mind, make some notes about what went well, what still needs work, what the priorities are for the next rehearsal. This is especially important if you are rehearsing only once a week.