Bill Swick

By Bill Swick

1) Teamwork

The profile of a typical guitar student is a person who does not spend a lot of time playing sports, does not participate in scouts, does not belong to a youth group at church, etc. The guitar ensemble may be the first time a guitar student has been a part of a team, or something that is bigger than oneself.

2) Musicality

Playing ensemble music provides an opportunity to teach vertical alignment, articulation and playing in time. These important skills tend to get missed when playing solo guitar.

3) Public Performance

Img: Roger Reuver
The chances of your young guitar students putting on a solo public performance are probably several years off (not counting family parties). Ensemble work gives them a chance to play a show.

4) Break Out of the Box

Playing in ensemble performances and events leads to opportunities. Ensembles tend to travel and/or participate in a district events.

5) Independent Counting

Ensemble players must learn to count on their own because there are other voices playing different rhythms and notes.

6) Expression

Ensemble work is also a great opportunity to teach dynamics, timbre and balance. Again, areas in music which often are overlooked when solo playing.

7) Engagement for the Whole Class

Ensembles are a vehicle for involving all students in the classroom irrespective of ability. Some students will play more challenging parts, while others will play easier roles: ensembles can’t exist without that contrast.

8) Promote Competition

Ensembles can be a vehicle for competition for chair placement, district honor ensembles, solo & ensemble, etc. Competition means that there is a reason to be good, i.e., practice!!!!

9) Follow a Conductor

Students will learn to follow a conductor as s/he ties the entire group together. This will be an extremely important skill as your student matures as a musician.

10) Application

Ensemble music can be the application of the technique that is being taught in the classroom.