5 Reasons Why You Should Play in an Ensemble
© Goh Tong Keat
Musicians, regardless of what instruments they play, will, at some point in their lives, encounter a situation where they need to collaborate with others. Whether it is in a chamber setting (two or more people playing different parts coming together) or in a larger group like an orchestra or a choir, making music together has always been an essential part of the music tradition. Some people may have more outgoing personalities, while some are more restrained in social settings. Nonetheless, making music together with other people can be a very beneficial and enjoyable activity for everyone. Let us look at the five reasons why playing in ensembles can benefits you in different ways.
Learn about Teamwork
In an ensemble, different players/sections have different roles to play. One part may be the melody, and the other part may be the accompaniment. All parts must work together to decide and agree on who is leading, or who has a more significant role to play. The leaders will need to show leadership while the followers will have to play a more supportive role. Knowing the roles you play is imperative to achieve the right balance in any ensemble performance. In many cases, musicians have to compromise each other to get the best results. For most students, this is something outside of what they learned in private lessons and practice.
Improve Listening Skill
When you are playing in an ensemble, the only way that you can know if you are playing your part right is to listen out diligently. If you play the violin in an orchestra, you need to listen to the other players in the same section to make sure that you play precisely with them. At the same time, you will also need to listen to the different instrument sections that are related to the part that you are playing. Musicians that are playing in a group need to constantly listen and adapt their playing in terms of intonation, articulations, dynamics, and various musical nuances.
An ensemble setting is the best place for musicians to learn from each other. Even professional musicians can learn from their colleagues. Students can benefit from playing together with musicians who are more skillful and experienced. Some youth orchestra place their members playing side by side with professional orchestra players as part of their training. Everyone wants to look good in front of their peers; being in an environment like this can help to motivate the students to practice harder.
Having a Sense of Achievement
For the inexperienced students, performing in an orchestra will feel less intimidating compared to playing in a solo recital. In the case of a well-rehearsed performance, even elementary students can be a part of an impressive concert, and this will give them a sense of achievement as well as confidence in playing their instruments. Being a part of a successful performance is especially helpful in building their confidence. A lot of students reacted more positively towards learning a musical instrument after participating in an ensemble.
Make Friends and Build Network
Ensemble is a social setting where we get to meet like-minded people. We may meet people who become lifelong friends or people who can benefit us in the future. At a time when you are looking for an insurance policy, you may think of the cellist in the same community orchestra with you who works as an insurance agent. If your neighbor’s son is looking for an oboe teacher, you will be able to recommend the oboist from the orchestra to him. Building a network is not only about you getting to know other people, but it is also for other people to get to know you!