To follow up on Philip’s post yesterday about common sense, I found myself kind of disappointed with the use of the term "common sense" in Liz’s post. She’s postulating a kind of left-brain/right-brain dichotomy and discussing how important left-brain considerations like rehearsal planning and musical analysis are, but that’s not quite the same thing as "common sense".
Of course "common sense" is kind of a Humpty Dumpty word ("When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean —neither more nor less"). Many people use it to mean "conforms with my own prejudices", but anyway it certainly suggests something instinctual, rather than something you could learn in school. But you can learn rehearsal planning in class, not that all conducting programs bother to teach it. There’s a certain interpersonal component to managing a group of volunteers too, but I’m not sure that’s common sense either; it’s a learned behavior, even if it’s learned in real life rather than in a classroom.
I’d say common sense means a scale of priorities which keeps you from focusing on insignificant details, and an ability to find direct, rather than convoluted, solutions to problems. While that’s of course useful in conducting, that’s true of any kind of job (or any aspect of life), so it doesn’t seem to make much sense to postulate a statement like "Conducting is largely a matter of common sense". There’s a lot worth discussing in her post; I guess I’m just disappointed that she asked the wrong question.
P.S. Try Googling "define:common sense" and find the most fascinating results.