How Upwind! Can Help Build a Balanced Ensemble Program

How Upwind! Can Help Build a Balanced Ensemble Program

Building a balanced ensemble program: is your music program missing some vital instruments such as the oboe, horn or bassoon? Why is it important to build your numbers in these instruments?

Talk to any horn student who is on their own in an ensemble and they will tell you it’s hard work without company. They may have a love and enthusiasm for their instrument which keeps them hanging in there and turning up to rehearsals but without company they are missing out on half the experience. Feeling part of a team can help students develop much faster and can build their confidence particularly when playing in an ensemble. One of the hard parts about playing the horn is pitching the right notes. When there is only one horn player in an ensemble with 65 other instrumentalists this can become even more confusing. The best way to give horn students a leg up is by building their numbers and providing them with some company. Once you have the numbers, your ensemble program can truly benefit since adding the sound of horn to any ensemble can give it the depth and resonance it may be missing.

How many young students choosing an instrument even know what an oboe is let alone how it sounds? It’s one thing to see the oboe in a picture and or to know that it’s different to clarinet because of the reed. But what does this really mean? Hmm, the first thing they may learn on trying the instrument is that it’s hard to get a sound. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, via live performance, students had already gained an understanding of what can be achieved on the oboe and to hear the full range of sounds from the lyrical cantabile, to that melancholic and mournful beauty through to the brilliant and sparkly sound. By opening their eyes to the possibility of this instrument students will be much more likely to consider it as an option for them. There is a reason great composers gravitate towards the oboe for solos in their music! Adding the oboe to any ensemble can provide a whole new range of colours that may be missing.

We all know the bassoon is interesting to look at, but did you know there is a shortage of bassoon players Australia wide and has been for several years? For primary age students there are now smaller (and cheaper!) instruments available allowing students to start at a much younger age. So now there are less barriers, why would students want to choose the bassoon as their instrument and what can it provide in an ensemble setting? The most obvious is filling out those bass lines and helping to provide a foundation for the ensemble. But the bassoon is much more versatile than that. It can add a level of interest both aurally and visually to any ensemble. It can provide a depth to the sound while still sparkling and can also become quite a melodic instrument. It can tango with other sections drawing on the quirky nature of the bassoon or it can provide stability for an ensemble by filling out the sound. As to the ‘why’ for students, on hearing the bassoon in a live setting students will be able discover this for themselves.

Enquire today to find out how our Upwind! school program can help build your music program!