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Effective Ensemble Performance. Technique. Technique can be defined as the ability to play the notes cleanly and accurately. Technique. The notes must be “under your fingers” before proper attention can be given to the other aspects of musical performance. Technique.

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  • Technique can be defined as the ability to play the notes cleanly and accurately.

The notes must be “under your fingers” before proper attention can be given to the other aspects of musical performance.


You can improve your technique by:

  • Practicing fast moving passages slowly and accurately.
  • Practicing scales, arpeggios, thirds, and other

technical exercises.

  • Breaking down difficult passages into smaller practice components (i.e. one beat or measure at a time).
  • This refers to the ability to play your instrument “in tune”.
  • All other aspects of performance

(tone, expression, balance, technique) are obscured when that performance is out of tune.

i ntonation

Playing in tune requires

  • Good posture.
  • A firm embouchure.
  • Good breath support.
  • The best instrument/mouthpiece that you can afford.
  • Wind instruments cannot be built perfectly in tune without some type of favoring or humoring of certain notes by the players.
  • Use a tuner to find out which notes are out of tune on your instrument.
  • Know the various techniques of how to accomplish this favoring of notes.
  • “The most important factor in achieving good intonation is Careful Listening.”
  • You need to recognize that the notes are out of tune before you can adjust /favor them.
  • Listen to your neighbors as you play and try to eliminate the “beats” in the sound.
  • A type of musical interpretation where you express yourself through the music.
  • A phrase is also known as a “sentence of music”. Phrases are usually 4 or 8 measures long.
  • Find the peak note of the phrase as well as the proper place(s) to breathe within the phrase.
  • “Phrasing is an art, not a science.”
  • There is no foolproof method for phrasing.
  • Experiment with different phrasing ideas and use the one that works the best.

“I thought you would drive to Chicago.”

tone quality
Tone Quality
  • The characteristic sound that is produced on your instrument.
  • Tone be described with adjectives such as

rich, full, bright, warm, dark, thin, reedy, robust.

  • This aspect of playing is best learned by imitation of fine players. Try to build a mental concept of the tone that you are trying to produce.
tone quality1
Tone Quality

You can also improve this aspect of playing by:

  • Practicing long, sustained tones.
  • Using proper breath support and a firm embouchure.
  • Using the best equipment (instrument, mouthpiece, reeds) that you can afford.
  • This refers to the way that you play the notes.
  • There are an infinite number of musical styles, but the most essential ones are:

1. Legato- smooth and connected

2. Marcato- heavy and detached

3. Staccato - light and detached

  • Dynamics are the various levels of loudness and softness in musical performance.
  • Dynamic contrast is needed to avoid dull and uninteresting performances.
  • Strive to include all six dynamic levels in your playing.
  • All dynamic levels need to be played


  • Forte and fortissimo should not sound rough and distorted.
  • Piano and Pianissimo should not sound weak and feeble.
  • This is referred to as the proper mixture of melody, harmony, and accompaniment parts.
  • The melodic line must always be predominant and the other parts subordinate.
  • Another form of balance is ensemble balance where the band/orchestra sound is built from the bottom up, making the lower instruments the loudest and the higher instruments the softest. (“The McBeth Triangle”)
  • This refers to making your instrument “speak distinctly”.
  • Articulation bears the same relationship to music as enunciation does to speech.
  • Good articulation requires proper use of the tongue and the breath. If either is missing, the result will be unclear articulation.
  • A variety of tongue actions are acceptable for articulating notes such as doe, doo, dah, day, dee, toe, too, tah, tay, tee. In certain cases, the loo syllable can also be used.
  • Never use the “th” sound in your articulations.