Sometimes learning classical music can seem like a chore. Hours spent in a practice room, honing skills on one's own, can be isolating at times. However, the good news is there is more to a musical education than lessons and practice alone. Developing ensemble playing skills is essential for any aspiring musician - and the good news is that it is fun to do!
If you need some inspiration for joining an ensemble, here is my list:
1. Your rhythm will improve
When playing with others, the first principle is that you must play together (stating the obvious, I know), and therefore, you must play in time! Your ability to count reliably, and to keep a steady pulse, will be strengthened in the process.
2. You will get plenty of opportunity to practice your sight-reading
Okay, I am not advocating that you do not practice your parts when you are part of a group, but what I am saying is that there will be times when new music is placed on the stand in front of you, and you will have the opportunity to try out your music reading in real-time - no second chances or stopping allowed!
3. Your focus is on the team
As musicians, we necessarily must concentrate a great deal on our own individual technique. Playing in a group causes us to look outwards and develop more of a team spirit in our music making.
4. You will be inspired!
As a teacher, this is my favourite reason of all. Learning new repertoire, playing together in a group, and enjoying new performance opportunities are all strong motivators for young musicians who are looking for reasons to keep learning and improving on their instruments.
One more point: if you're a pianist, this applies to you also! Joining a choir is one possible way to gain ensemble experience, and is one of the best things you can do to improve your general musicianship.
Finally, here's a list of orchestral and choral opportunities in and around Melbourne – some for younger students and others for the more experienced player:
Melbourne Youth Music
State Music Camp
Young Voices of Melbourne
AYO National Music Camp
Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra
Preston Symphony Orchestra
Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra
South Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
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