THE VALUE OF ENSEMBLE WORK

Once students have some basic skills, it’s very important for a student to play with other musicians. This acts like an embedding process where the skills learned in a private lesson are solidified and refined. A student’s artistry deepens and matures as a result.

Ensemble rehearsals create an environment where the student has to rise to the challenge. The most obvious example of this is rhythm skills. In order to play together each student must play their rhythm with precision and clarity in order to match what their team mates are playing. If someone is playing a sloppy rhythm everyone knows right away.

 

 

 

Rhythm is only one of many skills that are enhanced by playing with others. Another skill is matching your team mates volume level so as to blend in together. In the same way pianists must learn to match the timbre of their piano, or blend, and match the other pianist’s timbre. This requires that pianists shape their tone and blend the sound of their pianos together. Sometimes the shaping is about bringing out a melody to highlight it against a background of harmony. These shaping skills allow five pianists to play musical phrases that are so together that the group sounds like a single whole.

There is a whole range of skills that are necessary to play the piano. Playing with other pianists makes these skills stand out more. The skills become so much more obvious that it’s easier to talk about them and to make corrections.

Another skill is learning to shape phrases together. Yet another is learning to cue other musicians. Rhythmic understanding and precision is sharpened. Ensemble members also learn how to cue each other as there is no conductor. They also gain practical experience working with other musicians. The specially arranged scores provide students with different parts, creating a single, orchestrated, ensemble sound.

This attention to detail is what creates a cohesive ensemble. Playing experience like this is extremely valuable for building solid musicianship.

“It has been so much fun to have the opportunity to play piano with other pianists” –Natalie L.

The value of playing in a larger ensemble rather than the more common duet is in having a more complex sound to work with. It’s more challenging to blend when there are more parts to listen to. The greater challenge makes the learning go faster and reach much deeper.

Call David Cutter for more information.
(626) 260-1615