Chapter 12 – Ensemble Skills

a group singing around a piano So much of what musicians do is collaborative that it would be a shame to restrict our learning to individual music-making and listening. In this chapter, we look at how we can apply the skills we’ve been learning to ensemble situations.

It’s honestly a little odd how little traditional aural skills teaching centers around ensemble work, given the importance of ensembles to so much music making. But thanks to this situation, there aren’t a lot of established ways to teach these skills. We’ll use what knowledge we have, and our creativity, to give you advice and instruction. But to a certain extent, this chapter will have to rely on simply asking you to apply these skills in ensembles.

Much of what we will be doing here has to do with communication, particularly nonverbal communication. If you have trouble picking up on other people’s subtle communicative cues, this may be a challenge for you. But we’ll do our best to point out elements you might look for in particular.


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Set up and communicate a key, meter, and tempo for an ensemble.
  2. Follow a meter and tempo established by another member of an ensemble.
  3. Tune to an ensemble.
  4. Teach music to an ensemble in a “musical” way.
  5. Detect pitch and rhythm errors within an ensemble and offer advice for correction.
  6. Communicate and perceive ad-hoc decisions about expressive timing, dynamics, and other elements of musicality within an ensemble.
  7. Improvise music within a group.

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Foundations of Aural Skills Copyright © 2022 by Timothy Chenette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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